|My new roommate, Corbin|
During the first day of orientation, we got a ton of helpful advice from our program directors Kristin and Silvija. One thing stuck with me in particular—for every small victory, it is important to reward yourself. Granted, my roommate and I may have taken this advice a bit too seriously, but it got us through the initial transition with big smiles. Here are my top victories:
- Getting a phone plan. I actually had an international plan on my phone, but because I was the most fluent in French of my group, I decided to help three of my friends. I have to admit that at home, my dad takes care of my phone plan so it is a bit of a foreign topic to me. Add the language barrier, and we were in for an hour of confusion.
However, we walked out of the store carrying three new sim cards and an admiration for the pronunciation of ‘gigabytes’ (pronounced jijabites) in French.
2. Being mistaken as a local. As someone who grew up around the French language, I have a pretty good accent. That being said, it takes much more than fluency to pass as a native. It takes an understanding of the way one dresses, the way one puts their card into the machine (via chip), the way that one greets the cashier, and so many other little things.
My first time being mistaken as a local, I was buying an umbrella from the market. I made small talk about the rainy day and about needing to catch the bus. In the end, I left the stand with a big smile and a dark blue polka dot umbrella.
|View of Monaco|
3. Making it home from Monaco. The trip to Monaco went by with utmost facility, being a one hour direct train ride. The way home, however, proved to be a much harder task. Somewhere between the time I spent ice skating by the yachts and watching the circus by the prince’s palace, a gas leak had caused delays and cancellations in both the train and bus lines.
I took the train about half of the way home, to Nice, where I assumed that I could easily take a bus home. Upon arrival, both the information desk in the station and the tourism center told us that the best method home would still be by train, and that we just needed to wait an hour. Long story short, the next train available ended up being four hours later.
During this span of time, my roommate and I had even located a hotel with availability for fear of not making it home. We were lucky when we finally caught a train out that night. We rewarded ourselves in the morning with pastries from my new favorite bakery.
In the end, rewarding myself for small victories has allowed me to appreciate that moving to a foreign country is not an overnight process, but something that takes time and effort. It is a difficult but deeply satisfying process.
Laura Bastings is the Spring 2016 CEA MOJO Blogger in The French Riviera, France. She is currently a sophomore at Towson University.
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