Ella S. is currently a senior at SYA France and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from University School of Nashville in Tennessee.
Christmas break brought an end to the first semester, and therefore a pause after four months living here in Rennes. As my host family and I parted ways after a fantastic dinner of Foie Gras to celebrate my eighteenth birthday, I left Rennes to spend two weeks with my American family, traveling in northern France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. During those 14 days I took time to reflect upon my journey in this new country thus far, as well as decide how I want to spend the next five. Therefore, I’ve decided to include some of my thoughts, feelings, experiences, and resolutions.
It is definitely a series of ups and downs. It’s not all going to be rainbows and butterflies, and that’s okay. Adjusting to a new culture, language, school, and family is difficult, especially when it’s all at the same time. When you leave all of your previous reference points behind, that can be disorienting. There are days when your head will feel like it will explode from speaking in an entirely different language than you are used to, times when academics can be frustrating, or nights where all you want is your own bed. Coming to the realization that it isn’t always going to be smooth sailing, and that there will be tumultuous waters, has been an important step in the adjustment to my new life here. Deciding to spend a year abroad in high school has been a big stretch for me, and it has come with challenges, as it should. However, it’s these challenges that have pushed me to grow immensely.
Although on a day-to-day basis it doesn’t feel like much is changing, in retrospect I’ve come to see how far I’ve really come since my arrival September 1st. I have built such a great relationship with my host family (really just host parents, as it’s just us three in the house), and they have been so supportive and understanding in all my adjustments. They really make an effort to make me feel at home, and it really feels like I am a part of their family. My French has improved drastically, and while I certainly still make mistakes and forget certain words, I can’t help but compare my ability now to maintain an in-depth discussion with my host dad on the future of the E.U. to my stumbling over words and timidness at the beginning of the year. I tell them about my day over dinner without second thought, and I’m able to watch a dubbed James Bond and grasp most of what is going on. I navigate the bus system with ease, and I took pride in showing my American parents around Rennes when they came to visit. All I’m waiting for is warmer weather so I can spend more days sunbathing in Parc du Thabor.
At dinner last night, my host mom told me that even though there are five months left, they will fly by, and my time in France will be over before I know it. She reiterated a favorite phrase of her, “Profitez-bien,” roughly translating to “enjoy”. For 2019 I’ve decided to adopt this as my own motto, to try to soak up all that I can here before my time is done. Although it can be hard, I’m working on not letting my challenges here take away from all of the other great things that I’m experiencing. I want to maintain perspective on the year as a whole, and to not let the bumps in the road get in the way of pursuing and achieving my goals. If it flies by, so be it, but I’ll be living life along the way to the fullest.
- Campus Reporters
- SYA France