I've learned so many things. I've learned how to sail in Marseille, how to play Petanque like a pro, and how to play ping-pong French-style. I've learned to not make eye-contact on the streets, and that I will receive plenty of strange looks when I wear my neon pink jacket.
I can now plan a trip last minute with a full itinerary, make a budget (and stick to it!), and ensure that the IEFEE's coffee vending machine gives me sugar. I've learned how to read a map and how to live in a world without my cell phone.
I've learned that it's okay to be scared, nervous, and uncomfortable. That it's normal, and that a study abroad experience isn't always easy. Sometimes, getting lost is the best way to understand where you're going because you have to find your own way.
I've learned that there are more important things than partying with other Americans in France, and that I am the sole person responsible for the experiences I choose to have and the memories I make. If I'm not having a good time, it's time to go, because I've learned that time is precious.
I've learned that I don't need a lot to be happy. I want not only to see the world, but to understand it, and make it better somehow, through talking to people and changing minds.
Through studying abroad, I have gained confidence not only in the way I present my self, but in my views, beliefs, and understanding of the world around me, and my ability to challenge and alter these ideas. I've learned that confusion leads to understanding and that understanding leads to wisdom. I will be forever grateful.
Lindsay Bayne is the Spring 2014 CEA MOJO in Aix-en-Provence, France. She is a junior at the University of Pittsburgh.
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