I am now at my halfway point on this alien planet and I am surviving.
I actually don’t want to leave France, or Europe at all. I have learned so many new aspects of the French culture as well as the language. It’s amazing how all my dreams have come true. From eating escargot at a sparkling chandelier restaurant in Lyon, to swimming in the French Riviera.
Although being homesick is sometimes a reality here, it only comes in waves. For a few weeks, I will be so busy with all my university activities and trips that I don’t even think about it. But there are those few times that you catch a cold and all you want is your mom to take care of you or your dad to make you your favorite meal.
One thing you should know is that culture shock will hit you so hard that your $10 sunglasses from target will fall off. Yeah, Europe isn’t terribly different from the United States but there are plenty of little things that add up. For example, the Texas southern hospitality is a huge deal and you grow up with those habits. In France, I’ve noticed it is quite the opposite… TRUST ME. No one really smiles at strangers here. The French are very private people when it comes to a smile here and there. When I first arrived, I smiled all the time and to everyone. The amount of weird looks I received back is priceless! Here is a list of normal European things I’ve learned:
- Wine for lunch and dinner… EVERYDAY… “it’s for my health”
- The French love vacations and not so much work
- No smiling unless you know them
- Showers are a sitting in the tub situation with a handheld showerhead
- There’s no toilet paper in public restrooms so bring your own (B.Y.O.TP)
- They do two kisses to say goodbye and hello so don’t think they’re trying any moves; and you might go the wrong way, so don’t worry– it gets more awkward.
I am staying with a host mom, Camille, and she is the sweetest lady. She cooks for us, cleans for us, and makes sure we get healthy fast if we get sick. I have honestly learned most of my French speaking with her at dinner and during the day. My roommate and I help with dishes after dinner and making sure our rooms stay clean. My favorite dish she has made for us so far is Ratatouille!! I can eat this day and night if she lets me. Though, again, there can be minor miscommunications here and there. For example, one night my host mom asked me if we would be staying home for dinner the next day and we said yes but we will be arriving late because of a school activity. When we showed up the next day, she had left out of town for the night because she understood that we were going out for dinner after our school activity. So let’s just say we lost a pound or two overnight.
Midterms are coming up this week so I am buckling down on the travel but I hope to start up again pretty soon. My next destination is backpacking through Italy for our Fall break. I have spent a lot of weekends staying in my host city of Aix-en-Provence and have discovered a new area each time. I have loved every second of studying abroad and can’t believe it’s almost over! I don’t want it to be…
I hope you keep following my time abroad and I will update you on more next time!
P.S. Bradley Cooper studied abroad in this city too!!
This post was contributed by Katherine Velez, a 2018 Global Ambassador.
Don’t get left behind. Read more about Katherine’s study abroad experience>>