Sunday, 4 December 2016

Things no one talks about | Blogmas Day 4

Contrary to what I choose to display on my Instagram, settling into a new life abroad is not easy.

Overall, my experience of moving to France has been smooth and I consider myself very lucky. Not only have I had this opportunity to move to a country that I love, but not much has logistically gone wrong along the way. Some of my friends in Lille and around France have had some horrible issues.

If anyone reading this is considering a move abroad, either through the CIEP program to teach English, for an ERASMUS year or for any other reason, please know that it is one of the most difficult things you could ever do. It might feel sometimes like everyone around you is settling into life perfectly, but this isn't the case. What people choose to convey on social media isn't reality - this is another issue that I could probably write a full dissertation on so I'll save that for another day.

Overall, what I'm posting online and telling my friends is entirely true. I'm having a cracking time in France and I love showing everyone what a fantastic time I'm having. However, things aren't always perfect and it's necessary to share these things, no matter how minor, so that other people in our situations can see that they aren't abnormal for finding things a bit tough. So here we go,

Things that are a bit tricky sometimes:

- Sometimes, I miss home. I'm very fortunate that homesickness doesn't hit me too often and when it does, it tends to go away rather quickly. It is most commonly caused by things happening at home that I'm not there to be a part of. As I said, I'm lucky that these feelings don't last for very long but I've learned to accept that sometimes, I will be homesick. And that's perfectly normal. That's what friends (and dog cafes) are for.
- Anyone who studies a language will know that, sometimes, there are off days. On these days, you forget the simplest words and mix up the most basic grammar - generally, you can't speak the language. This is fine at university when your tutorial lasts for an hour and you can come back the next week and do better. When this happens in France, I can't just laugh it off and wait for a tutor to help me out. Instead, I'm greeting with a blank stare from the cashier/colleague/barman whose language I've just butchered. It isn't fun, and it can be embarrassing, especially when surrounded by friends who speak French almost fluently and seem to always be at their peak when you're having a bad language day. Again, it isn't the end of the world but in the moment, it can be such a confidence knock.

- Our little flat is lovely, but when minor things don't work, it can be so irritating. Such as the fan above the oven that broke over a month ago. Or the wifi that randomly disconnects in the middle of every Skype call. Or the heating that Lauren had to fix herself with a pair of pliers we found in the cellar.

- As the quote from Ratatouille states; "Although each of the world's countries would like to dispute this fact, we French know the truth: the best food in the world is made in France". Some of the food here is unbelievable. French cuisine isn't perfect though. Peanut butter doesn't exist here. Neither do baked beans, so a comforting cheesy beano on a winter evening is not an option. The bread here is much sweeter than that at home, so savoury sandwiches are a rather unique experience. As is the butter. I could, again, discuss the food in France for hours.

Little things like this are very minor and I'll repeat that I'm so lucky to have been through this experience, let alone for it to also have been so smooth. Everyone finds things a bit tough, though, and that's okay.

  Check back everyday at 6pm GMT until Christmas for a new Blogmas post!

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