Bonjour tout le monde!
This week I decided to try to express how I'm feeling about France since I have been here for a month. Although it sounds like an odd topic, I feel it is important to share my experiences and thoughts I have about the past month and months going forward. For those who have studied abroad, or are considering it, I think the hardest part about studying abroad is how you deal with it. I know it sounds weird and harsh to say “deal with it,” but the most challenging and rewarding parts about studying abroad are how you handle the adventure, because it is completely different than anything else.
To understand it as I do, here is my reality check: you are going to study abroad in a different country, most likely with little to no people that you know. That means you are going on a lot of uncharted territory. Of course in the months before hand, you are preparing yourself, financially and physically, but you cannot prepare yourself emotions for how you will respond to this new place. However, taking these challenges and unfamiliar circumstances, I also believe that is the best part of studying abroad. With that being said, the first two times that studying abroad truly felt “real” to me was the instant I stepped on the plane, and the instant I got to Aix.
When I first got on the plane I was pressed with the mixed feelings of “holy cow is this happening” and “okay Melissa, just focus on making it to Aix.” With these two conflicting feelings of excitement and focus on safe travels, due to the fact I was now all alone, I could not truly prepare myself for my arrival. When I arrived in Aix, all of the sudden the emotion of “holy cow this is happening” kicked in. I looked all around me and was faced with familiar constructs (buildings, sidewalks, people, etc.,), yet nothing like it does in the states.
So how did I feel? Unreal is the best word I can describe it. Everywhere I go, is something so different and spectacular, yet I am almost getting used to all these amazing new things that are not in the states. Getting used to these things is a little scary, because I know when I come back I will be in for a huge culture shock. All of the sudden, the idea of traveling to England, Spain, or anywhere else in Europe is second nature. My new friends I have met within a month feel like family. The school I go to seems like my home. The markets, stores, and bakeries I buy my food at seem normal. Even my French, which is not the best, is starting to come more natural. Yet, when I take a step back and look at it, it seems completely surreal and unimaginable that I am doing all these things.
Even though I miss familiar faces, it is not as hard, especially with modern technology, I do not feel like I am away from home. It is easy to keep up with everything happen in my town, state, in country; yet, sometimes I am faced with the reality that I do not have the familiar faces of friends, roommates, and family that I can visit in person. Although I definitely miss my friends, I am immediately focused on how fortunate I am to get to experience a country, especially France of all places! C'est tout!
P.S The following pictures are from last week in Paris.
À la semaine prochaine !
A stretch of The Lourve in Paris, France.
The Opera House in Paris, France
The Lafayette in Paris, France.
My fellow tourists for the weekend :)
Me by the Notre Dame.
We went to this art showcase, and I thought the staircase looked very cool.
My friends and I by the Eiffel Tour.
Another picture by the Eiffel Tour.
The view from Sacré-cœur
Me standing on top of the city.