Beyond the Beauty

Living in France has been one of the most amazing experiences I ever could have dreamed of. The land is gorgeous, the food is delicious, the culture is lively, I’ve seen so much and made so many memories here that could last for eight lifetimes. Before I came to France, “honeymoon phase” was a phrase I heard very often from my study abroad peers and advisors. The same meaning that applies to the honeymoon phase in relationships applies to living abroad as well, meaning, after some time the initial glitz and glamour or that “new car smell” starts to fade away and reality sinks in. Living here for five months has given me a lot of time to think about this.

Upon arrival, everywhere I turned seemed to be more beautiful than the last.

Like,

Come on.

It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the sometimes overwhelming feeling of “new”, and it’s okay to, in my opinion, you should. It’s like that feeling when you begin a new relationship and you’re ready to say “I love you” after 2 weeks together, it isn’t true love but it sure feels like it. The important part about this stage is you’re allowing yourself to fall in love, you don’t have any inhibitions, you just let things happen. Living somewhere new should be the same thing, let yourself fall in love with the scenery, the people, the food, the culture, take it all in.

Once the “shiny, new feeling” wears away, you start to see everything as it truly is. You start to appreciate the small things that the city has to offer, those are the things that become truly beautiful to you. For me, in Lyon, it’s the small boulangerie that’s on the corner down the street from me that bakes my favorite bread in all of France, or the way the fencing seems to (unintentionally) match the vines,…

… or the way a completely raw photo can still take your breath away.

Once you discover what’s underneath the face value, and understand how near and dear that is and how closely you hold that to your heart, that’s when you know it’s love.

This idea tends to have a negative connotation, but sometimes the smell that comes after the new car smell can be a very beautiful thing, it starts to smell like home.

Memories

When I first came to France I thought my time here would never run out, it’s crazy to think that not too long from now I’ll be back in the US living through this unbelievable experience only in my memory.

Something that I really feel strongly about is investing in something that is going to remind you of the amazing memories you’ve made on this journey. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive, but it should be something that’s personal to you. Before coming here my dad gave me a personalized journal for Christmas and all he asked was that I fill it full of memories. I decided to buy postcards and little mementos from each location I go to and paste it in the journal.

Another awesome idea I heard is from fellow correspondent Meaghan Gallagher, she is going to make her own jean jacket and cover it in patches from every city she visits and sew it on the jacket. It’s her own unique jacket and no one will ever have the same exact one, it’s her own cool souvenir.

(Photo: thecityslickerblog)

Whether you want to buy a cookbook from everywhere you go or fill a bottle with dirt, it’s up to you, but it’s so important to do something. You will never regret it.

Day to Day

Taking on the title of “Global Ambassador” while abroad has been an awesome experience, I get to document my study abroad experiences and share them with all of you. While a large part of study abroad is traveling, hence the “abroad” piece, you can’t forget about the “study” piece of it as well (unfortunately).

In Lyon, I am enrolled at L’université Lumière-Lyon-II where I have been studying french (sounds quite posh, no?).
 (Photo: Ellen Wallinger)

Here I have been studying intensive (seriously) french and getting a true sense of the French university system. There are some major differences between french public universities and american public universities, for example: in the US, you technically only take on average 5 classes that meet 2x per week, which results in about 10 periods of class time per week. In France, you take on average 10 classes, but those classes only meet 1x per week so it comes out to about the same amount of meeting times. Another major difference is the length of the class time, classes in USA are on average 60 minutes long, in France, they are on average about 105 minutes long. It seems long but classes tend to go by quite fast, professors here really utilize that time the best way they can. Classes are very interactive and require a lot of input from students, I enjoy them very much and they do not feel like they are 105 minutes long.

This university is a popular one for study abroad students across the globe, I have met many other international students here. I have class and have made friends with students from Colombia, Vietnam, Albania, South Korea, Zimbabwe, etc.

The awesome thing about this university is there is a true sense of community here, I have met some of the friendliest people at school and have made real lasting connections.

Even though the studying part isn’t always the best, USAC’s program in Lyon has really made it such an enjoyable experience. UL2 is a beautiful school in the heart of Lyon, the students and staff are all super friendly, the classes are interesting and you learn so much french. Getting up and going to school everyday has become a part of my day I truly enjoy.