Bonjour tout le monde ! I am writing this final blogpost to you from my bed in New York. Its unbelievable how quickly junior year has come and gone. It feels like just last week that I was packing my suitcases with a whole year of adventures ahead of me, and now I’m in the midst of unpacking in May with all my amazing experiences in my memories and on my camera roll. For my final post I didn’t want to write a typical recount of my travels from Dijon to NY, instead, I have written a reflection on what it has been like to end one of the most amazing and memorable years of my life.

I didn’t feel it when I landed in JFK, nor when I was recounting all my stories of the semester face to face with my friends and family for the first time. Rather, I felt it when I ate my first “family style” dinner, when I went out to get ice cream on a Sunday night, and when I was confronted by a stranger who’s English I mistook as French for a minute. Culture shock. It was the same feeling as I felt when I first arrived in France. When I sat through my first two hour-long dinner with my host family, and when I first realized I couldn’t really go anywhere on a Sunday afternoon in France. But why was I now feeling culture shock with my own culture? The sentiment is unmistakeable, feeling like an outsider of the place you’re in by not understanding (remembering, in my case) social understandings/ way of life/ and general attitudes of the people around you. All things that I expected when showing up in Tours, but not in my own hometown.

I had previously read about reverse culture shock, but did not believe that I would be experiencing it. I assumed that I would pick up my American habits without any problem, and I was right, but every slight difference between my life in France and my life in the States became apparent while going through my daily motions this week. The “shock” didn’t come from the difference in habits, but from the realization that I had adapted to my French way of life and had to re-acclimate to my style of living back at home. This meant no more trips to the corner boulangerie, no more practicing conversations in my head, and no more avoiding gilets jaunes (anyone wearing yellow vests). Its been strange to revert back to my old ways, but not difficult. After being in “French mode” for so long, all I can do now is keep the habits that I want to keep, get rid of the ones I don’t, and comment “iN fRaNcE tHeY dO iT LikE tHiS,” about as much as I can to remind my friends and family that I lived abroad for a year.

Another thing about re-acclimating to life back home is answering the question that I’ve already gotten dozens of times this past week, “so, how was your year abroad?” The tough thing about this question is shortening down my response to a few short words/phrases in order to keep the conversation going. Yes, the people asking genuinely want to know how the last year of my life has been, but many of them just wouldn’t understand if I responded “It was life changing, so many highs and so many lows. I see the world in a total.y different way now, yet I’m so relieved to be home.” So I tend to keep the simple, “It was amazing ! I went to so many different places, and really had the time of my life.” Being back home is interesting because of how much my individual world has changed this year, yet I have come back to a relatively unchanged life. I am still just a rising senior in college, getting ready to work my summer job, and waiting till I’m legal to drink again in the States, even though I feel that I have changed and grown so much since I left home nine months ago.

I have had so many incredible experiences this year. And through them all, I’ve not only learned about other cultures, met so many great people, and been to hundreds of new places, but I’ve unexpectedly learned a lot about myself in the process. I now know that I can be thrown into an unfamiliar environment and not only survive, but thrive. I was able to arrive in Dijon not knowing a single soul, and then leave there nine months later knowing that the connections I made in the city will one day bring me back to revisit. No class at Holy Cross could have taught me lessons like how to budget my summer savings to travel an entire continent for a year, how to relate with people who don’t have the same culture as me, or how to skillfully maneuver public European transportation systems. A year abroad is an invaluable experience that I would not change for the world. These past nine months have been the best of my life, and I am so blessed to have been able to go on this adventure and to have had you all to share my stories with.

As this is my last blogpost, thank you all for coming on this journey with me. You have read about all my ups and downs of the past nine months and have hopefully felt like you were right there with me every step of the way. Being the only HC student in Dijon made life a little lonely at times, but I am so glad I was able to share my genuine thoughts and emotions with so many people who read this blog and get great feedback in return, which made life feel a little less solitary at the time. I hope my posts have inspired at least one perspective student, one HC sophomore, or anyone else considering the idea of going abroad to take a leap of faith like I did, and to explore what the world has to offer.

Merci for being apart of Dijon with Sean

Au revoir,


A quote that has been circling around the HC students abroad who are getting sentimental that our year is just about over :

« This is why once you’ve traveled for the first time all you want to do is leave again. They call it the travel bug, but really it’s the effort to return to a place where you are surrounded by people who speak the same language as you. Not English nor French nor Spanish nor Italian, but that language where others know what it’s like to leave, change, grow, experience, learn, then go home again and feel more lost in your hometown then you did in the most foreign place you visited. » -Kellie Donnelly, blogger

Photos from Weeks 39 & 40

One last night out

Palais des Ducs, encore

Opening of the Musée des Beaux Arts de Dijon !

