From California to Lyon, France: living & studying abroad…and coming back!
But it’s better late than never! :)
I just got back from a week long vacation in Spain, and I was soooo appreciative coming back to France. I had missed speaking and hearing the language; I missed the people; and, of course, I missed the food.
There are a lot less people than I thought there would be in Spain who speak English.
Studying abroad has been quite a broadening experience; I felt really small at first when I realized that I know very little about the world back at home in my comfortable university bubble. It’s a privilege to know English and have it as a native language; it feels weird exercising that privilege abroad (by going up to people and saying, “Excuse me, do you speak English?”) — it feels rude, especially with the stereotypical image of the rude, arrogant American in my mind. I tried my best to learn some Spanish words, but I am so thankful my travel buddy knew enough of the language to help us get around and help us get fed.
By the time I got back to France, I was craving for a shared language. Something so simple as asking a random person directions to a place and understanding what they’re saying is so liberating.
Without language, life feels so isolated. Language can be so powerful and so connecting; I couldn’t really appreciate it before without being thrown into an experience in which I lost that power.
French is my second language, and learning it has definitely been adventure and a trial, especially since by brain pruned away some of those language-learning capabilities. It’s such a reward to be able to communicate with people from other cultures, but sometimes it’s overwhelming to think about it.
Those air steward(esse)s on EasyJet are sure impressive. Each one knows at least two languages, and the announcements were all multilingual (French + English from Lyon to Barcelona and Spanish + French + English from Madrid to Lyon). It makes me wonder: how many languages will I be able to learn and retain throughout my life?
I have about a month and a half left of this semester, then I’m going to go back to the States for Christmas. It’ll be my first time back since my arrival here, and I’m sure it’ll be a little weird! I’m excited to see my family, especially my little baby cousin who I hear can say my name now :)
And after getting back from Spain, I realize that I’ve adjusted to life here. I missed the simple things, such as saying “Bonjour” and “Bonne journée” to the bus driver in the morning, buying food at Carrefour, and having cafés and good + inexpensive food everywhere, and speaking to all my professors in French.
I know I’m going to crave speaking French when I finally do return to the States after this year. It’s going to be hard, especially since French sounds just so pretentious to Americans. But I’m sure I’m going to keep little French language ticks for a while. It was definitely hard to get rid of the “like” Californian language tick here, but I’m sure glad it’s gone…well, for the most part :)