Bestie, we gotta talk. *clap* I will be completely honest. Ever since arriving in France, it’s been a whirlwind. It definitely takes time to adjust, and I’m not completely sure you ever can get fully adjusted. Things change, crazy things happen, and the days pass. The weird thing is that even though the time has flown by so fast, I still remember orientation week and conversing with one of the other students about how we thought the staff saying that the time will fly by is such an absurd idea. The first week was COMPLETELY busy and exhausting. Add a couple of days of jetlag and vertigo and you can understand why we felt that way.
Let me back up.
I got to the IES Abroad Center in Nantes after delay after delay, a sleepless 8-hour flight from Atlanta to France, a long 4-hour train ride, and a shared taxi ride. (If you want the specifics of my arrival day, see my other blog for my school). After being squished together in the center making awkward small talk in French as one does, I finally met my host mom. She really helped calm my nerves as she is so sweet, full of life, and so caring. I met the rest of my host family, and then I found myself swaying while unpacking. Without much sleep and with being in moving vehicles all day, my sea legs threatened to collapse, but with a strong determination to not have to finish unpacking later, I got it done. I knocked out for hours and ate a late dinner. From there on, I got to know the neighborhood, the bus system for getting to the IES Abroad Center, sat through several hours of important informational sessions all in French, tried to only speak in French the best I could, walked more than I have all summer, and saw amazing things. Come the weekend of the first week, we had back-to-back field trips where I got to meet the other students (35 in total) and finally use my expensive camera that my boyfriend got me for my 21st birthday about a month prior. I should emphasize that we had to digest a ton of French ever since we arrived in Nantes, so we weren’t just exhausted from all the traveling around, we were also mentally fatigued as our brains were constantly translating.
After that first week, we had a week of review classes with an assistant (There are 4 French assistants who are French but who know English. They are there to help us adjust and answer our questions) for some of the classes and with a French professor for the other part of the time. Then, the next two weeks we had a “shopping period” where we were taking classes but had the option to try other classes to see what schedule fit us best. During the entire time, we were adjusting to the new city, figuring out phone plans, where to buy what, participating in events that the assistants prepared, hanging out and getting to know each other, combatting the fear to talk to French people in French, looking for new places to adventure out, doing homework for classes, and figuring out how to make our lives abroad more efficient and comfortable.
During the second week of the shopping period, people finally started getting colds, and I did that weekend going into the first week of official classes. I’ll go into more detail about that later, but I was surprised it took three weeks for us to get sick given all the new germs and our immune systems not having to fight many germs for about 2 years now. Either way, we made sure it was COVID-19, and even now, some people are getting the cold after the rest of us have recovered. Like how at my college, it is known that the third week of classes comes with people getting sick from moving into their new dorms, especially the freshman, so I think it’s the same concept.
Currently, I am in the second week of official classes, and like the list of things that I listed we were doing at the same time as the orientation and shopping period, those same activities remain. There are also field trips every other Saturday which is fun, but there is also the pressure to plan our own weekend trips and what exact trip to take during our weeklong fall break in early November. Doing intense homework amid all these worries, desires, and needs makes time definitely of the essence. Every day is incredibly busy, but they also become unpredictable yet full of potential opportunities for making amazing memories.
Despite how intense yet surreal everything feels, I know that little by little I am changing and adjusting. My energy comes and goes which I think goes for the rest of the students. I, ultimately, realize that no matter what, I won’t be returning back home the same person as I left, and I am excited to see what changes October has in store (even though I am very nervous about midterms the last week of October). Hopefully, I can one day share with you any tips I gather for adjusting and how to take care of yourself throughout this experience. Until then, à bientôt!
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<p>Hello, everyone! My name is Daisy Humphries. I am a senior double majoring in Psychology and French at Wofford College. I am a first-generation college student from a small town in South Carolina, and I am beyond excited to share these once-in-a-lifetime experiences with you all from my humble perspective. I love to read, write, travel, eat food, and spend time with my family. I'm also quite determined and ambitious even if it scares me, but hey, what's bravery without some fear and nervousness? As I've learned, you have to be uncomfortable to change for the better, so let's do that!</p>