Me, appreciating art

A painting of Dijon

Sentimental midnight strolls

Last class at Saint Jo !

trying to teach my parents how to eat du fromage

Sean Carroll, duc de Bourgogne


Nearing the End

Bonjour à tous! As temperatures begin to rise, and the Dijonnais (people from Dijon) start their annual May manifestations, my time in France is slowly coming to a foreseeable end. Where has the time gone?  It feels like just yesterday that I was having a my apocalyptic mental breakdown at the bus stop in Tours. Anyway, I have spent this past week taking exams, saying goodbye to some of my new friends, and at the same time trying to tie up loose ends before my final trip back home.  It’s been sad ending the entire life that I have establish for myself here in France, but it has shown me the extent to which I have made Dijon my home, and I am extremely thankful for that.

Final exams have been the first to-do on my departure checklist. Finals abroad are a whole different cauchemar (nightmare) from those at Holy Cross. Not only because most are worth 100% of your grade, but also because of the fact that you never know entirely what is going on in your class throughout the semester . Although classes here are easier in terms of grading systems and exam questions, taking a class in a different language with a room full of native speakers is a challenge all its own. My best advice to anyone studying in a foreign country would be to find a native student who understands the school system and is kind enough to share their notes with you. With the help of several generous French students and the habit of writing “ERASMUS” in big bold letters at the top of each exam paper, I’ve been doing surprisingly well for myself on my finals without many misfortunes.

Since finishing my exams, I have found myself stepping back to appreciate Dijon more than before. Whether it’s when I’m listening to the Amèlie soundtrack on walks to my favorite boulangerie, joking around with my host family at the dinner table, or just sipping tea with my friends, I can feel the end approaching and I’ve been doing my best to elongate every fleeting second. Its crazy to think that in ten short days I will be back in my room in New York with my year abroad as only a fond memory.

These last few weeks have made me recognize how fortunate I was this year to be surrounded by such incredible people. Both my host family and my HC advisors have done an amazing job of making a strange foreign city feel comfortable enough for me to call home. I could not have asked for a better host family than my mère d’accueil (host mom) Jocelyne and frère d’accueil (host brother) Martin, who have accepted me as one of their own from the start; as well as my advisors Christelle and Nanou who have done an outstanding job of guiding me through this strange and demanding year. And I can’t express how thankful I am to have met my amazing group of friends here in wee Dijon. My friends Aislinn, Aisling, Fabian, Jen, Kirsty, Niamh, and Sophie, have all truly been my saving graces this year. I don’t think that I could have made it out of this year alive if it wasn’t for our outings to le Beverly or our tea nights, where I was fully able to express myself and take a breather from all the French for a couple of hours. I am so fortunate to have found a proper group of friends here in Dijon that has taught me so much and who I know that I will continue to be friends with for the rest of my life.

These last few days have made it abundantly clear how blessed I have been this year, as well as how deeply rooted my life in France has become. From closing my French bank account, to giving my two-week notice in at work, I had planted myself so firmly in Dijon that it’s honestly been a bit of a pain to dig up.  At least now I can say that I understand what it means to “uproot yourself.” Never before in my life, not even during my first year of college, had I ever had to change my life so drastically and start a new as I did this year. I guess even 38 weeks into study abroad I’m still having new experiences. C’est fou hein? (It’s crazy isn’t it?)

Citation du jour: Il n’y a pas d’au revoir pour nous. Peu importe où tu es, tu seras toujours dans mon coeur.

There is no goodbye for us. Wherever you are, you will be in my heart.- Gandhi

À bientôt!


Photos from Weeks 37 & 38

Get friends that pick you up when you’re down

My favorite people, in my favorite city

hey Alexa, play Voulez-vous

Being tourists for the day

Arc de triomphe à Dijon > à Paris

Denim squad

Finishing up classes au collège Saint-Joseph

Dijon aka chez moi

“but Studying Abroad is basically a year long vacation”

Salut à tous! It’s hard to believe that my last week-long trip of the year has already come and gone. From this day forward, I will be in France till the very end of the semester, only 27 days but who’s counting? My last trip was unlike any other, filled with Mediterranean sunlight and days of total relaxation. I ventured from Barcelona all the way to Milan, with a few stops in between, so let me catch you up!

On my trip to Barcelona, I was originally supposed to meet up with my best friend from home, but plans fell through at the VERY last minute and I had to explore the city by myself. ANYWAY, Barcelona was incroyable (incredible) nonetheless. The more I explored the city, the more I came to appreciate it. Seeing the iconic Gaudi architecture of the Sagrada Familia and Park Güell really blew me away, and made Barcelona stick out from all the rest of the cities that I have visited this year for sure.  Overall, yes I really enjoyed Barcelona, but this forced solo excursion really solidified my view that traveling is much more enjoyable when you have other people to share your experiences with.

Thankfully, after Barcelona I had planned to meet up with my trusty traveling companions Abby and Ava for one last trip to le sud de la France (the South of France). From the moment we left the gare (train station) in Nice , I knew that I would love it. The city is the perfect mélange (mixture) of French and Italian cultures, with a long stretch of shoreline to boot. Unlike all of our other journeys together, Abby, Ava, and I stayed in Nice for four whole days and just spent our time relaxing at restaurants and cafés by the beach.

