It’s been a week since I returned to the US. It took some time but I have finally accepted that I left. I still do the occasional check on tickets back to Paris, but its a healthy frequency now.
Although it is nice to have A/C again and ice cubes in my water, I still miss the Paris flair. I miss being able to walk everywhere, the incredible baked goods and the fact that tip and tax are already included in the price. But what I miss the most is hearing French everywhere I go.
Now that I am back home, I find myself in the same struggle I found myself before of being disconnected from French. Unlike with my Spanish background where I can turn to a specific channel and watch Spanish shows or search for whole categories of Spanish music on Spotify, French is harder to find. I am constantly changing my Netflix shows to the French audio or play French podcasts while I am at home, but nothing compares to hard to understand, verlan-using native speakers.
I am so shocked by the lack of quality bread we as Americans have come to accept. Even the Publix baguettes I used to fawn over have become subpar.
However, it’s not all sadness and nostalgia. I have come back home with 10 new great friends from my UF in Paris program, a greater appreciation for quality cheese and act of just sitting and talking to people for hours. I have also really enjoyed sharing what I learned with family and friends. Like how to properly eat cheese or make them the recipes I learned while abroad.
I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to place myself completely out of my comfort zone. I learned to be okay with not knowing everything as long as I made an effort to learn a little each day. I also feel like my French has improved so much more than in any class. I feel more connected to the language and culture, because I was able to experience it first hand rather than just reading the culture section of my textbook.
To anyone learning a new language I greatly suggest you take the opportunity to immerse yourself in the language because it is so much more than vocab and verb conjugations, it’s traditions and culture that help you learn the actual language.