Coucou! (Hey!) Now I know that these blog entires might make it seem like I’m rarely in France, but I swear, I spend a majority of my time in Dijon, speaking and learning French. Understandably, the stories that I have recently found the most worthy of blogging about do not come from my 6 hours of one-on-one French classes, or from mes conversations du dîner (my diner conversations) with my host family, but rather from my travel experiences. So let me fill you in on my most recent trip to Madrid, Spain!
Le week-end dernier, I traveled to Spain to meet up with two of my best friends from Holy Cross, Matt and Jason. Unlike in Munich, there was no main event taking place in Madrid to occupy our weekend, so we were able to leisurely explore, which I have come to realize is the best way to experience a city. While touring Madrid, I found myself making many comparisons between Spain’s culture and France’s. Although the spoken language was incomprehensible to me, I could, for the most part, read signs and make inferences with my knowledge of other romance languages. Since Madrid is easily walkable, my two friends and I were able to see so much of the city in the three days that we were there. The Spanish Royal Palace, the Prado Art Museum, and Plaza Mayor were just some of the must-sees on our tour. Madrid is also well known for its night life. Donc (so), my friends and I went to a seven story tall discoteca that we were told would give us an accurate feel of what Madrid’s night life is like, and all I can say on this blog is that the discoteca did not disappoint. I had been warned that the Spanish stay up well into the early hours of the morning, but I did not realize the accuracy until I fell asleep on the wooden floor of our Airbnb as soon as i walked through the door at 4am. Overall, I genuinely loved Madrid. The city helped me cross items off my bucket list and gave me the opportunity to catch up with one of the people that I’ve missed the most from home. Sightseeing and the disctoeca were très amusant (very fun), but the best part of the whole trip was spending Saturday night watching dumb youtube videos and laughing about inside jokes with my friends, just like we did back on the Hill.
Leaving the high that was Madrid and being forced to say goodbye to some of my best friends really sent me on a downwards spiral while waiting for my train in Charles de Gaulle Airport. I would confidently say that this was my first severe case of homesickness. While in CDG, having nothing to do but get lost in thought, the pain of missing my friends and family really got to me. Coincidentally, my other friend Jullia was also in CDG at the same time as I was, so we were able to meet up, which ended up only spiraling me down further in to my homesickness after she left. At this point, it really struck me that I was alone in a foreign country yet again. While listening to “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel on a hard cement bench in the train station, I couldn’t help but question all of my recent life choices. “Why did I choose to leave HC, somewhere that makes me so happy?,” “why did I choose to study abroad for a year?,” and “how am I going to make it the next seven months without my friends by my side?,” were all questions that I was asking myself while waiting for the train. After finally getting into my bed after the long weekend, still sulking, I remembered reading this article on a former HC study abroad blog when I was researching where to study. This article provides the stages of living abroad, and gives reasons for commonly felt emotions. It’s effrayant (scary) how accurate it is. I am definitely in the second stage at the moment. After the flashbacks of the easiness of living in America, it really hit me how much I missed it and how far out of my comfort zone I truly am each and every day I am here. After feeling emotions that I never have really felt before, it was comforting to know that what I was going through was a normal part of the study abroad experience, and that it will get better…. eventually.
C’est tout pour l’instant
Leçon du jour: On n’a rien sans rien , no pain no gain
-HC’s frank response to culture shock and homesickness