Sarah Rainford, who is working as an English language assistant in Guadeloupe, explains why the experience is much more than just a beach holiday.
I am currently living and working as an English language assistant in paradise (also known as Guadeloupe). As a part of Europe, Guadeloupe is a mixture of mainland France and West Indian culture. The ‘melange’ of patisseries, rum shacks and French and Creole languages makes this Caribbean island unlike anywhere else in the world, providing both a cultural experience and a new outlook on life.
Letting go of your worries and settling into a new community
As a child, ‘Hakuna Matata’ (from Disney's The Lion King) seemed like a motto only kids could aspire to. Perhaps this is because we were learning from a singing warthog, but also because having ‘no worries’ at all seemed like a foreign concept. ‘Pani pwoblem’ (pas de problème) is Guadeloupe’s take on the phrase. The island breathes a positive, laid-back open spirit, meaning I have never felt more relaxed and at ease in a new community. Living in paradise means people don’t need a lot to be happy. They have the time to be friendly. The locals have welcomed me into their homes like family and grasp any opportunity to show me their favourite island destinations.
Overcoming language difficulties
The challenge of moving to a new country is certainly increased by a language barrier, especially if your ability is the same as what mine was when I arrived. At first, the mix of Creole and French seemed daunting, but the result is that people are more accepting and open towards different accents. I've learned that you've got to throw yourself into the deep end and accept that you will make endless mistakes. Only then will you begin to make a lot of progress.