I’ve been home for one week, and I go back to school in one more week. It’s been filled mostly with telling and retelling the same stories to different people, but I’m glad to be back. It’s tough to say that France made me appreciate the fact that I’m American or that I live in the United States, because that’s not quite exactly what I realized. I think a better way of putting it is that I came to appreciate things that are truly American: the Blues, William Faulkner, the BioShock video games. I feel a sort of pride in the fact that my country has its own history, its own art, and its own culture. Growing up in the South, one becomes complacent with the way things are, and while there is most certainly a world outside, it’s hard to imagine it. I knew that there were other cultures out there, but I also grew up with the mindset of “well, we just don’t have the history of Europe.” No, we don’t, that much is true. Europe has been kicking for centuries, but I came to appreciate what we do have.
For instance, I met a girl while in France, another IES student, who is very involved in Native American activism. Coupling that with my new found appreciation of the States, I want to look more into the history of the Native peoples. I want to become more knowledgeable about their cultures and histories. The States may not have as long a history as Europe in terms of the country the United States, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have history and culture reaching back centuries.
I feel like I am readjusting to American life well enough. Jet lag was not as bad as I had expected, and the general atmosphere that has greeted me has been overall welcoming. My next big step will be going back to university in a few days and reimmersing myself in that life. Having a few days at home will undoubtedly ease the transition. However, I do still find myself doing small French ticks: I’ll put my bread directly on the table to the left of the plate, I’ll use Frenchisms in my English, or I’ll make comments on how something we do is done differently in France.
I wish I had more to say, because I had a magnificent time in France, but I suppose all I could want to say here are things I’ve already said in previous posts. As for the program itself, I enjoyed it. IES was a fantastic program, well run and extremely effective at immersing us in the Arlesienne life. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for anything. It’s been an experience for me, and I sincerely hope my blog posts have been entertaining and informative for you. Au revoir!
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<div><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Miller McLean, and I am a rising senior majoring in English and French while minoring in German at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I grew up in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, but have always wanted to get out and see the world. At school, I am involved in the German Club, the Culture Committee, and the pre-law organization Phi Alpha Delta. In my free time, I like to read, write, and play music. Since beginning my French studies in high school, I have taken an interest in foreign languages and cultures, and I hope that my stay in Arles will help expand my world view and improve my knowledge of French. I look forward to the challenges and opportunities that France will offer me, and I hope you enjoy my posts about my journey!</span></div>