How Language Affects Identity

When I sat back one night before bed and reflected on everything that has happened since I have arrived in La Rochelle, it was crazy to me once I realized how much has changed in such a short period of time. When I first got here, even the thought of meeting and having to talk to my host family made me insanely nervous. Because I knew my French was nothing spectacular, I became this shy person because I did not want my host family to think I was not smart if I did not always say everything completely correct. However, as the days go by I have become more and more comfortable with trying to hold conversations. It certainly is not because my French has made some type of drastic improvement already, but my confidence has.

Being pulled out of my comfort zone and thrown into a life practically full of awkward moments is enough to freak anyone out, and it definitely did me. Through this, though, I learned that while language is a main form of expression, and it is definitely hard to express yourself when what you have been speaking forever is taken away from you, it is not everything. By putting my pride aside from time to time and not being afraid to be wrong sometimes, I could show my host family a part of me that they did not know when I first got here: I am a hard worker and I am trying my best; I will not give up.

For me, this trip was more than just a different way to earn credits for classes by studying in a foreign country. It was also to push myself and help me grow as a person. Going to a place thousands of miles away with no one I knew was something I never in a million years thought I would be able to handle. It was being pulled away from everything I am used to, and even having my “voice taken away” in a sense, that helped me learn more about myself and that I really am capable of more than I gave myself credit for before.

-Brittany Dixon ’13

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