Friday, June 23, 2017

What NOT to Say When I Get Back

      As I put my finishing touches on my French fluency exams and I can literally put all of the days I have left on a single page in Microsoft Word when making a calendar for my last month (not even) in France, my mind suddenly comes to the realization that it tries so often to ignore...again: Wow, there isn't much time left. My mind can't help but wander to the US every once in a while. I can only imagine how popular I will be when I get back, with people bombarding me to ask what I did during my year abroad, how the flight back was, and all in between. An exchange student often feels increased frustration coming home because of the types of questions people ask or the type of things they say, even when they mean well, that explicitly show that they don't understand what the student has just been through. Here are some questions/remarks that it is typically better to avoid, especially the first few months after arrival and during readjustment.

       1. How was your trip/vacation/voyage? It simply wasn't that. I did travel a little bit, but that wasn't my main focus. I worked as hard here as I did in the US, just in different ways.
       2. Do you speak French? Yes, I do. Even if my host mom speaks English as well as I do, we still talk in French!

       3. What was your favorite part? I am going to give you a list of dates and you will most likely have no idea what they correspond to. I don't have a favorite part! 
      4. Is the US or France better? I didn't do this to choose a country. I can say now there are things I prefer about the US and there are things I prefer about France. My heart is in both countries, however.

      5. Don't be sad that it's over. You can go back and visit. I know I can. What I won't be able to do is go back to when I was 16 with all the same people and the same "feeling". Visiting will be great, but it just won't be the same. This is the year I grew up.
      6. Do French people shower? Please don't pull out all those ridiculous stereotypes on French people (even if it makes me laugh!)
      7. You are so lucky! Even before I left, when people called it "luck" or got jealous about my year abroad, my blood pressure rose. I worked my guts out to get here, and I arrived and worked more. I am fortunate but not lucky.

      8. Overusage of home: Coming home, back home....I often have to stop myself from saying these types of things myself. France is no less my home than the US. I am leaving home to go home.



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