It’s kind of funny to think that I’m studying abroad while studying abroad. To clear up any confusion, I have lived in Accra, Ghana, for most of my life and I moved to the US in 2021 for university. I’m considered by most of my family and friends as someone who is studying abroad. Yet this study abroad feels a little different. I get excited about traveling. It’s the main reason why I decided to study abroad this summer—second to completing my French credits of course. But as the days leading up to my flight came around, I couldn’t ignore the intense fear I started to feel. I would literally start to panic a little thinking about how soon I was flying out. I told my friend about the way I was feeling and she asked me “Do you mind sharing what these exact fears are?” I remember hesitating not because I did not want to share my fears, but because I was not sure myself what these fears were. I think it would be a great idea to unpack said fears before my program in Arles actually begins. They’re probably the same fears most people face when preparing for similar programs too!
I’m scared of traveling solo
This particular fear does not apply to everyone. Some people manage to do programs with their friends and then they travel together. Unfortunately for me, all of my friends who also study French are either less advanced in the language, more advanced in the language, or studying abroad in Paris! The truth is that traveling alone is not half as scary as it sounds. I’m surprised that this is a fear that came up for me in the first place, seeing as I’ve traveled back to Ghana alone a couple of times. The difference though is that I was going home. This time it’s scary because I don’t know what to expect of this new place and whatever I encounter, I’ll have to face by myself for the first few moments. But those moments will be over before I know it, and I’ll have made tons of friends from the program. Thinking about it from this perspective transforms my fear back into excitement real quick!
I’m scared of getting lost
…and I probably will. I’ve been told that Arles is a small town. Based on this information, I’m telling myself that no matter how lost and confused I get, I’ll find my way back home. I cannot count how many times I got lost during my first week at university, but somehow, I always made it to my class, my rehearsal, and sometimes my dorm. Getting lost is a natural part of exploring a new environment. And in this time of Google Maps, best believe I’ll be finding my way home eventually.
I’m scared the locals will despise my French
I have to confess that this is by far my greatest fear. You and I both know the horror stories of people who have visited some part of France or the other and were met with hostile people who insisted on speaking English to them even when they wanted to practice their French. I am terrified that someone will tell me off because of my accent or mispronunciation of a word. It takes a lot to come back from that when you’re learning a language. But hey, there'll also be amazing French speakers who will appreciate that I’m learning, and who will support me in whatever way they can. (Let’s hope and pray I only meet those ones.) If I receive corrections. I will accept them gracefully and improve my French. Isn’t that what this is all about?
Outlining my fears about studying abroad is a good first step to facing them. I know that by the end of it all, I’ll be struggling to remember what I was so afraid of anyway. Looking forward to an exciting time in Arles!
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Nana Akua Annoh-Quarshie
I'm Nana from Ghana! Aside from documenting experiences I appreciate, I love to eat, sleep and watch romcoms. I think screenwriters are a gift to mankind. I am passionate about my family and friends, and try to do my best to show them just that. :)