From Brussels to Barcelona and Amsterdam to Rome. A couple of hours by train is all it takes to travel from one country to another. Our weekends consist of booking last-minute trips to neighboring countries and putting together enough money to book hostels for struggling college students. Somehow it never gets old.
However, moving to Paris has proved no easy task. Having to overcome language barriers and cultural differences has presented itself as an ongoing challenge. And making French friends as an international student is harder than anyone could have imagined. Walking around aimlessly, wondering if you’ll ever find your class at this new university until someone finally notices your confused face and asks, “Ça va?” This short phrase, “How’s it going?” immediately makes you feel better and helps remind you that while it can get difficult navigating through a new city, you’re never truly alone.
Once you start regularly going to class and meeting your new peers, it all starts to feel a little more normal. That is until someone hears you speak English in a class and looks at you with a big smile as they say “Wow! Your English is really good!” You’re brought right back to reality– a place where, while your English may always be “really good,” your French will always be five steps behind.
Nevertheless, you push through. You remind yourself that you’re there for a reason. Whether that reason is to learn French, to travel to new countries or to learn more about yourself, there’s always something that’s pushing you forward and urging you to stay
And after a while, you begin to understand exactly why you’re here. Day by day and week by week, you learn something new about the world and about yourself. You start looking at the world through a new perspective, through a lens you never knew existed. You meet people from all over the world and create friendships with them. You learn to appreciate the world in an unexpected way.
I never expected moving abroad would lead me to admire parts of myself that went unnoticed back home. My ability to foster new relationships with people I just met, as well as my understanding of the importance and beauty of different backgrounds. I understand just how important my willingness to delve into cultures different than my own is. It has forced me to take a step back and realize how much moving abroad has taught me in these two short months that I’ve been living away from home. As time goes on, I become more excited to discover what I will continue to learn in the months ahead, living in a world so different from the one I’ve known.
This post was contributed by Lola Moreno, a Global Ambassador for Fall 2023. Lola is a junior journalism studies major studying abroad in Paris, France.