Sweater, Target | Shorts, Zaful | Boots, Old Navy | Necklace, Walmart (we're talking haute couture here)
To the exasperated lady with a killer glare, who waited behind me at the produce scale as I obliviously deliberated over my groceries--
To the woman who nearly throttled me after we collided in the chaotic lap pool--
I'm legitimately sorry if I inadvertently inconvenienced you, but I'm not sorry for my adjustment to this foreign way of life.
To the cell phone salesmen who told me one thing, sold me another, and then declared I must've misunderstood our conversation when I returned to seek what I thought I bought--
I know the difference between 500 mb and 2 gb, thank you, even if my French is far from perfect.
To the little boy next to me on the tram, who not-so-surreptitiously declared to his mother that he didn't like the "madame" sitting by him--
To the professor who automatically assumed I was from China--
To the girl who spoke to me in Chinese before I ever uttered a word--
I'm not sorry for looking different. I'm from the United States. I can speak French.
There's much more to story than what meets the eye--beyond my language goals for study abroad, I hope I become more patient when people seem clueless (maybe they're still learning!) and I hope gather deeper insight about others before treating them a specific way.
And of course:
To the woman who stopped me in the middle of the street when my wallet fell out of my backpack--
To the countless people who gave me patient directions before I had phone service--
To the classmates who carefully explained the academic system and class norms--
To my host family for enduring my daily dying-cat-noise violin practice, and for accomodating my strange dietary preferences exceptionally well--
To the natives who have shown me around the city, praticed French with me, and shared their culture--
And to the people who have told me my French is good--
Y'all are liars, that's what.
Okay, maybe that's a little harsh--more like very, very nice. It's funny; before I came to France, I always I thought I was fluent--I even put it on my resume. After 8 years of studying French, reading unabridged French classics, writing 5-10 page French papers, and carrying conversation decently, I was convinced I could call myself fluent.
Here, it's different--there are so many everyday phrases I never encountered in my sheltered life of academic French. And conversation is really a completely different field with natives than with other American students. And lectures? Ha.
But I'm learning, and that's what's important.
As of this weekend, I'll have been here for 4 weeks. It's mind-boggling that almost 1/4 of my time here has already disappeared--especially since several of my classes just started. Unlike in the U.S., I find myself counting how much time has passed since I arrived, rather than how much time is left in the semester. Life is definitely no easier here--I actually consider it more complicated--so perhaps it's a sign I'm learning to just be, rather than forever flailing for the rose-tinted future.
Study abroad was emotionally draining before I even arrived--before I even accepted my spot--before I even applied. I was always afraid of drastically altering my life for the worse. I had to let go of a lot to be here, but I gained a whole other world.
I'm learning, and I'm grateful.