After coming to France, I’ve experienced my first few real transportation strikes. I knew that strikes and protests were common in France, but I didn’t picture them interfering with my daily life. So far, we have had 3 public transportation strikes which affect how often the trams and busses run in town. I rely on the trams and busses in town to get around so these strikes can really impact the activities that I have planned for the day. However, strikes are so common and often scheduled in advance here, so people are generally prepared and know how to deal with them. In fact, the plus side of a public transportation strike is that classes are often cancelled or switched to online as it makes it difficult to arrive to campus. Coming from someone who depends on a curated day to day schedule, experiencing my first few strikes have forced me to become for adaptable and relaxed when it comes to changing plans last minute.
Another way that I have had to adapt to my new life here is to change the days and times that I normally run my errands. One of my favorite things about my town, is that it is lively and full of people from Tuesday – Saturday. The aspect of my town that I’ve had to get used to is most businesses being closed on Sunday and Monday. Back home, Sunday and Monday were always dedicated to going grocery shopping and resetting for the next week or two. Now, I normally go grocery shopping on Tuesday and again on Friday because the produce is so fresh that it needs to be used up and replenished more often. I can’t complain about this because the quality of food here is incredible and the availability of local and organic produce is amazing. After I do my groceries at the local market, I stop at my local boulangerie for the best selection of fresh bread and pastries I’ve ever seen. Grocery shopping in France has become one of my favorite parts of my week.
In school, I find it difficult to adjust to the scheduling system. I have had a few instances of classes being cancelled and disappearing from my schedule without an email alert saying if the class was cancelled and why. In general, I feel that the school environment is more relaxed and there is not as much of an emphasis put on assignments as much as group projects and active participation in class. While this does motivate me to be more engaged during class, I do like to have physical assignments so I can keep track of my progress. However, the more relaxed school environment has allowed me to dedicate more time to travelling and exploring Reims.
Besides adjusting to school, it was a big adjustment going from living with 3 other roommates to living in my own studio apartment in a foreign country. This is my first time living alone, and while I love it now, it was a difficult adjustment. I was used to having people around to chat with, ask for outfit advice, or even just for company when watching a tv show. Now I’ve learned to rely more on myself and have a more prominent emphasis on taking care of myself. One habit that’s helped me navigate this is writing a little to do list everyday with daily tasks – like doing laundry or making lunch, and larger tasks like homework or planning a trip. These little checklists help me to stay on track and make sure I don’t forget to do the little things because I am responsible for myself here. Along with the increased responsibility of living alone comes an increased level of freedom. Since there is no one here telling me what to do every day, I can do whatever I want. I normally choose to spend my free time walking around town aimlessly and discovering new hidden restaurants, boutiques, and wine bars. This free time around the city has really helped me get to know my surroundings and be more comfortable as a local. It has taken me some time to get adjusted to everything from a new schedule to a new living style, to a new school and daily tasks that were challenging the first week here, like grocery shopping and navigating public transportation, now just feel like a part of my schedule.
Going through the struggle of navigating a new life in a foreign country has taught me so much about myself that I could only learn by going through this experience.
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