“We travel because we need to, because distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our mind has been changed, and that changes everything.” -Jonah Lehrer
Traveling abroad with Greenheart Travel was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The two weeks abroad in France were both incredible and I had a blast completely immersing myself in a different language and culture. I feel like I changed so much mentally and physically (definitely more buff from all the walking) from my time in France. It’s such a rewarding feeling taking the skills we learn in textbooks and utilizing them in the real world. It feels surreal. From purchasing a train ticket à la gare de La Hume to asking about the oldest church in La Teste, my French skills came to life and gave all those verb conjugations and French vocabulary cards meaning.
My prediction on my previous blog came true. I do miss my host mom, Valérie, more than anyone else because she’s the one I felt most comfortable around. I miss her light beige house with the beautiful garden and the clothesline in the backyard. I miss hearing the song “Manic” by Caravan Palace every night when she prepared dinner. I miss the salami and arugula and cheese sandwiches. I miss the pink-orange sunsets with the most wondrous clouds she took Hannes and I to see over oysters. I miss the bay she took me to where the water was way too cold to get into and swim in. That’s the funny thing about traveling. When you leave the country and are back to the reality at home, you notice more and more differences and start to miss the little things.
Surprisingly, adapting back to life at home was a lot harder for me than getting used to everyday life in France. My culture shock was much more intense returning home by a landslide. When I arrived in France, it was a Sunday and the very next day I went to school and was completely used to the 9 hour time difference. However, upon returning back to the US, it took me well over a week to adjust to Pacific Standard time. I would be exhausted throughout the day and wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning. Maybe I subconsciously knew in the heart of hearts that I really belonged in France.
As for schooling back in the States goes, I feel a lot more comfortable speaking French in my AP French class, and I am sure that my comprehension has definitely improved. Some days in France, my friends and I would only speak French with each other, where I could use the informal “tu” form, which was helpful because I would exclusively use the formal “vous” form at school and at home. At school in America, my exposure to the French language has been whittled down from 24/7 in France to 1 hour a day Monday through Friday. No doubt in my mind that the highlight of my day is going to that class because I love the language so much and my professor is extremely hard-working and enthusiastic. I really hope that in my lifetime, I will be able to visit France again, and maybe even live there. In these 2 weeks I have learned more about myself, and had the chance to experience the unpredictable every single day, which delineates a good adventure.
Autumn Lee is 16 years old and lives in Alameda, California. Her goal during her language program in France is to “improve my French vocabulary and understand in more depth the French culture and people.” Follow Autumn’s adventures in France on her weekly blog post updates.