I can already tell that leaving Nantes is going to be one of the hardest things I’ll have to do in my life. While I’ve never been away from my parents for this long before, I’ve also never felt closer to them than I do now and that makes it so much harder for me to return home.
Neither of my parents is French but they met and married in France and French is their common language. I wouldn’t say that I was reared as French children are but my daily life has always had a French influence from how we eat salad, to the language of dinner conversation, and even down to the pronunciation of my name. Before I came to France, these cultural aspects were somewhat meaningless. I had never been to France and couldn’t picture the places my parents described in their stories. My mediocre spoken French frequently frustrated me and I tired of correcting people when they mispronounced my name (hint: it’s not KAY-DEE). Francophone culture was not mine – it was my parents’.
But now that I’ve lived in the country where they met and become much more competent in the language that they speak every day, I finally connect with this huge piece of my family’s puzzle and have started to adopt it as my own. French is no longer just that language my parents speak and France is more than just a place in my imagination. French is a language I speak and France is a second home.
I look forward to sitting down with my parents and telling them all about my adventure, but I dread having to leave the place where I learn something new about them each day. But I know this is not the end of my relationship with France and I can’t wait to see how the past six months will impact the rest of my life.
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<p><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);">Katie Nodjimbadem is a junior at Northwestern University majoring in journalism and planning to minor in French. She enjoys writing about diversity and culture for North by Northwestern magazine and loves interacting with prospective students as a campus tour guide. Katie bleeds purple and loves to cheer on her fellow wildcats at varsity sporting events. As the daughter of two Francophone parents, she desires to improve her French to better understand her heritage and strengthen her ties with her extended family.</span></p>