It's Just the Beginning

Stella M. is currently a junior at SYA France and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Saint Mary's Hall in Texas.

As the year comes to an end, I find myself reflecting on what it was like at the beginning. I remember sitting down with my host family for our first dinner together. I remember barely understanding the rapid French that was being spoken. I remember the first night, feeling anxious and overwhelmed, doubting my decision to come to SYA. And now, here I am, not in the slightest ready to leave it all behind. The truth is that it can be scary to say goodbye. Having lived in Rennes for nine months, it truly does feel like home to me. I have heard the words “two weeks” quite frequently in the past couple days, and all I can say is that time goes by very, very quickly.

In all honesty, this final blog post is pretty hard to write. It’s almost as if someone posed the question, “How was France?” I simply would not know how to respond. However, I’ll try.

Living abroad is fun. It’s really fun. The trips we have taken, whether it was as a class or with friends, have been incredible, and I will always cherish those memories, whether it was running on the beach in Camaret-Sur-Mèr or strolling the streets in Paris. Scrolling through my camera roll, it’s crazy to think that we’ve covered so much ground. You never know what you can find, what you can learn, and what you can discover, about yourself or the world around you. That is something I love about travel.

The food in France is delicious. Galettes will always hold a special place in my heart, especially the ones made by my host parents. I will miss terribly the croissants and the fresh baguettes, and it will be bizarre to return to unsalted butter.

Change is hard to recognize, but patience is key. There were times when I was frustrated, as I couldn’t tell if I was making any progress. It’s not easy to see personal improvement in a language, but as long as you trust the process and put in the effort, improvement comes right along.

That leads me to my next point. It’s not always easy. Personally, I have never felt the kind of happiness I’ve felt over the past nine months. However, I would be lying if I were to say that I never went through some difficult periods. Challenges come at you while living abroad that you don’t always know how to handle at first. It can be overwhelming, but as the saying goes “There is always light at the end of the tunnel.”

As this blog post is coming to an end, I’d like to thank some people. To all of my friends, you guys are some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. As I said before, living abroad can be tough at times, but having friends by your side makes all the difference. To Marine, Ludovic, Aurèle, Albane, and Alix, you are the best host family anyone could ever ask for. I will never forget how at home you all made me feel, from the very beginning. This year would not have been nearly the same without you all, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to express how grateful I am for that. To everyone at SYA, Madame Qadir, all of the incredible teachers, and each student: Thank you for the best year of my life. It’s hard to face it, but all good things eventually have to come to end. I am so glad I made the decision to do SYA France. If I could give one piece of advice to any future students, it would be to treat everyday like it’s your last. Because the end comes a lot sooner than you would imagine.

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