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Reflections on a Year Abroad: The Halfway Point

28 Jan 2015

Seeing as I'm halfway through my year abroad in France (ahhhhhhhhhhh), I thought I'd reflect back on my experience so far, the ups and the downs, the highs and the lows, the things I've learnt to embrace and the things that I will never learn to embrace about the bizarre but wonderful country. I'm probably introducing this as some kind of a midterm evaluation essay which I'd be forced to write for my University and then never hear any feedback on (not bitter, I swear!), but I figured most of my points are also applicable to life in general and not just a year abroad.

1. Fear of embarrassment doesn't have to defeat you.
You know how there are some lucky, lucky people who really don't give a damn what anyone else thinks? Who seem to have no anxieties or fears whatsoever? Well I don't think that will ever be me. However, being in a country where language mistakes are completely unavoidable is gradually making me realise that you know what, errors are okay, mistakes are okay, and the only one that really cares whether I look stupid or not is me.

2. Practice really does get results.
I am still struggling to fully immerse myself into the language and the culture here, because I know that I can completely be myself in English, but not in French. It gives me this really quiet, shy persona that I hate and the only way I can get rid of that is to force myself to practise and practise. No matter how much hard work it is, it will get results.

3. Even negative situations are an experience.
And what do we do with them? We learn.

4. Appreciate English Higher Education.
Because it sure as hell is 100 times more organised and less stressful than French higher education. 

5. Finding toilets that are quite literally holes in the ground will never be okay.
Yes, they do have holes in the ground at my uni and no, I still haven't come to terms with it nor will I ever.

6. There's too much of the world that I have never seen.
I mean I've barely been to anywhere in Europe, let alone out of Europe! But I do have time on my side...

7. Some things are worth spending a lot of money on.
Like meals out every week, and travel around France. I will never compromise when there's food involved, especially not when it's delicious French cuisine. 

8. Not everyday will be a sunny day.
As in, we all have bad days and good days. Also, I thought it was always sunny and warm in Montpellier... it's really not, but that's okay. 

9. Enjoy having this much spare time.
I think my issue with having lots of spare time is that I just don't know how to use it, so I end up wasting it away and then feeling stressed because all that spare time I thought I had suddenly disappears. To remedy this I am beginning to plan and organise myself a lot more so that I have some kind of a routine.

10. People will come and go & that's just life.
It's been weird coming back for my second semester without half the people I made friends with last term. Realistically, this is something I'm going to have to deal with in other situations in the future and it's time to learn to be content with the memories and embrace the new.

11. Don't choose to be self-pitying, choose to be happy.
Because what does self-pitying actually do? I mean, we all do it sometimes and it really can't be helped, but we also need to recognise what will instantly make us feel down and learn to deal with that or change it.
4 comments on "Reflections on a Year Abroad: The Halfway Point"
  1. Aww what a lovely list. It sounds like you have learnt a lot so far and that is has been a wonderful experience for you. I hope the rest of your year is just as amazing!

    Can't wait to read more about your adventures, xx

  2. What a great post! Enjoy the last half :)

  3. Even though I'm happy you're enjoying yourself, please come back to me in Leeds!!

    Especially loving no.1, 10 & 11 (and well, no5 just made my laugh my head off!)

    Big hugs,

    Rowbo xx

    Auburn Antics

  4. Eeee, toilets as holes in the ground? I'll pass!

    You're totally right about all of these points, especially the one about the mistakes. :)


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