This past semester, I spent five months studying and living in Paris. I never thought I would actually make it to France, despite studying the French language and culture for six years. It was truly one of the greatest times in my life thus far.
A lot of my friends who studied abroad before me told me how much their time in a foreign country changed them. They told me how much they learned about themselves. While impressed, I didn’t necessarily think that would happen for me. My one goal at the beginning of the semester was to improve my French so that I could be close to fluent. This did happen (thank you to my host mom and everyone refusing to speak English with me! That was fun!), but I also really did learn a lot about myself.
For five months, I tried to speak and live like a Parisian. I learned that Parisians really love their chic black ensembles, and while I definitely cannot subject myself to wearing black every day, I incorporated other things into my sense of style. Especially while traveling, I realized the benefits of having a few staple sweaters and skirts could mix well with multiple other things. That one pair of boots is also a life saver since carrying shoes around is not ideal.
All in all, study abroad was nothing like I expected, but everything I needed. When I came home, not only was I in culture shock, but I had a new sense of purpose. I’m about ready to go into my senior year of undergrad and for once, I feel like I know the direction of my life. Some of that is also due to this amazing research internship I scored (yay NSF)! But that’s for another post.