“J’ai accompli de délicieux voyages embarqué sur un mot.”
“Just a single word has launched for me many wonderful adventures.” – Honoré de Balzac
I have been away from home and on my own many times before this trip to France but all those experiences did not prepare me for what I was embarking on. Living in a foreign country where I did not fluently speak the language was not the same as being away at college. I had to get to know and trust myself.
When we got off the train that first Friday afternoon, I immediately became immersed in the French culture and language. I did not expect that my host mom would not speak any English and that there would be nobody around that did. I quickly realized that I was on my own and I needed to rely on myself to communicate in order function and to live with my host mom. The first few meals were very quiet, but gradually we began to get more comfortable with each other and she began to talk more. I was initially embarrassed by my slow response time as I took time to translate words in my head, but I quickly became comfortable with myself and my host mom was patient while I took my time and translated words in order to communicate. I became more confident in myself as I saw my host mom’s responsiveness to my efforts.
I noticed that as my self confidence grew I began feeling more comfortable in my surroundings and was actually enjoying my time in La Rochelle, but I still had to get around town. I used to feel that I was not very strong at following directions but because I had to rely on myself to get to and from school I realized I was not as bad at following directions as I thought I was. When packing for France I almost did not pack my running shoes because I did not feel confident in my ability to go for a run and find my way home. I am glad I ended up bringing my shoes because I saw some gorgeous sites I would not have seen otherwise. From this experience I learned that I can do things on my own I did not expect I could do.
As my time in France came to an end I was impressed with myself for successfully being able to find my way around town on my own, order meals for myself, develop a relationship with my non-English speaking host mom, and try new things! It is amazing to see how far I came from the shy girl who was scared to try and speak French due to fear of making a mistake to a confident student who was now willingly speak to others and try anything! I have learned the true meaning of relying on one’s self.
– Monica Ware ’11