Authored by:
Suzanna S.

I have not posted in awhile, but then again, not a lot has changed. The big shift is over; I’m already here. After such a huge change, I expected to notice the steps that I took - but really, they blend into daily life here. Figuring out words and catching conversation are norms for me now. I’m still a sort of listener, but I’ll definitely have something to say every now and then and people no longer stare me down when I speak, as if their uncomfortably intense gaze would help them understand me better. Each day is packed with words, many of them resolved by me sheepishly pulling out my dictionary. Now, though, instead of looking up words like spoon or test, I’m searching for words like hair dye and freckles. It’s not huge; it’s still using a dictionary and it will always be tedious, but it’s an important little growth to bigger, less common words that one doesn’t use every day.

I’ve gotten to a point where I can’t quite remember what my life was like before this, probably due to my bad memory, but also because this year has impacted me so dramatically. I can’t say all of that impact has been positive, but I believe that it will be good for me in the long run. Now, it seems hard, but in retrospect I will see that not having a shoulder to cry on taught me independence and made me stronger. I can tell that now I have thicker skin, and I will be the better for it even if I means I have to hit a few bumps along the road.

My best friend, Alice, has been the ultimate constant in my life here. She speaks both French and English, and has lived here her whole life. She helps me correct my writing, describes things to me in French, and switches languages if I don’t understand her or someone else. She is an invaluable friend to me; Alice is an enormous part of my life in France. I owe her almost my entire French vocabulary, the grand majority of my laughs and all of my support. I am so lucky and grateful to have found someone just as crazy as me to help me along. Even she can laugh along when silly teenage girls put on overwhelming amounts of perfume and then expect us to kiss their cheeks! Teenagers are really the same in every country, always judgemental and self-obsessed. Not Alice, though.

My whole world was spun around and I was whirled into another country - but I’ve finally righted myself. Now that I'm finally on steady ground, I can build up my life here fully. I’m ready and excited to complete the other half of my exchange with a confident smile and a translation dictionary in my hand.

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