It is now true that I am practically exactly at the halfway point of my experience abroad. I am five months in and I have only five months to go. Here's what I've noticed this month.What I am going to say may be similar to this past month but I know it's totally different than what I said in September or October.
1. Ready! Set! Go! Stress for the USA starts now! It feels like as soon as you get adjusted to where you are, it's now time to start preparing for the months after you go....home, or at least what is geographically known as your home. You are not really sure where you prefer to be. Thankfully, you are pretty sure you found a place to take your SATs in France, which will take some pressure off your senior year. Other than that, it will probably be a constant battle in between work, school, college "stuff", and all those other things you don't want to think about.
2. Even when you can speak English, you don't. All those other times your host parents told you to speak French with your AFS friends, you didn't, but you sudden found yourself in the café with other exchange students rambling off in French this weekend. The funny thing is no one even told you to speak French. Speaking English just didn't seem right, and when you tried, it was hard.
|My AFS friend and me this weekend|
3. This foreign country feels like your home. You barely notice the culture differences, if they even exist! The only things you aren't sure about are the same things as the natives. For example, do I give you my cheek or my hand?
4. You are so ready for a Facetime with Nanny again! Of course, you were ready October 25th, the day after you Facetimed her for the first time, but now, you have waited a good bit of time!
5. You are already planning how you will return to the US to make it less painful. (Dad, in case you are reading this. I would like to explore New York a little after you and Mom pick me up from my orientation, then I want a big dinner with you and mom and Nanny. Please make sure you have my American sim card as soon as we meet. Three days is a long time not to communicate with your loved ones in France;)
6. You are trying to figure out not if, but when and how and where you will study abroad next. There is finally something you aren' ashamed to give up on. You've tried your best, but nothing will ever cure your passion for knowledge and understanding, especially when it comes to cultures and languages.
7. It's really cool to know what's going on, but now, you actually have to work. Eew. In school, you not only have to work on the lesson, but work on the concentration skills you have lost the past five months because you were working on a different task than everyone else and blocking them out. School is still hard.
8. You are so happy when your grandma e-mails you and calls you "Honey". It's so normal in the US, but in France, terms of affection like that are rare.You actually were surprised to even see the word in the e-mail.
9. You realize that your school system isn't a piece of cake either compared to the one in France. Thursday evening you tried to explain to your host parents that sometimes you have a specific class for three months, six months, but never the whole year unless you have the shortest class of the day. Wait, no, they changed that schedule too your second year of high school. Then, you tried to explain the graduation requirements and that your "C" in Honors math, which doesn't exist here, is nothing to be ashamed of. Friday afternoon your friend at school asked about the "E" grade in the US...I give up!