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Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Chronicles of Sarnia - Pt I

It's December and despite my best intentions I haven't sat down to write about my experiences living in Sarnia. I'm going to take some time now to talk about what it's been like relocating again.

For one, this move marks the fifth time I've moved in the past two years. The nature of my work is such that steady employment is hard to find. Moreover, the school boards I've worked in have all been territorially extensive, necessitating a move every time I have a new post. Since March of last year I've been fortunate to have contracts in the French language public board, le Conseil scolaire Viamonde.

As difficult as I found the transition to teaching in French (both professionally and personally), I've been really proud of my achievements and I have only strengthened my resolve. I'm lucky to have employment as a teacher in Ontario, but I also know this was the result of a lot of hard work and some rather challenging decisions.

That brings me to moving to Sarnia. The decision that I had to make this spring was challenging, and in the spirit of the past few years it was nothing new. I had two offers in June: a semester-long position in Sarnia or a year-long position in Trois-Rivières. I contemplated and negotiated, hoping that I would end up with a clear plan and a good deal. When the end of August approached I was off to Sarnia.

I remember the day I had to move to Sarnia. I felt defeated. I had blogged only months before that I was coming to and end to transplanting. How little I knew. I had a lot of anxiety coming to Sarnia. I was afraid of the life transition and I also had my doubts about my abilities to be the great teacher I wanted to be if it meant teaching in French. Thankfully, in the time since I've only gone on to feel like an active member of the francophone community.

On Labour Day I set off to Sarnia. It took some time to settle into my new environment. It was very difficult at first. A new apartment, a new school, new students, new colleagues, new courses, new friends. I buried myself in my work and in building a robust social life around me, including taking up some new activities. I joined the bridge association, formed a games night group, and signed up for dodgeball. I kept my days and nights full so that I wouldn't have time to think about how miserable I was having to move to Sarnia.

Interestingly enough, despite my great unhappiness moving to Sarnia, I suddenly began to enjoy my new home. I've never, to clarify, moved somewhere that I didn't want to live. That is until Sarnia. I was deadset against it, for some obvious and not-so-obvious reasons. While it was difficult, I found that overcoming my mindset - my prejudice - was ultimately the true struggle.

I've never had a more enjoyable work environment in life. I have the best students I could ask for (and that's saying a lot given how amazing my students were in Shawinigan). I have great support from my coworkers. I love the courses that I'm teaching. I'm excited to be involved in the social activities I have here. I've loved going to United States. I enjoy biking in the region. I've gone to the beach every week.

That said, it hasn't all been rainbows. I moved to Sarnia during a period of great turmoil and personal change. Suffice to say, I wasn't feeling brave, but I had to forge on.

And I did. In the months since I've rebuilt. I'm feeling stronger, safer, and happier than I have in a very long time. It feels good to fluorish.

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