So I've been home for about a week now, and I still not exactly sure what I can say about my return. I've been putting off this post, waiting for something, like obvious symptoms of "reverse culture shock" or missing a huge part of my weekly routine that doesn't exist here at home, but I don't think anything like that has actually happened. So far, it seems like I wasn't gone for too long. Life at home hasn't changed, so I'm not sure what kind of differences I should be looking for or noticing. I mean, sure it's a little weird only hearing English, seeing more people driving than walking (it also doesn't help that it's around 90+ degrees this week), or having American fast food, but they're things and norms that I've been experiencing for my whole life; there's no "shock" of experiencing anything differently. The one thing I have noticed that is drastically different (but hasn't changed) is my role in my family. At my real home, I'm an older and little sister, a second mom, a chauffeur, a companion, and more. However, at my host home, I was more of a roommate, "daughter", and the occasional baby and cat sitter. I think the main reasons these roles are so different are because (a) I felt and was treated more like a guest than a true family member at my host home, (b) I didn't have any siblings at my host home (compared to the 4 I have at my home), and (c) the difference in gender roles in the home. Points (a) and (b) kinda go together. Although I did interact a lot with my host family, I was used to a completely different "feel" or definition of a family. I'm used to chaos, busy-ness, and constant coming and going. My experience at my host home was completely the opposite. It was very calm, quite, and very little commotion, which was a little weird to me. I think that made it a little more difficult for me to truly blend in and feel like a family member. I've never experienced being in a family of that small. Of course, I'm still extremely grateful that I was in that host family, considering the amount of dietary restrictions they had to work with. I mean, I know there were other students who had the exact opposite experience, where they came from very small families and were put in huge host families, and they too were a little jarred at the beginning just due to the drastic differences in family dynamics. On to point (c). The gender roles in France are kinda similar to those in America in the...50s? In most cases, the mother works a very traditionally "feminine" job, like a teacher or is a stay at home mom, while the father is the bread winner, and the wife cooks and cleans the house. These types of gender roles are dying out in the states, and we see more and more stay at home dads and wives who are the bread winners. These roles were very evident in my host family, but completely nonexistent in my actual home, where my dad or the kids do most of the cooking. I'm very used to helping out around the house, so it was kinda bizarre to have dinner served to me each night (I did help do the dishes every night though). Again, the family dynamics were just very different. Overall, I am very happy I was placed with this particular host family and I think it made my experiences and transition in France much easier and quicker. I think it also helped me see things from a different point of view. For example, I know what it feels like to live in a very small family, live close to downtown, and be, essentially, an only child. Unfortunately, this will be my last blog post, so I'll use the last hundred or so words left in this post to summarize my experience. Studying abroad in Nantes has been an incredible and unforgettable experience that I wouldn't trade for anything. I have met amazing people, travelled around Europe, and have had so many awesome experiences. Being in a French immersion program has immensely helped with me learning and improving my French. The courses I took at the IES Abroad center were very valuable and interesting. I highly recommend this program to anyone looking for a French immersion program in France. Well, I hope you have enjoyed reading my posts and updates throughout the semester! Thank you so much for reading! Have a fantastic summer!
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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>