Sunday, September 12, 2010
I feel like I have been in France for two years, not two weeks. Thinking about all the changes that have happened in my life since I arrived here makes me tired. I flew on three planes, hung out in London, went to Switzerland for the day yesterday, gone to countless bars and restaurants, I’ve rode the tram at least ten times a day, my French has improved, I’ve made friends, lost friends, been involved in a mini love triangle and spent way too much money. We have plans to go to Nice next weekend, Provence two weeks after that, Prague for Halloween, Paris in November then maybe Amsterdam, Munich or Barcelona whenever we can fit it in. I’m exhausted and ready to go home.
It’s been a good experience so far, but all of a sudden, I realized how much has changed in my life and I got scared and I’m craving the comfort of home.
A group of us took a bus to Geneva on Saturday for the day. Geneva was the prettiest city I have ever seen. Beautiful old buildings and an incredible view of the mountains. We wanted to visit the UN but it was closed so we went to the Red Cross Museum which was interesting. Then we spent most of the day sitting in the sun near Lake Geneva. But we left at 6:20 am and everyone was cranky and a little bored/frustrated that there wasn’t more to do in Geneva and I think at this point, we’re all missing home and the things we’re used to. We were thrilled to find a Starbucks and we ate dinner at McDonald’s in Geneva.
I hadn’t missed home until we were eating at McDonald’s in Geneva and everything was expensive and they charged us for ketchup packets and I have a mess of Euros, British pounds and Swiss Francs in my wallet which I can’t tell apart so I get frustrated and miss stupid things about home like American money and how easy it is to tell the coins apart.
I’m tired of eating dinner so late, and for us to take an hour to eat. I’m tired of sitting across from my host mother at dinner and struggling to communicate with her in French. I’m tired of the French language in general. I can tell I’ve already made progress but I still have so much to learn and it just feels overwhelming.
Classes started last Wednesday and I had a four hour French class. I’m so tired at night because it takes so much brain power during the day to speak and listen in French. We have language lab where we have to read things out loud and listen to radio broadcasts and answer questions. On my first listening worksheet, I managed to get every question wrong. But my resident director assured me that it’s normal to struggle in class at first. I do hope it gets better.
The good thing about classes here is that there isn’t much, if any, homework. I only get homework for my French Language class. I’m also taking three lecture classes which give no outside work except for one paper and a final exam because the professors know we’re here to travel, not really to study.
Our resident director told us it’s normal to feel homesick and to get frustrated with France and the way they do things. Right now I feel incredibly close minded, but when you’re so far from home and out of your comfort zone, you miss the familiar. I know Nice will be fun and two weeks from now I will be in love with France and never want to leave. This homesickness is just part of the process.