At the crack of dawn Dec. 20, 2017, I took a final jog around Aix-en-Provence, France. Ten hours later, I slid onto my favorite park bench to watch the sun set. The day symbolized my evolution during the semester, from my dim beginnings to thoughts that flowed more easily in French than in English. Thankfully, my major required me to return to France in January.
With Strasbourg being bigger than Aix, adjusting to urbanism posed more frustrations than engaging in a foreign language. Plus, my helplessness the first day scared me more than it should have.
After getting off at the wrong bus stop, I launched a desperate phone call to the IFE program director who guided me to class. “Aix was never this difficult,” I kept thinking. “Aix was never this cold,” but Aix is not Strasbourg– just like I am not my twin, and we each have our own merits that make comparison impractical.
With that recognition, I started thriving. Instead of lamenting about my mistakes, I focused on new discoveries.
So my internship supervisor laughed at my pronunciation of gestion (management) that resembled “gestation” (gestation, like in English), but I benefited from a linguistics lesson that day.
Likewise, by confusing two alleyways one afternoon, I found my favorite picnic spot along the river.
Eight months in France have awarded me an intellectual bounty. Even though I would like to share this experience with my family, some memories just need to be personal. When I smile at the mention of storks, just know I am musing over les cigognes who fearlessly occupy the Park de l’Orangerie.
Certain pleasures can only be lived and living requires exploration. As one professor often says, “get off the compound.”
Please note: Student Emily Wieder ’19 originally wrote this article for The Etownian‘s weekly ‘Study Abroad Experience’ article. It was originally published on May 3, 2018. The Etownian is Elizabethtown College’s student newspaper. Click here to view the original article.
About the Author – Emily Wieder ’19
Emily is a French major and international studies minor. She studied abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France with CISabroad for the fall 2017 semester and Strasbourg, France with Institute for Field Education (IFE) for the spring 2018 semester. While in Strasbourg, she interned at the collection development department of the National Library at the University of Strasbourg.
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