I wanted to give a quick summary of my personal journey over those 7 months that I spent in France and finish with a list of things that I have learned while there …
When I arrived I was nervous excited. This caused me to be adventurously timid…whatever, it makes sense to me 🙂 This led to some interesting happenings within the first few months including but not limited to:
- Watching a lot of American TV to avoid leaving my apartment. Okay, perhaps it wasn’t only to avoid going out but let me tell you, it was quite a comfort watching these shows. I basically went from keeping up with a few shows regularly (Grey’s Anatomy, Dexter … ) to watching more than I can count on my two hands. I am not proud of this fact. But there it is.
- Being sad to miss Thanksgiving and Christmas at home. It took me being in France to realize that this was the first year that I had EVER missed these two holidays at my family’s house. Even being away at school, I would always go home for these holidays and so it hit me much harder than I expected when I Skype my family, all sitting around the dinner table. For this reason I will be going home for Christmas this year! yay!
- Trying my best to take advantage of every opportunity presented to me, socially and otherwise. This was difficult when my apartment was far from the place that was “hip” to frequent. People still say hip, right? 😉 This meant that if I were to go out I had to either take a bike before midnight (since that is when they went offline), a bus before 12:45a (the last night bus) or … walk/run. I did this a number of times only to find out later that this probably wasn’t the safest choice. I went on to take taxis after that … subsequently my life changed in April when the public rent-able bikes became available 24/7.
- I missed hugs. I missed how GREEN my homes are … KY and PA are gorgeous right now! I missed sweet tea and Mexican Food. I obviously missed my friends and family and how easy things are here in the USA. I missed my car, not necessarily driving and everything that goes with it but the simplicity of grocery shopping when you know you can just throw it in the back of a car and make multiple trips :).
Things I didn’t miss … you’ll get a lot of this in the upcoming posts so I will spare you for now.
Things I wrote down on the plane on the way back —- Stuff I learned :
- I am completely capable of drinking an entire bottle of wine on my own if necessary, with little effect.
- Grams / celcius and whatnot makes way more sense. This does not, however, mean that my brain is able to, after 26 years, figure these conversions out on the spot.
- After a few years I bet I would know French better than English. When people ask me how to say “—-” (a french word) in english … I don’t know. Which makes me feel hella stupid.
- I don’t know english Grammar nor phonetics. It’s sad.
- Language is difficult. NEVER take the ability to communicate for granted (easier said than done).
- Returning to the USA completely and for good is probs not an option (though my family would be sad to read this, it must be said). Life is more interesting day to day and I have learned so much about myself and what I want from life. Although little things are difficult it keeps me on my toes, keeps me interested in now as well as the future.
- Patience does not come easily.
- The sharing of culture is one of the most interesting and fulfilling endeavors I have come upon in my life. If I went back and redid my education I would probably be taking part in some sort of international relations. Perhaps I can still do this, work in the French Embassy some day, US-French scientific relations…we shall see.
- In order to study abroad, or live abroad every kind of support is necessary. One major one is emotional support. But also monitary, physical, mental…all of those. Set up this rock solid network before venturing out. I don’t care how adventurous, independent you are. If you don’t have this support system, you’ll be worse off.
- Don’t forget nor regret your roots. Being French seems so cool…but being American is too. Don’t be ashamed of where you come from. Everyone has something interesting to offer … I am still working on this point 🙂
Overall my time so far in France has changed me. for the better. I am now a stronger, more confident person and I love it. I still stick to the comment that I have had no better compliment than someone saying my French is great. I never thought I could feel so proud of a successful phone conversation as I do every time there is obvious comprehension on both sides of my French telephone.
As of today I have 38 days until I am once again on my way to France !! Can’t wait to see what this next round of Frenchness will bring !