Monday, March 14, 2011
status report - two months!
today is march 14th. the whole ‘pi day’ thing doesnt really work here, because the date is written 14.3.. but oh well. i have officially been out of the united states for 2 months.. and there are many feelings floating around inside of me.. i feel;
excited. wide-eyed. living in europe is exhilirating. i love the history and beauty that is so apparent everywhere you look.. the buildings (the old ones, obviously, but even the new architecture is beautiful), the landscape that is so different to what i know in the states, but becoming so familiar – even the people have an air of history and meaning about them.
the most exciting part about my time here is the potential travel. i could spend hours and hours and hours planning different weekend getaways, week long trips, or even my two month summer excursion. actually, i HAVE spent hours and hours and hours doing that. the fact that i love (read: LOVE) to plan just makes all these options that much more exciting.. travel-planning is quickly becoming one of my favourite pastimes!
empowered. strong. i am learning that i can indeed live on my own. it’s been tough – and there are certainly times when i falter – but as a whole (and this should come as no surprise), living on my own has made me more responsible and self-sufficient. i have a monthly budget, broken down into weeks, that covers food, travel, and fun. i do my own grocery shopping, and since there is basically no cafeteria, i cook for myself. i have learned to cook! and it is amazing. i know this sounds so basic and lame, but i have never had to cook for myself on a daily basis. i have always loved to cook, but it was a dinner here and there. now i’m accumulating the recipes and the know-how that will be a part of how i feed myself and my future family for the rest of my life. that knowledge is so empowering!
on a completely different (and probably more relevant to my semester abroad) note, my ability to effectively communicate in a language that is not my own every day makes me feel fantastic. until two months ago, the vast majority of my experience with the french language was in a classroom. 8 years of it gave me a great foundation, but there is nothing that can compare to living in france when it comes to learning french. my foreign language brain is constantly alert, picking up new vocabulary or phrases that i would have never learned otherwise. what a blessing to have this opportunity!!
transformed. already! just two months of living abroad has given me an opportunity to come into my own, as a student, friend, girlfriend, family member, linguist, traveler, believer.. my whole self has been stretched and tested, and i can feel myself changing almost every day. it is true that, in order to love others, we must first love ourselves. and we cannot truly know ourselves as individuals if we have never spent time alone. i do not pretend that i am “all alone” here in france.. i have great friends. but being separated from my family and friends and way of life back home has given me more insight into my heart that i could have dreamed.
one specific example comes to mind; amazingly, despite being so far away from my church and in a country famed for its agnosticism, my faith has grown here. i can’t even explain it, really, but i feel so much closer to God, myself, the universe.. everything. it’s like the whole theory of absence making the heart grow fonder is applying itself to my spirituality, except nothing is absent. it’s just distance from normalcy that has given me the motivation and desire to seek God more ardently than before. if nothing else comes from this trip – if i never met any o f my friends, or set foot in a different region or country other than this one, or learned a single word of french – this trip has been more than amazing, just for that reason. even before i left, i knew that i would return as a different person.. changed. transformed.
so, that’s my 2-month report. feelin’ good, feelin’ great! this week has started off well – i only have 5 more weeks of classes (lol) and then i’ll be off on a whirlwind, 3 month excursion of europe before flying home in 4 months. time is passing so quickly.. and there is so much to do! this weekend, i am taking a trip to the western-most point of france – a little town called brest, at the end of a peninsula that sticks out into the atlantic. i’ll tour around the city for a day and then hopefully attend a football match saturday night! super excited.
that’s all for now!