By Emily Benson-Scott
I’ve just finished a wonderful semester of teaching at LaGuardia Community College in Queens NYC. I had one exceptionally bright and talented student in ENG 101 who managed to turn in homeworks and free-writes while performing Burlesque in Vienna. In my women’s literature class, we read novels featuring powerful Haitian, Afghani and African-American female protagonists. There were incredible discussions, and I was fortunate to have a very bright, diverse, and engaged group of students. There’s nothing quite like the trill of interacting with live students. Ok, maybe there is. In three days I fly to France. I will be there until my next onsite semester begins in September. It’s never quite the same teaching online, but in exchange for the thrill of live discussion, there’s the joy of levity and of travel. For the next three months, my husband and I will be telecommuting from three different places in France–the French Alps, Provence, and the Riviera. As a hub, we will be renting the same house we rented last summer, (pictured below) in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, between Monaco and Italy, overlooking the glorious Mediterranean.
This will be our third summer in France, and every year, I find ways to make my existence more portable. This year I’ve banned books–not with the agenda of a repressive totalitarian regime–but because they just weigh too much. Instead, I have been feverishly downloading books onto my Kindle. Because the E-ink doesn’t require a backlight, it’s easy to read in sunlight ie: I can read on the beach! (first-world problem). There are other items– my nearly weightless space age-y Microsoft Surface computer for online teaching, travel articles, and my own creative writing. Lastly, I have packed the miraculously small portable hotspot we bought last year from Orange in France. It’s roughly the size of an egg, and with this device and gigabytes purchased at a tabac for about 20 euros a week, depending on usage, we can get WiFi anywhere in France. We can telecommute on the train to the Alps, on the beach, or theoretically in the middle of a lavender field, although I have yet to test that option. All of these portable electronic devices glimmer smartly from inside my black carry-on, each an accomplice to my love affair with levity. I am leaving the brick and mortar world in three days. I am feeling unburdened, untethered and ready to become a digital nomad again.