Before college, I never considered studying abroad as being a possibility. Getting my parents to allow me to attend school in California was already a big stretch and I didn’t want to push the envelope. I was going to be flying back and forth across the country and would be attending a private school. :,) Not to mention I needed all new clothes because all I ever wore in high school were uniforms, pajamas, and sweats. [Insert flying stack of money emoji here]
Lucky for me, I have parents with hearts big enough and minds open enough to let me follow my dreams. When we attended my freshman orientation together, we learned about the semester abroad opportunity in Cannes that offered an internship at the Film Festival.
They immediately encouraged me to apply.
Fast forward to a year and a half later and I’m accepted to study abroad through AIFS in Cannes, France! I’m packing my bags, purchasing cold weather clothes online (cuz this Floridian only ever wears shorts. And counting the days ’till I fly out of MIA to a time zone far beyond anything I’ve ever experienced before.
I am extremely grateful for my time spent abroad. I’ve grown so much. Learned so much. Met so many people. And eaten such amazing foods (um, hello. def one of the major highlights).
See my more in depth explanation on the following below:
Learning: I’ve always been bad at two things: languages and math. From 1st to 8th grade I was required to take Spanish class. I learned enough to understand when someone was speaking to me in Spanish pretty well, but by no means could ever communicate back. When the requirement was finished, I was discouraged from taking any more courses than I had to.
Once studying abroad in France became a looming possibility, I went on to take three semesters of French in college.
I got A’s and B’s and could do the accent well (just like in my Spanish class) but believed I would fall to the same fate of understanding someone speaking French to me, but forever doomed to be a mute who could only reply back in English.
LUCKILY, at the International Collège de Cannes (where I lived while studying abroad) each student enrolled was required to take a French intensive language course that was 3 hours a day and 5 days a week.
I was encouraged to speak soooo much in class in order to express my thoughts, ideas, and emotions regarding certain subject matter and ended my semester with the ability to order food, shop, and ask questions in French. I’m still by no means fluent, but def know enough to have a decent conversation and get by which, if you ask me, ain’t too shabby!!! 😉 #proud #of #my #self *claps*
It’s All About Who You Know: And not just at the film festival. 😉 See post on my internship at the 70th Annual Cannes Film Festival here.
Another great thing about staying at an INTERNATIONAL college campus was meeting students from legit alllllll over the world. I made friends from France, Sweden, Germany, Brazil, and Mexico. We shared many laughs, drinks, and experiences together.
And now when I visit their home countries, I have a free place to stay. 😉 #winning
Food Glorious Food: Food is the only way to my heart. Just kidding. But its def one of the biggest. If not the biggest. Well….now I need to think about that….
I stuck to a pescatarian diet while abroad, but still found myself in a richer than rich immersion of culture. Here’s why:
I ate squid ink paella in Spain, a Greek specialty called Giouvetsi that involves orzo and shrimp in Greece, a Venetian specialty of cuttlefish cooked in its own ink served alongside white polenta in Venice, Fish n Chips in London, a fresh cod filet doused in Provençal herbs and plenty of mousse au chocolat, pasta, pizza, and dark chocolate gelato. MMMM.
Between the million miles walked, museums seen, and pictures taken, nothing quite captured the memory of a place more than a delicious meal.
NOT JUST ME, THIS IS A UNIVERSAL FACT.
#FOODIEFORLIFE rt if u feel me.
Growing: Coming into adulthood is tough. When I was 20, I experienced a lot of anxiety, had trouble sleeping, experienced hair loss, high stress, the list goes on and on. Turning 21, I slowly learned how to manage the bad better, but going abroad is what really brought me to a more centered sense of peace.
Since living in France, I’ve traveled to more countries than I have in my entire life, hiked (and enjoyed it), kayaked (and enjoyed it), rode a donkey up the side of a mountain, swam in volcanic hot springs whilst bathing in clay, drank at an ice bar, danced in a 5 story club, saw a prostitute get arrested, and tried SNAILS!!! ***They’re kind fish-like, right?
I found that after living abroad for 2 months, I really started adopting the European culture and since completing my 4 months overseas, have even more so.
As my good friend Caitlin mentioned in her AIFS Blog post, I’ve learned to live life slower. To not worry about getting every little thing done and to just live in the moment. To enjoy myself and the time I was having with my friends.
MILLENIAL NOTE*** I’m forever grateful to my iPhone 5S for breaking down while abroad because it kept me from seeing the world through a tiny screen. I could take snaps to add to my Snapchat story, but couldn’t upload them until I had wifi which kept me from checking how many views it got and if I had any replies constantly throughout the day. Uploading to Instagram was only for during downtime in the hotel or Air bnb. And Facebook was for when I was back on campus uploading pictures from my Sony cam for all my fam back home to see. Which took forever btw. (luv u collège but ur wifi is weak)
In close, I can confidently say that I have become so much more mature, open minded, and relaxed. I am more adventurous and spontaneous. And I understand my place in the world as a global citizen.
I ALSO wrote down everything I ate and plan to modify those dishes to heart-healthy, quick n easy recipes I can share with you on this blog. 🙂
I can even convert kilometers to miles on the treadmill now! (well, somewhat haha ;)).
And although everything mentioned above was absolutely incredible, the most precious was definitely the friends I made through AIFS. I met people from my school I may have otherwise never crossed paths with. I met a girl who knew a girl I went to high school with, I made dance partners, travel buddies, foodie friends, the list goes on and on and on.
Through AIFS, I made some of the best friends in my life, including my international friends. If it weren’t for AIFS, my school, and my parents, none of this would have been possible.
Thank you mom and dad. I owe you, big time. ❤
If you’re on the fence about studying abroad or even in complete denial all together, take a moment to reconsider. There is a way around everything. There are tons of scholarships you can apply for, loans you can take, and risks necessary to living your life to the ABSOLUTE FULLEST. 🙂 ❤ Something I HIGHLY recommend.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see ya in my next post!
P.S. Half Marathon/Marathon season is coming up soon so stay tuned. 😉