The countdown to my departure is officially two weeks and one day. I'm super pumped because I'm making a pit stop in France to visit my former host family in Angers (and I guess Kate Chambers is gonna be there too, which is kinda cool I guess ;P) so I'll get to enjoy some quality time with the other mother (and my sweet beautiful sausage dog Topaze!!!!) before I jet off to Réunion. I'm hoping I'll get a chance to practice some French, since I know I'll be dealing with a lot of bureaucratic mumbo jumbo after I arrive. Though I guess I can't complain, everyone I've dealt with so far has been incredibly kind to me, even the very nice lady at the French Dept. of Education who helped me with my visa question even after I called her 'monsieur' (I'm sorry Armande!)
I've already gotten in touch with my mentor, the guy who's gonna house me for a week and help me find an apartment so that I can settle into life on Réunion as quickly as possible. Talking with him has made everything seem much more real than ever. I absolutely cannot wait. I am so incredibly excited to integrate into Réunion's culture! This teeny tiny island is absolutely busting at the seams with diversity. The island has tons of French influence, but its proximity to Africa also brings in a bit of African influence, and there is Chinese influence as well, as the Chinese settled the island prior to its fall into the hands of the French. Réunion Creole is different from any other creole on earth. The island also boasts numerous religions; it's got Christianity, Buddhism, Hindu, Islam, and even some African tribal religions. Oh yeah, and the island's got less than a million people. SO COOL.
On top of that, while there are 11 other assistants coming from the US to Réunion with me, there are also assistants coming from Germany and Spain and a ton of other countries as well, so I'll truly be surrounded by a mixture of people and cultures, even in day-to-day life. On the downside, I'll also be surrounded by a lot of horrifyingly large insects, but we don't need to talk about that.