The past several weeks have indubitably been a struggle of cultural adjustment and language acquisition, but more than anything they have been an internal debate of whether or not to start writing a study abroad blog.
I often have trouble writing about my personal experiences - talking about myself makes me uncomfortable. However, I’ve basically been on edge since the moment I stepped on French soil, so why not push it even more?
Here’s the rundown:
I got into France on January 3rd via a plane that arrived in Paris at 8:00 in the morning local time. A friend and I killed time during our ten hour layover by watching Netflix, sleeping, and staring blankly into the distance given that our bodies thought it was somewhere in the middle of the night in the US. I had my first conversation in French thanks to a burning need for caffeine, and even though I mispronounced the fake French name I gave to the barista (the first of many times since I’ve arrived), I managed to emerge unscathed.
Jetlagged, sick, and petrified by the idea of having any kind of serious conversation in French, I made my way with my cohort of American students through the first week of orientation, sightseeing, and exploration of Montpellier. At the end of week 1, I moved in with my host family (who are incredibly nice people that I am thankful for on a daily basis) and started classes the week after.
If I can be candid, it’s been a lot. This is mostly due to the fact that I feel so incredibly saturated with French words and grammar and idioms that sometimes I can’t conjure up any of the words that I need. There are good French days and bad French days – sometimes I feel as if the language has really “clicked” and I don’t have to consciously think about everything that I’m saying (this also often occurs after one or two glasses of wine). However, the bad days are unreasonably frustrating – I’ve long taken for granted the ability to express myself and communicate effectively in English, and trying to do so in French sometimes just isn’t going to happen. Not to narcissistically embed my own tweets (but absolutely to narcissistically embed my own tweets), but here are some of the funnier language faux-pas I’ve had thus far:
Despite my language-based frustrations, my overall experience in this first month has been great. Certainly not perfect, but definitely great. Basic interactions have become at least 50% less anxiety inducing, and I feel relatively comfortable getting around Montpellier using its colorful public transit system.
My classes are starting to become routine, although the vastly different (and by that I mean less intensive) homework load has been somewhat bizarre. Luckily though, I feel like I have a good support system here between friends, program staff, and my host family. Things have only been getting easier, especially after a couple solid stress cries early on in the month.
I’ll conclude with some of my favorite (and therefore ungodly overplayed) songs from the month. À la prochaine fois !