So it’s been a little over two weeks since I have officially arrived in Lyon and I can finally say that the culture shock is beginning to fade. My ears are beginning to pick up French a bit better than before and I’m gaining much more confidence to speak in the French I know when ordering food.
I’ve heard over and over from others that it is important to fall in love with the process more than it is to fall in love with the results. Like most young adults, sayings like this go in one ear and out the other. But of course, like most young adults, through experience and growth you come to realize how much truth lays in statements like those.
While the first couple days were hard for me, it certainly got a lot better with time. At first I was beating myself up about nearly everything. My French was nowhere on the level I thought it was, I did not spend nearly enough time rehearsing phrases I might use on the regular, I did not understand how my new school worked, and on top of all of that I misunderstood the details of my orientation program and had to live in a hostel for a whole week before moving in with my homestay family.
I was beginning to lose hope. But for some reason, I remembered the saying that you have to fall in love with the process. Learning a new language, living in a foreign country, attending a foreign university — these are all difficult tasks. It will take time, failure, victories, etc. to really achieve one’s goals. And just like that, I felt all my worries melt away.
It’s when I stepped outside my own skin to look at everything that everything began to click. Yes, it’s so amazing to say “Hey world! Look what I’ve done, look where I am.” but it’s even more amazing to say, “Hey world! Look how far I’ve come.” It’s such a beautiful thing to sit back and think wow, look how far I have come. To sit back and laugh about the times when I would show up late for class because I didn’t have a French cellular plan yet and I was too nervous to ask the locals for directions or how embarrassed I would feel when I would spend 15 minutes practicing in my head what I would say only to mispronounce everything so badly that no one could understand what I was saying.
With hindsight, I now see that all of these little moments were not actually failures, they were small victories. Small roadblocks that I had to get past in order to get to where I wanted to be, where I knew I could be. So for anyone preparing to study abroad, or learn a new language, or start anything challenging, just remember that it’s as much about the process or road to achieving your goals than the actual goal itself.