Monday, March 31, 2008

Kari G. - St. Etienne, France - Spring 2008

Hey everyone. I figured it was about time I posted on here since I've been here long enough to change my mind! I will not sugarcoat anything, either; this is basically how I felt when I arrived and how I feel now. When I first arrived here in France I was in a sort of daze. I did not prepare myself to leave. I do not really know how you would do that anyway. It didn't seem real that I was leaving until the morning of when I had to tell my family and my boyfriend goodbye. I got here and it was an absolute mess. When I arrived at my residence hall there was no one here to accept me because it was lunch time and NO ONE works during lunch in France. Stores close and everything. SO I was waiting a very nice French girl stopped and helped me. Only problem was she spoke NO English. It was very discouraging but the two of us managed and she was incredibly nice and helped me move in and everything and get a room when the many finally showed up. Needless to say, things were a little rough when I arrived. For the first few days, I was a mess. I did not like it here and I wanted to leave. I was very homesick and did not want to do anything for the first week. However, after that first week, and after I started class and met people, I really liked it here. I just needed to give myself a little time to adjust. I was really really considering leaving, too. I did not really meet anyone for the first two days, and my room is small so it was quite depressing. HOWEVER, now, I love it here. I love all my new friends and I love the town I am in. It's not the prettiest town in France but I like it here a lot. I just needed to give myself time to adjust and meet people. I needed to get a schedule going. I definitely did not expect to be homesick at all or feel like I did upon arrival, but I did. It is not like going away to college for the first time, which I had NO problem with at all. I love France, though, now and all the new things I'm experiencing; I just needed to give it a little time!

SO there you go and yes Alice, I HATED it here when I arrived :( It is very unorganized here, which I hate, but I am doing really well now :)


Blogger Jessica C said...

You are welcome to send me photos to post on your blog!
-Jessica Chavez (

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Maureen said...

Your trip sounded hectic. I am glad that you have got settled and eveything. I don't know if you knew but I am going to be studying abroad in England in the Fall. Do you have time to do a lot of traveling or are the classes hard and time consuming?
I hope you have having fun!

4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! I am Alex, freshman @ EC. I guess it's something about Europe that at first u hate it and then u don't want to leave...:P I want to go to Italy next fall for a whole year. Is it hard to cope with classes because everyone else is basically speaking a different language? Do you have time for yourself?

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Kari said...

MO! I'm so excited that you commented! AND that you are wanting to study abroad! Yes my trip was definitely hectic :( haha But I made it and it doesn't seem quite as bad now. SO as for your question, NO my classes are not that hard. I mean things are different for me though because I am taking foreign language classes. I could not tell you for sure about in England but as far as I here, I have class everyday for three hours in the morning. I also take two other classes taht add up to 3.5 more hours. BUT I do not receive a lot of homework. I still get it but I have plenty of time to travel. I do now know if you've been looking...I'm guessing no! But I have already been to Ireland, London, Paris and all over france and I leave in a little over a week for Paris and Rome. I def. have plent of time for travel. There's always breaks and holidays or free days where you dont have much so you can go a town over or whatever else. You would def. have plenty of travel time!

1:47 PM  
Anonymous Kari said...

Hey Alex. I dont know if it is europe or just culture shock. It's definitely harder to deal with when you dont understand what everyone is saying as well. When you go to a non english speaking country you not only have to deal with another language but a completely different culture. However, it only takes a short time and things settle and you start to enjoy it. I don't think its hard to cope with classes at all. Granted, I am in a really amazing program but I dont think its too bad. I dont have any friends here struggling at all. It is def. hard though at first because you want to understand what people are saying but it just takes time. I dont really know when it started to click but slowly day by day im understanding more and getting better at getting along. I have plenty of me time too. More me time then I did at Elmhurst because I get less homework and just dont have some of the things to do here that I did in Elmhurst. But I do love speaking another language. I'm not sure if you speak Italian or not but I have met four italian girls here who are amazing and if you wanted someone to speak in Italian with or just ask questions I could get there e-mails to you and three of them have facebook as well. Hope that helps

1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Kari,
I'm preparing for my first study abroad program and I want to ask you about your "cultural shock." How did you handle it?

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Kari said...

I definitely had culture shock when I got here. It hit me big time. It me basically as soon as I got here. I had to start speaking in french right away. I had to get from an airport in another town to my dorm but a bus into the train station, a train to my town and a cab to my dorm where there was no one waiting for me. I met an incredibly nice girl who helped me though. I struggled a while though with adjusting to speakin in a a foreign language. I felt really stupid at first speakin with people but eventually and with time it just got easier and meeting people always helps. Once I got a routine going with classes and everything things improved. I definitely think of all the other americans I felt the culture shock the most though. I think part of it was I didn't prepare myself enough. BUT with time it goes away and gets easier and the more I relaxed. I dont know I hope that helps!

2:10 PM  

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