The year of the rabbit officially ended today in China. The year of the rabbit was my year, my chance to break my cycle of life and start anew. I just want to reflect a moment about the past year, and even the past three years and how much has changed between then and now.
Three years ago, I was a fresh-from-college graduate, leaving a four-year university with a humanities degree, which as most people will tell you, is probably both the most useless and useful degree one can earn. On the bright side, having a degree in a humanities subject allows you freedom to do almost any job you want, but on the downside, it also means that few people take you seriously, and they don’t understand that people with French degrees can do things other than teach. I don’t know how many times I’ve said the words, “No, I don’t want to be a teacher.”
With my useless degree, I moved to China. I had no idea what I was doing or why or if I wasn’t going to catch some crazy disease and die over there. But the economy was quickly going down the drain and with no other options, I didn’t see how much worse it could be. You shouldn’t say that until you go to China.
Now, China wasn’t all bad, and in fact, I have some very good memories for the eleven months I spent living in a little town basically in the middle of nowhere, scraping by with my minimal knowledge of Mandarin (most of which I learned while there), and plenty of hand gestures. I spent the year climbing the Great Wall, taking inventory of Terracotta Warriors, and pearl shopping in Shanghai. I spent two weeks puttering around Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong simply because I could. There was also the little matter of my job teaching a few hundred Chinese university students about Tourism in English, but for the most part, I watched a lot of TV that year and ate far too much amazing food.
I like to think about the good times in China, not the spiders in my apartment or my resident rat, whom I named Ralph. I’ll also ignore the cement walls that kept in no warmth all winter and the mold that regrew over the winter in the room I never opened. Eh, it’s all in the past now anyway.
After China, I decided to go the complete opposite way and moved to France. France was something I’d wanted for a while. I mean, I was a French major after all. French is what I do.
I moved to a small town in le nord, aka the north, about forty minutes outside of Lille, an hour from Paris, two hours from London. It was perfect. When you think of a quaint French village, you’re probably thinking of my town. They had a farmer’s market three times a week all year round, for heaven’s sake. I met awesome people, both English-speaking and French, and by the end of it, I was sad to leave.
While in France, I got to travel to many different places, and even now I still haven’t been everywhere I want to go. I saw Harry Potter in London, stalked JK Rowling in Scotland, visited the Collosseum in Rome, hung out with Kafka in Prague, drank beer in Munich, sang with Julie Andrews in Austria, and visited several other countries I never imagined I’d get to. I’ve been very lucky the past few years even if I don’t always show the proper gratitude.
Of course, now it’s back to real life, but I’m not going to waste the next twelve year cycle until the year of the rabbit comes around again. 2012 is the year things are going to happen, and I hope you’re all here to witness it!