When thinking about doing a year exchange in another country the first images that come to mind are those of crazy times, adventures, discovery. It’s so easily fit into the limiting mold social media gives us of traveling: beautiful landscapes, incredible cities, exotic experiences, but this is only a half truth.
The other side of the coin is that there are also hard times and just extremely regular days, and that’s ok because it’s the challenges of hard times that help you grow, break your bubble, adapt. It’s on a normal day when you connect with people, listen to new ideas and learn to remark these easily unremarkable things, that hold an immense value within them.
So when the repetitiveness of some days, and the plastic expectations, make me fear that I am not really enjoying this amazing opportunity I tell myself: just getting to the point where I could feel days were repetitive was a huge adventure and accomplishment. I had to learn a completely new language – correction: I still am. Even as I stumbled with the language and tried to figure out new social rules, I had to find a way to come through to people, make them like me, create relationships that could turn into friendship. I had to adapt to a new diet, new “parents” with different rules and, maybe even different values from the ones I grew up with.
Now, with a routine settled in and the accomplishment of some of those things I listed, I embrace new ‘friendlier’ but not easier challenges: finding the excitement in the everyday french life, learning and growing intently, seeing beauty where it’s almost invisible, appreciating little moments and little gestures. Basically keeping alive the drooling wonder, capacity of learning and absorption a child has.
Because in the end that’s what I am, a newborn in the french world.