“It’s good, it’s good,” I keep telling my host mother in French. I really don’t know what else to say. Literally; I can’t actually say much else than that. But I’m learning. Not to sound cliché, and I really tried to look for another way to put this, but these last few days have been, dare I say, an “emotional roller coaster”? Oh, so cliche, it almost hurts to write. But it really has been. I had never experienced a culture shock before; yes, San Francisco was weird, and people drive like total maniacs there, but I was nowhere near prepared for Saturday, October 2nd. I can barely describe it in words, but I’d like to say that I shared a similar experience with one other student here who also had never traveled to another country. It involved a lot of staring, a lot of wide-eyed disbelief, and a lot of questioning whether or not this was a good idea to begin with.
It was scary, it was hot, it smelled strange and unusual, there were animals in the street, people speaking strange languages, and did I mention how hot it was? I’ve never been so hot before at nine o’ clock in the morning in my whole life. All humor aside though, I was very very scared. And when we got to the hostel and sat down for breakfast, which consisted of bread, hot water, some powdered milk and coffee, and different kinds of spreads, I could feel everything creeping up on me. While my friends laughed and joked and smiled amongst one another, Josh and I stared at one another, the table, the flies, the city, and one another again. I could feel my face grow hot and my eyes well up with tears. I couldn’t hear anything, I couldn’t speak. And I was once again completely embarrassed and ashamed for showing my fear in front of all my confident and experienced peers. Our team leader saw and patted me on the back, but I needed to go somewhere else. I was completely exhausted because I was far too anxious to sleep on the plane, and after I laid down for a very hot morning nap, I think my roller coaster was leaving the dip in the road and was creeping back up the hill. I was going to be okay.
That night was very hot with all of the power outages, the fans were on and off, the streets were loud and my mosquito net was constantly bothering me. But I survived the night. Among a few other “dips” in the road, which included discovering my apprenticeship and realizing it was not what I expected or wanted, and finding a metal wire in my crepe when I was really enjoying my time at the beach, I am currently very comfortable in my bed at my host family’s house. I’m not very hot tonight; the power doesn’t go out often in my home, so the fan is on steady. And even though the heat can be unbearable, I’d say I’m adjusting really well. I still can’t speak French to save my life, but I got really lucky here. I’m making the most of it, and even on the nights that I get home sick, I remember why I am here and I remember that even when times get tough, I am strong enough to make it, I have plenty of friends to talk to when I’m uncomfortable, and I have my writing.
Thank you Global Citizen Year, I am finding myself every single day.