A New Normal

Annika M. is currently a junior at SYA France and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Hanover High School in New Hampshire.

As I sit here writing this I am also talking to a friend, helping them with Art History homework. I would do this all the time in France, me sitting on one side of a common room table, my friend on the other. Only now, I am talking with this friend through a screen, each sitting at our own desks, separated by 1,000 miles instead of two feet. This is my new normal. 

Almost a month has passed since I’ve sat in the SYA France common room. It was the first room I saw when I entered the school. The last room I saw before I left. It was also the room I sat in when I found out that we were being sent home. As I sat there that last day, I felt every emotion: anxiety, sadness, disappointment, relief, happiness, gratitude. Despite the year being cut short, I couldn’t help but laugh remembering my first day at school, how lost I was. I smiled thinking about my first presentation on the common room stage and how much my French had improved since then. I took a deep breath and got up, absorbing my final moments in the building, the place where I had spent the most time during my all too brief séjour en France.  

Following my goodbyes to the school and my teachers, I went and said goodbye to some of my other favorite places in Rennes. I stopped by Place Hoche, one of the first places I discovered in the city. I stopped by a favorite panini stand, a favorite crêpe stand, savoring the last bites of true French food. I walked by Parliament, remembering the first and last weekends in my favorite city. I finally walked home, stopping outside my front door and realizing that this would be one of the last times I would play my game of guessing which one of my 5 host siblings would be sitting in the kitchen when I walked in. I didn’t want this to be my last time, I didn’t want to say good-bye. 

Eventually the morning of my final day arrived, and I had to say goodbye: to my city, my family, my best friends. I miss them every day, but I know I’ll see them again whether that be in two months, 6 months, or a year. For now, I will focus on my new normal, one that still involves all the aspects of my life in France, just in a new, changed way. 

Merci à toutes et à tous pour la meilleure année de ma vie : vous me manquez tellement!

  • Campus Reporters
  • SYA France
A New Normal

Annika compares her new normal to her life in Rennes in her last blog.


Luke recalls a recent memory that encapsulates the lessons he learned from SYA.