Première Jour D’Orientation

While today was technically the first day of orientation (we all had to go to Reid Hall, and sit in a room and listen to all sorts of stuff), formal class-taking orientation starts Monday. Today was all about signing up for bank accounts, phones, getting metro cards, and the like.

By far the most interesting thing about today is that we met and moved in with our host families. That’s right, I’m currently writing this to you from my home for the next 9 months. So far they seem lovely and kind. I had a little downtime before dinner so I began unpacking and that was my first wtf moment since I’ve gotten here. What have I gotten myself into? I’m living in another country, in some random people’s house, trying to learn a language that doesn’t relate to my field of study, and I’m afraid I’m only doing it because I wanted to visit, not because I wanted to live here. I’m hoping it passes. Otherwise it’s going to be really hard to justify to myself why I gave up a year with the best department at Smith to galavant around Europe.

Song of the Day: Tous Les Mêmes by Stromae

3 thoughts on “Première Jour D’Orientation

  1. I didn’t have a year abroad, but found that living in Germany for 20 months in my early 20s changed my perspective of myself and my place in the world. I began to understand what it was like to be a foreigner living in someone else’s country. I learned that other people had different upbringings than I did. I learned to appreciate how “fortunate”[?] I was to have been born in the US to my parents and how privileged that made me. I learned that I enjoyed traveling to different countries and experiencing different cultures.

    That said, I disliked being in Germany, so far from my parents and family. I missed many comforting things I was used to having at my fingertips, especially certain foods. I wasn’t a letter writer and phone calls home were too expensive. Email, Facebook and blogs didn’t exist. When I thought about it, I was lonely and wanted to go home.

    When I got up and left my apartment, there were so many new and different places to go, people to meet, and things to do, that I stopped missing home, except for wanting to tell everyone what I was doing, seeing, and learning. I learned that it was OK to miss home. Even today, I miss the safety that was home, when I was growing up.

    Now I think about when I can travel next and experience new environments and people, while truly appreciating the comfort and peace of my own place in the world.

    Anything new and different I do makes me question whether I made the right choice to take the action I did. As long as I learn something and have experiences I couldn’t have had by staying in the place I was, means I made a good choice.

    Didn’t you have similar feelings about your decision to go away to college when you first got to Smith? It is all part of being a grownup; jumping and knowing the net will appear!

    Hang in there!

  2. Mairead, how can you NOT have those thoughts and feelings? I think it’s a very normal part of the habituation process.

  3. After I read your blog, I was brought back to me packing up all my earthly possessions (which were REALLY few; the moving crew that arrived at Nana and Opa’s asked , “Is this it?!” when they saw a few boxes and a bicycle!) and moving to Germany. Before I arrived I had LOTS of things to do to get ready for the move as it happened within a few weeks of me getting back from 2 weeks touring Japan with Aunt Siobhan. I know it’s surprising but I had a list of social musts before I left CT!

    I checked into the Bachelor Officer Quarters, my home for the next couple of months. A few days after was Labor Day Weekend. I didn’t know a soul and knew I was missing a friend’s wedding- with some of my closest friends. That sucked. I cried. I wondered what I had done even though I knew it was an INCREDIBLE opportunity- much like your 9 months in Paris.

    I’ve done a lot in life but I can easily say being in Europe for those 4 years was one of the BEST years of my life. You make friends, you feel more comfortable in your surroundings and you get to EXPERIENCE life in France.

    When I read your blog from the day before, I grinned from ear-to-ear knowing you had just done one of the hardest things. You’d left home, you ‘d made the ascent and descent of TWO flights, you’d already successfully talked your way IN FRENCH to get orientated, and you were able to appreciate the different culture commenting on beer for breakfast! YOU ARE AMAZING!!

    You were apprehensive and nervous before going to Smith. Now you’re claiming to be in “the best department at Smith”. I’m willing to bet you’ll make similar claims this time next year!

    I’m SOOOOO happy- yes, and jealous!- of what you have ahead of you. Know the beginning can be rough but also know that you will have awesome memories of this school year once you return to the US. Meanwhile, make the most of each day.

    We’re here to support you. Heck, we may even have to come visit you!
    Love you lots,
    Aunt K

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *