I’ve barely been home for a week, and I already miss France. I miss the food, I miss the atmosphere, I miss hearing the sound of French spoken all around me. It’s a weird thing, culture shock. I hardly experienced it at all going to France – maybe because I’d already been there before, or maybe because I already spoke the language so I could largely understand what was going on around me.
But coming back to the U.S. was a lot more of a challenge for me. We landed in Chicago and walking through the airport, hearing people speak English was weird for me. It was a surprise, like “Oh, someone else who speaks English!” I also had the urge to speak French to people, going through customs and security. I felt out of place, which was strange because I was in my home country.
I’ve been able to adjust now that I’ve been back for longer, but I still find myself speaking French occasionally. It doesn’t take much to get me back into that mode of thinking – my sister asked me for help with her French homework and I was speaking French for the rest of the night. I’ve also been practicing and perfecting my crêpe-making skills – I ate so many crêpes in France that it became a staple in my diet, and I just can’t give it up that easily. (The picture is my lovely mushroom, egg and cheese crêpe - one of my favorites!)
Overall though, it was an amazing experience, and one that I’m so glad I was able to be a part of. It was a different way to experience France, and I learned so many different things about the culture, the language and the people. I got to know my fellow students and professors much better and I know I will remember this trip for the rest of my life.
I will leave you with a word of advice readers – travel. It doesn’t matter how (though I am personally predisposed to a study abroad experience). You will learn new things about yourself, about the world and about life. Your experiences will shape you and will stay with you for a long time. So get out and explore the world! I promise, it’s worth it.
- Caitlin Fellows
Caitlin is a sophomore political economy major from Salt Lake City.