Damon H. - Paris, France - Fall 2013
Bonjour from Paris!
I am writing this blog post to you from one of the most cliché (a word we stole from the French, mind you) places in Paris: the banks of the Seine. I am quietly enjoying my Sunday afternoon doing homework, people watching, and chomping away at a smoked salmon and cheese sandwich. I felt like this would be the perfect setting to write you all because it is one of the things that has caused me the most mental struggle whilst studying abroad. You have to balance the struggle of being a tourist and doing your best to see all the sights, all the while working really hard to be a local and live as they do. It’s a balance that has really eaten at me some days.
I don’t have an answer as to how to best attack this situation, but I hope to have an answer for you by time I get back on the plane. At this point, I’m attempting to look at it like I’m getting the opportunity to experience the best of both worlds, albeit both worlds aren’t always the best…but they are both wonderful in their own way. I have done my very best to enjoy the experiences of each day here in Paris, whether they be extraordinary monuments, experiencing the city, traveling to the beaches of Normandy, and touring Versailles, or if they are experiencing the truth and culture of everyday life in Paris, including conversations with my host family and of course all the wonderful meals. For this reason, you have to learn to be an optimist, so get started now people.
I waited to write this blog as long as possible so that I could write it after I hit the legitimate bottom of the culture shock roller coaster. I didn’t want to feed you all the lines about study abroad being the most wonderful experience of my life because every day was beautiful and awesome and full of positivity. I wanted to write this when I understood that study abroad is a time in your life, a real time in your life, REAL LIFE. There will be good days, okay days, and very rarely, some rough days. But that’s what makes study abroad worth it; that’s what makes it an enjoyable learning experience that you are able to say with confidence was a wonderful life changing experience and most likely the best choice you’ve made to date. Don’t be scared to study abroad because it might have some difficulties, study abroad because the best days will be much better than the good days you have at home on campus at Elmhurst. I promise.
And in closing, don’t forget to look forward to the exciting things, because so many of them are in store. Like right now, I’m dreaming about my trip next weekend to Nice in the south of France on the Mediterranean. A weekend getaway on some beautiful beaches… beats laying in your dorm room watching Netflix all weekend with the occasional “getaway” to the Roost.
Visualize what’s in store for you!
P.S. Feel free to ask me some legitimate logistical questions you have in the comments below….