Between a rock and hard place

Alexandra Hall Rocha
September 26, 2016

Before leaving to study abroad you go through multiple orientations that try to prepare you as best they can for the unknown and unpredictable. You sit through sessions on dealing with culture shock, nerves, and homesickness and what you can do to get through all those. You understand that there will be so many things that you will miss about your home; your mom’s food, your friends, and air conditioning were some of mine. So before I left I made sure to eat as much as I could, I spent time with all of my family and friends, and I would set the AC to below 70 at home to get away from the summer heat, while I still could. But it hasn’t been as bad as I imagined.

I miss my family and friends everyday but I’m able to text, or call, or Skype with them almost daily. It may not be the same, but Facebook has allowed to know almost every detail of my loved ones’ lives even all the way across an entire ocean. Also, the lack of air conditioned rooms isn’t the end of the world and it is making me appreciate the cooler weather that I had previously feared. So, yes I miss all of the good things in my life from back home, but it’s manageable. What I didn’t expect was to miss the bad.

While I am thousands of miles away with an amazing group of people and exploring an unknown place, the United States is going through a heartbreaking historical moment. I wake up to more and more deaths of men of color in Tulsa and Charlotte and the sense of hopelessness is ten times what I felt back in the United States. While I was back home, I would see it on the news, on my social media feed, I would talk about it with family and friends, and through this constant interaction with heartbreaking stories I would also see hope. I would see hope in the posts written in favor of the BLM movement, in the hard but necessary conversations, and in the determination I saw in the eyes of the people that surrounded me. But in France it is so easy to escape from all of that. The people here know about the shootings, but it is not what consumes their thoughts. Here I am able to forget that countless men and women of color have lost their lives because our system and society has failed them. But I don’t want to forget; ignorance may be bliss, but it is also lethal.

I find myself between a rock and a hard place, I want to be able to immerse myself fully into my experience abroad and appreciate all aspects of life in France, but I also feel the need to stay connected to the events taking place back at home. And so I must find a balance, and I believe that will be my greatest lesson learned in these next three months, if I am able to achieve it.

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Alexandra Hall Rocha

<p>Hello! My name is Alex and I am originally from Colima, Mexico, the fourth smallest state in Mexico. I moved to California when I was four and have switched between the two places throughout my life. I have been surrounded by palm trees and good weather my entire life and now I will be in Paris, with 50&deg; weather and not a palm tree in sight and I honestly couldn&#39;t be more excited. I cannot wait to explore the unknown territory and immerse myself in the diverse culture that exists in Paris, all while enjoying the sights, the people, and of course, the food!</p>

2016 Fall
Home University:
Santa Clara University
Political Science
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