Looking back on less than a year ago, I would’ve never thought that I would be just getting out of class in France (yes, I am going to class!). The application process, as tedious as it may have been, was well worth it. I am sitting here in a city that is beautiful beyond words and I find myself getting lost in the scenery and quaint atmosphere of Normandy. I was worried about that “culture shock” that I was told so much about but it doesn’t seem to have hit me yet and I’ve been here for 3 weeks. I don’t know why that is but it may be because I am constantly surrounded by absolutely beautiful people who are not as different from us as some make the French out to be. Yes, they do things very differently but it’s not at all incomprehensible. Yeah, they like to take long breaks for lunch, but who wouldn’t want to do that? (Especially when you have a pastry shop at every turn of your head) Although it is very frustrating at times when you cannot do things when you would like to, you need to remember that you are in France and there is no rush to do most things. You have time to take a breath in the open-air market, eat a baguette and heck, why don’t you throw some wine in there too.
Putting aside all of the serious stuff (since it is very hard to be too serious for too long here), I have dreamed about studying in France for a countless number of years and I have witnesses of this! The fact that I am actually here puts me at a loss for words. I am able to walk 5 minutes from the front of the campus and I am at the front gates of a castle that overlooks the most stunning church that I have ever seen. Everywhere you turn, you can see a new castle or church or abbey. Definitely something you wouldn’t see in the GTA. It is, without a doubt, a sight for sore eyes. I have yet to become accustomed to all of this, and I don’t think that it will ever happen. Even after everyone is sick of seeing very similar pictures of the same building taken at only slightly different angles a hundred times over…I’m sorry, but they are still going to get posted and those photos will never do this city or country justice. There is still so much to see that I might go into sensory overload trying to take everything in during the short school year that I am here in Caen.
Do I miss home? Of course I do. I miss my family and my friends and my school but I have a new home for now and I am taking full advantage of what it has to offer my academics as well as my growth as a person. I have been pushed off of the plank into a foreign culture with only so much as a brief knowledge of the language and one suitcase of clothes. Although it is a challenge, this experience will always be well worth the effort that I have put into it.