I have been in Paris for four weeks. In that four weeks I have probably had every emotion known to man. When I was coming over here, I was nervous but I swore I would absolutely love it. I was going to be different that everyone I knew who had studied before. I mean, come on, I was going to Paris! I had taken French for six years and had studied abroad before in High School in France. I can do this no problem.
I was wrong. This is by far the hardest thing I have ever done. Nothing in my life can compare to leaving everyone I know and love behind and starting fresh in a new country where I don't know the customs or traditions and have barely functional conversational French. When I got here I had no contacts in Paris, no leads on finding an apartment and if it wasn't for ParisAccomdation.com I would have either been living in a hotel/hostel or on the street.
Since I started classes, there hasn't been one day where I don't wonder what my friends back in SB are doing. How are global classes going to be this quarter? I wonder who is going to hook up with whom? What is going on back in Suite 6111? I wonder what I would be doing right now if I were in SB.
And it is so easy for me to get trapped in this alternate reality in my mind. I can just close my eyes and live in my memories. I can create a world where I am where I want to be and nothing exists but what I want to exist. It is easy, it is comfortable, it is safe.
And then I think about my reality. I still don't have an apartment, I still don't know anyone super well, I still can't speak French, and it is ok. This is what is going to make me who I will be in a year. These last four weeks are going to be the hardest part of my year abroad. It is impossible for me to become more unfamiliar with France. I can only get to know it better. It can only become more comfortable for me. My french can only improve. I can only become better friends with the people I already know.
And I need to talk about dinner tonight. I have written about dinners here a lot. Tonight I was freaking out because I have to turn in a paper tomorrow in my vomit-inducing, cold-sweat prompting, please-for-the-love-of-god-get-me-home, steaming pile of international law systems class. I hadn't finished reading the articles for it. One was eighteen pages and the other was six. All in French. Anyway, I know how long dinners in the Bonhomme household last (not that its a bad thing at all!), so I was stressing to make sure I had enough time to finish and print out the paper.
Getting back to dinner, Sunday is family dinner night. I always look forward to it, not because I don't have anything to say to Michele, but because it is a lot of fun talking with Jerome and Georgina. They are closer to my age and a lot of fun to be around. Tonight Georgiana told me she read my blog. After that, we all started talking about homesickness. It was really nice that they didn't look at me weird for every once in a while wanting to go home. Georgiana actually put it in perspective for me. She has been away from her comfort zone for three years, leaving behind family, friends, and all she has been familiar with to start a family here in France.
If she can do that, I can at least do this. I have to say though, that was our last Sunday dinner. I am leaving here on October 1. As of 23:51 on Sept 26, 2010 I do not know 100% where I will be living in one week. But I do know I will miss the meals and the sounds and smells and everything about this household. The feeling of being part of a family when I miss mine and haven't been home in a long time. But this is making me a better person. And in the grand scope of things, studying abroad in Paris isn't really something that anyone should complain about. How many people are lucky enough to do this?
I just need to take my blinders off and look at the bigger picture. Remind me of that, ok?