When I leave home to go back to Portland for school, I usually feel some type of homesickness within the first week. I assume this is because I get nervous about being alone, and honestly, becoming/being an adult is a little scary to me. At home, I still see myself as a young adult: not quite an adult, but enough of one to have various responsibilities, since my parents and the rest of my family is there. But at school, I'm the adult. I run all of my own errands, I have to do chores and clean up after myself (more so than when I'm home), and I ultimately feel more independent. This semester is a little trickier though. Because I'm in a homestay, and due to the cultural differences in familial roles, the amount of responsibilities I have is even less than I had when I was home. Now, I'm not complaining, but it will take me awhile to adjust to not making dinner, not doing all of my laundry myself, or even not taking the trash out.
I think my lack of homesickness is due to me not being completely independent this semester. I even thought that because of the 9 hour time difference between me and my family, that it would be hard to remain in contact and keep them updated about everything that's going on. I was horribly wrong because it turns out my family's lunch time is my dinner time. After a week and a half, we've already set up Skype times on Sunday nights. I do miss my family terribly, but then I remember that I won't be away from them any longer that I normally would. And honestly, I can barely tell that we're separated by over 5000+ miles (as opposed to almost exactly 1000 miles). Having a cat at my homestay definitely helps me miss my own cats less, even though no cat can replace the adorable Frappi and the crazed Percy (pictures will be included, of course).
Sometimes I do wish we lived in dorms while abroad, to ease the pressure of being a good/perfect homestay guest, but I think having a homestay is necessary for being eased into the French culture, and for helping students adjust and not be (as) homesick. Ultimately, I don't think I would trade being in a homestay for anything. I think it's the perfect way for us to learn the culture and daily life here, making us truly immersed.
Onto exploring the city!
After learning that France turns into a ghost town on Sundays (it seems as if 99% of all stores are closed or have very limited hours), my friend and I decided to kind of get lost in the city and just take a walk. I knew from talking to my brothers that the amount of ethnic cuisine was a litte limited. I expected some usual Italian, maybe some type of Asian, but nothing from Mexico/South America. Then I arrived and those expectations were a little wrong. Within a few blocks of my homestay and the IES Abroad center are numerous sushi places, Indian or Turkish or other Middle Eastern/South Asian restaurants. I even found a tiny Mexican restaurant, and I was very surprised to see a surprising amount of taco/burrito fixings at the store. When I left the US, I made sure to get my fix of Mexican food, as I learned that it wasn't widely available here in France, and I couldn't be happier that that seems to be changing a little. I look forward to slowly but surely trying all of these restaurants, because I miss the availability of eating whatever type of food I want (living in Vegas spoils you a lot). Reviews of these restaurants will surely come soon!
One last thing, apparently I get two one-week long vacations this semester, as opposed to just one one-week vacation. It's a little stressful trying to plan trips around Europe or in France after only being here for about two weeks. Right now, there are talks of going to Italy in February (or maybe just in and around France), and then Ireland/Great Britain in April. It's a little too early to tell what exactly my friends are planning on doing, but it's super exciting to be able to travel around Europe for not much money! I of course want to spend a weekend (maybe a long weekend) in Paris to explore what everyone (at least everyone in France) calls the most beautiful city in the world. I think it will be a little hard to just spend one weekend there, since there is just so much to do and so many museums and monuments to visit.
Studying abroad is probably one of my best decisions of my life, and I know this is true after only two weeks. This has opened up so many opportunities for me, not only for traveling and exploring, but also for making friends, becoming more cultured, becoming more fluent in French, and of course, for learning more about the history of France and Europe.
That's all for now! Hopefully my next post will include tales of many delicious meals!
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<p>I'm Iggy Takahashi, a junior studying biochemistry and French studies at the University of Portland and studying abroad in Nantes, France. I love baking, cooking, travelling, exploring, and of course spending time with my family and cats. I have traveled to Spain, China, and throughout the United States, and I hope to continue to do so after graduating!</p>