Blog for the Road

I’m writing this post from the airport waiting for my flight from Tunis to Paris (followed in two days with a flight from Paris to Los Angeles). The soundtrack for the wait is “Surfer Rosa” by The Pixies.

I have, predictably, fallen behind in the blog department. Honestly, this absence says about as much about the last month and a half as any blog post The month, in a word, can be summarized as “busy” or “stressful.” I tried to balance learning how to teach English with finishing my thesis, learning how to get by in Tunisian Arabic, and coping with a nasty cold. In a third word: “overwhelming.”

While I may have had an amazing English-language course in Prague, that course was back in February, 2012 when, to provide context, Herman Cain was leading the polls for the Republican presidential nomination. Having noticeably not taught any English between the end of that course and my arrival to Tunis, I was understandably a bit rusty. While I have had an amazing and helpful mentor throughout the last few months of student teaching, the learning curve has been steep. There have been countless times when, while reviewing what went well and didn’t during the lesson that she’d ask: “X was in your lesson plan, why didn’t you do X in your lesson?” (X of course being the thing that would have made the lesson not fall apart) to which, I could basically only answer “because sometimes my brain is dumb . . .” However, my brain seems to have either improved or I’ve remembered to take a second to glance over my plan before barreling forward. I’m not saying I feel like a master teacher, I just don’t feel as many moments of pure panic before going to go teach.

My thesis has been like the Sarlaac pit of the mind, just when you think it’s finished digesting you, you realize you have another thousand years of being digested to go. I had left the country feeling semi-confident about where it was going only to realize that it didn’t really have a thesis, which, as the name implies, a Master’s Thesis is supposed to have. My parents have been invaluable resources at being editor’s-in-chiefs and angst/idea sounding boards. The fact that I somehow magically graduated Friday (in absentia) wouldn’t have been possible without them.

Along with them, this whole month+ of madness has been made bearable by my three amazing roommates: Victoria (the German), Matilde (the Frenchwoman), and Frederique (the Dutchwoman). We got in the habit of either cooking together (including my Thanksgiving dinner spectacular) or going out to our local Mata3m Bab Djedid (aka New Gate Restaurant, names after our neighborhood/the “new” gate to the old city) for 4 dinar couscous (about $2.20). Many stressed out evenings were alleviated by a bar of chocolate and bottle of Gran Patron (the best of the mid-range Tunisian wines, at 15 dinars a bottle, you could almost get four bowls of couscous, but that’s the price one pays to drink in North Africa). They have unfortunately either moved closer to work (Frederique) or will move home next week (Victoria and Matilde) and will be sorely missed.

It hasn’t really sunk into me that I’m heading home or that I’m going to come back to an empty apartment floor and a full teaching load. My hope is that, after a few weeks of rejuvenation, I can come back ready to actually spend more time out and about in the city and actually start improving my
Arabic . . .