Adventure Awaits! A Writer's Reasoning for Living Abroad
Updated: Aug 14, 2022
Hello Readers! Man it's been a long time since writing that line! It has definitely been a long home coming for the takeaways blog, but nevertheless I am back on the blogging sphere once more. First, we can start with the basics: where have I been all year? Well to start, I was completing my second year at college, this time thankfully with lesser Corona cautions and more football games to match. Yet, the biggest venture in my eyes was revamping this blogs instagram. I started creating origional poems with black and white illustrations and I take pride in its ability to double as a Shel Silverstein's fan page if I so chose. That offhand project turned into my passion project for the year which kept me sane, and creative, and still continues to inspire me. Even so, why no blog posts for so long you might be asking yourselves. And, if I'm being honest I am asking myself the same thing. Rereading some of my old posts, I am transported back to the excitement behind each moment. There's an unmistakably youthful optimism underlying sincere revelations of living, and I'm taken aback that I've ignored this outlet of mine for so long. And so, I am back to the grind-hopefully for a bit.
So readers, I figured the best comeback blog is a letter on why I decided to go abroad this summer, since I will be leaving in t-minus 4 days. In February I was lucky enough to be selected for a study abroad program which entails living in Besançon, France for all of June and July. Set along the easternmost border of France and known as the greenest city in France, Besançon is a fascinating place with thousands of years of historic and cultural gems. Origionally suggested by my roomate who is a fellow French fanatic, I knew immediately once I applied that this was the opportunity for me to finally realize my dreams of living in France.
Seemingly since birth, France and it's culture have always been intertwined into my life. Right before I was born, my mother was sent to Paris for a year for her job which meant continual traveling for my dad and infant brother to go meet up with her. And, to me, after that year it was very apparent that everyone in the family had some sort of the "french experience" except me. We had photos on the wall, trinkets in the living room, and an entire "French room" sitting area that was inspired by antique French aesthetics. And yet, even with this obvious cultural obbession there was not a lick of French dialect to match (that is subtracting the many failed Rosetta stone attempts made on the way to dance class.) And so, at some point it became a personal mission of mine that if I couldn't go to France I would at least be the one to speak it.
I first started learning the language formally at my first opportunity in 7th grade, when we could finally break away from the standard Spanish I had been taught since elementary. I was excited to break into the language of lovers, even if learning any langauge after the age of 13 is an uphill climb. I continued on for 6 more years gradually getting better and even though I was never the best student in class it was a skill I stubbornly refused to part with. Now in college, I've adopted a French minor and I can confidently say that this is the first time I've been so actively challenged within the language. I must write papers, talk with natives, and comprehend passages that only 2 years ago would have seemed impossible. Though, as I progress I've started to find that learning a language seperated from its cultural context and my own real life makes each gain minimal. It's this honest frustration at my own progress that's strengthened my resolve to go abroad and live immersed within the language. And luckily for my own sake I now have this opportunity to do just that.
It would have been so easy to stay at home this summer too.
I could have stayed comfortably with my adoring mom and puppy, had fun with my friends since grade school, and retaken my manager keys for a resume line, but somehow I never seem to let myself take the easy way out. I'd be lying if I said that I'm jumping forth on this journey without any hesitations or fears, because I'm actually full of them. I will be traveling by myself for the first time ever, internationally and in Covid's afterglow, while living in a native strangers home, in a land that is completely foreign to all my senses. Even if I talk a big talk, I'm scared shitless. But, scared as I am, I am not ruled by my hesitations, I am ruled by my purpose. I could stay with big dreams and little action, but in the end I know that won't get me very far. I am a firm believer that one must act differently in the short-term to be different in the long-term, and this trip is far more of a personal test of that belief than simply a vocabulary expansion. I know that regardless of how good my French gets, or what friends I'm able to make I will come back in August knowing that I was this scared and I still did it. I hope that by pushing myself so far out of my comfort zone I will finally see how beneficial fear actually is. For when fear is present that just means that an opportunity for growth is also present. Happiness to me shouldn't equate to pleasurable experiences all of the time, even if that's what the general media wants us to think, and if I really think about it I think my greatest happiness has come right after my greatest discomforts.
Now, I don't know how much I'll get to blog this summer, but I will surely come back to let you know if my hypothesis was correct. Nevertheless I am glad to have dusted off the old takeaways platform and share a bit of what's on my mind before this big trip, something in me knows that even after a year this post was exactly what I needed. What fears can you benefit from? Let me know in the comments :)