Au revoir aux Etats-Unis et bienvenue en France!
Good-bye America and welcome to France! As I prepare to leave my home country to live abroad for several months, I cannot help but feel two very different emotions. While half of me is very excited for this new adventure I am about embark on, half of me feels very nervous for the unknown. While French culture has been ingrained in my studies since middle school, I still can’t help myself but wonder what is to come.
Will the people be friendly? Do I really know French as well as I think I do? Will my academic techniques differ largely from those of the Europeans? What is the experience of a black woman in France and does it differ much from the experience of a black woman in America? So many questions and concerns race through my head, almost making me feel so nervous that I don’t want to go anymore. But then I stop.
I put my hand on my chest and take several deep breaths. I learned that one way to reduce your anxiety when your mind starts racing like that is to take several deep breaths. Afterwards I am able to think clearly. Yes, I will probably experience culture shock, but studying in France for a couple of months is not impossible. If it were impossible, why would other students do it? Yes, some things will be very different from what I am currently used to, but different is not always a bad thing.
Different can be fun, it can be exciting — it can push you to grow and change and become a more well-rounded individual. As I prepare to pick myself up and move across the globe for four months, there are several things I want to keep in mind. As silly and simple as it may sound, the very first thing I want to remind myself to do is breathe. You’d be surprised how much deep breathing does to calm your nerves and jitters. If I calm my body’s physical reactions, that’s almost half the battle. Next, I want to remind myself why it is that I came to France — because I want to not only learn more about the French culture and its language, but to also learn more about myself.
From experience I’ve learned that being uncomfortable allows you to grow and learn more about yourself. You never know how strong you are until you persevere through a situation that you thought you could not survive through. Lastly and most importantly, I want to remind myself to have fun. To enjoy every moment of this time, because I will never again be 21 years old, living in Lyon, without any real responsibility besides attending classes.
So, as the time approaches for me to leave for Lyon, I want to keep these little things in mind. Many people only dream of the chance to study abroad in France, but I am actually able to make these dreams my reality — it’s up to me to make the very best of my time.