la saison de Noël en France, and Home for the Holidays

Salut à tous! It has been exactly one month since my last blog post, la saison de Noël (the Christmas season) has come and gone, and a lot has happened since I last updated you all, so let’s just jump right in.

Shortly after posting my last blogpost I went to revisit la Capitale de Noël (Strasbourg) to see its famous Christmas markets and catch up with some of the Holy Cross kids. The name, “Capital of Christmas,” does not lie. The sights and sounds of Strasbourg’s Grande Île (big island) were as Christmas-y as you can get. Little wooden houses crowded every open area on the island, selling delicious crêpes, aromatic vin chaud(  hot wine), and various types of Christmas decorations. Dozens of nativity scenes and giant illuminated christmas trees were also scattered around the city. Having the opportunity to catch up with friends as well as being able to reflect on how incredibly fast our  past five months in France flew by was also a highlight of my trip. Then, after my short one night stay, I headed back to Dijon to find a smaller scale version of les marchés de Noël( Christmas markets) waiting for me in my own city. That following Monday, I finally received my exam schedule, only to find out that I coincidentally had one of my only three exams the day after I was scheduled to leave for the US. So, in place of this two hour long written exam, I had to take a separate hour long one-on-one oral exam with my professor. To be completely honest, the “exam” did not go over so well.  Even though I studied day in and day out for this exam, even going over questions with my host mom, nothing could have prepared me for that hour long FRENCH interrogation of the economics of the European Union.

After that fiasco, the next day I headed back to Charles De Gaulle Airport to fly back home to New York for Christmas. I can’t even describe la joie (the joy) it brought me to be back communicating in English and understanding all that was being said to me so clearly. However, I oddly found myself speaking much slower, as I am used to in order for foreigners to better understand me. Although I was only in the States for nine short days, I jam packed all that I could in the time I was allotted. My trip was filled with runs to Dunkin’ Dounuts, trips to Manhattan and Queens, and chances to see so many friends and family that I have missed. Having everyone ask me questions about my experiences during le dîner du Réveillon (Christmas Eve dinner), and being able to tell stories of my own experiences felt amazing. I did not truly see the extent of my personal growth as a result of my time abroad, until almost everyone at home brought something new about me to my attention. To be fair, I do feel like I have been through more in the past five months than I have in any other period of my life, so there is a reason for so much change.

After spending quality time with my family, and eating as much home-cooked holiday food as possible, it was time to start the second leg of my year abroad. Although my trip was bref (brief), it was just what I needed to mentally and physically prepare myself for round two of my study abroad experience. Right now, I am currently in the process of studying for my other two finals (French Universities usually have their finals in January), as well as applying for summer internships. And at the same time, I am also planning more great trips for next semester, which I’m excited to share with you all! I’m so glad that my time abroad isn’t finished yet, because there is still so much more to see and do! I can’t wait to see what this next part of my year has in store for me!

À bientôt!

-Sean

Leçon du jour: On est vraiment bien que chez soi pour les fêtes. 

There’s no place like home for the holidays.

 

Photos from Weeks 17, 18, 19, & 20

Strasbourg again!

Not Rockefeller Center, but it’ll do

Extra festive

Les marchés

Michael’s Craft Store is SHOOK

Italy Squad reunited

Le Palais des Ducs with Christmas rides

Had to get some churros and Nutella

Went back home for a minute

Some much needed family time