Misconception: study abroad consists only of adventures abroad and consists of very little studying.
As I pass the half way point of my program I am amazed by how much content my classes have covered. In my grammar lass I’m have learned more rules and minutia of French grammar than I could ever list about English grammar, and in my art history class we have already gone through over 200 years of art and a dozen artists. Truly, I was not expecting to be challenged academically while abroad, and while it can feel tedious to do homework when I’d much rather be exploring Nantes I am impressed by mine and all the student’s ability to handle such a heavy work load alongside such intense cultural immersion. For example, every week in my grammar class we have a full-scale project. Last week’s project was a PowerPoint, a 5-minute video, and a 3-page paper (all in French of course). Plus, we had a cultural excursion, went to the beach, explored Nantes, and spent time with our host families. I feel like the energizer bunny that never stops, but honestly, I don’t want to slow down. Every experience is better than the last and I’ve found that wanting to find time for other things has made me a more efficient student. Writing a 3-page paper in French use to intimidate me and probably take me over a week by breaking it up into little chunks, but now I’m able to sit down and confidently complete these intensive assignments in a matter of hours. I believe this program is showing me just how far I can push myself academically and personally. Additionally, I believe I am developing important skills that I will use for the rest of my life both personally and professionally. For example, a lot of mundane things become exponentially more difficult when a language barrier exists. Going to the grocery store or asking my teacher to repeat an explanation are suddenly stressful experiences, but I have learned how to be more confident in myself and to no longer be afraid of making mistakes. I know my French is nowhere near perfect, but with a little effort and patience I can almost always get my point across even if I make some mistakes along the way. In France I am learning how to fail and get back up again, how to make a fool of myself and laugh it off, and how to improvise (and sometimes play charades) when need be.