Throughout our stay in Nice, Abby, Ava , and I couldn’t help but laugh and reflect on all that we had been through this year. From avoiding floods in Venice, to unjustly getting fined in Budapest, the three of us have been through A LOT together, and I don’t know how I could have ever survived this year without my two friends. This year would have be rien (nothing) without the stories of our many mishaps and dozens of inside jokes. Going from my solo trip in Barcelona, to walking the beach of Nice with Abby and Ava really showed me how lucky I am to have had such amazing friends to travel Europe with. They really helped remind me that I wasn’t totally seul (alone) in my thoughts and experiences abroad. It’s crucial to have people that you can fully relate to while facing so many specific challenges as we have while going through such a life altering experience. And it’s also great being able to vent about your other friends who tell you that “studying abroad isn’t hard because you’re basically on vacation all year,” or that “my time in *insert name of english speaking country here* has been SO difficult, you just wouldn’t understand.” My shared adventures with the Holy Cross kids abroad, especially Abby and Ava, are some of the fondest memories that I have from this year, and will remember for the rest of my life.

Maxime du jour: “La meilleure condition de travail, c’est les vacances” 

the best condition of work, is vacation Jean Marie Gourio (words that the French people LIVE by)

À plus tard!



Photos from Weeks 35 & 36

The Sagrada Familia, taking forever to be built, in typical Euro fashion

Palm Sunday at the Sagrada

My first time touching the Mediterranean Sea

we LOVE Nice

pretending that we wouldn’t rather be at Cooper’s Beach in Southampton, NY

Ran into Nate while in Nice

“We’re going to Monte Carlo”- Abby and I every 10 minutes in Monaco

Abby and her yacht, “the Emmy”

Traveling in France means learning new vocab! (coup de soleil= sunburn)  

Abroad advice- pray that you’re as lucky as me to have travel friends that you can : trust wholeheartedly to book airbnbs without consultation, follow blindly in foreign cities, take turns paying for dinner, and buy dumb touristy tshirts with

Bus detours in Europe will take you to the craziest places

A Different Travel Experience

Bonjour à tous! Last weekend I went on one of my final trips of the year,  to Amsterdam. This trip in particular, was one of the most anticipated since my friends and I planned it during our time in Tours this summer. Amsterdam was yet another city that I heard great reviews of, so I was expecting it to be just like most other places I have traveled to this year, but boy was I wrong.

The trip started off like any other, with early morning wake up call to catch a cheap flight and get into the city by midi (mid-day).  As I have done in in every city that I’ve visited, I ate at restaurants, visited churches, and lounged in coffee shops. Yes, the canals and the architecture were manifiques (gorgeous), but the culture of Amsterdam was surprisingly not my favorite. Contrary to what I was expecting, the relaxed lois (laws) in the city did not make me feel the most comfortable, and it did not help that my hostel was on the edge of the red light district. Don’t get me wrong, Amsterdam is an amazingly unique city, but it’s definitely not a city that I could ever see myself living in.

Although I felt uneasy about a few things during the trip, what I did enjoy was spending a day doing a canal and brewery tour with my friends Ava, Dan, and Nate. In no other city had I paid for anything other than musées (museums) or bouffe (food), so pretending to be an actual tourist with disposable money instead of a broke college kid for a day was fun. It definitely made me excited to explore more of Europe later on in life, when I don’t have a negative balance in my bank account.

Overall, I can see how Amsterdam could be the favorite European destination for many, but it just did not resonate with me as well as some of the other great cities that I’ve been to have. But hey, maybe I’ll be back one day and my mind will be changed. As for now, I’d rather be walking the comfortable streets of Dijon than the red light district in Amsterdam.

Leçon du jour:  “L’opinion a causé plus de problèmes que des pestes ou des tremblements sur cette petite terre.”

“Opinion has caused more trouble on this little earth than plagues or earthquakes“- Voltaire

À bientôt!


Photos from Week 34

did you really go to Amsterdam if you don’t have a canal picture??

Last abroad trip with Jason, we will def miss Munich the most

Nate trying incredibly hard to be as cool as effortless Ava

Lad’s Holiday

Anne Frank’s House (thanks for the recommendation Abi)

The Venice of the North

Doing some touristy things for once Dan, a beer connoisseur

 Ava holding on to me for dear life as we walk across a canal

Me an some pigeons eating a loaf of bread

Collège Saint-Joseph

Salut à tous!  Since my last update, I have made my final trip to Paris, accompanied by my friends from Dijon. It was an overall amazing weekend and I enjoyed making a trip with the people who have made my experience in France so enjoyable. Apart from last weekend, I’ve been spending a lot of time focused on my ICIP (Independent Cultural Immersion Project). The ICIP is a 10 page reflection required of each Holy Cross student abroad, written completely in their language of immersion. My topic of choice has been my work at Collège Saint-Joseph. Though I briefly touched upon the subject in a previous blogpost, I figured that I would go greater in depth about mon travail (my work) due to the fact that it is one of the most interesting parts of my life in Dijon.

In October, I made it clear to my coordinators that I needed a way to both make a few extra euros and keep myself moderately busy during the week. Within no time, I was given the contact of a local middle school where I had an interview to be a Foreign Language Assistant. After going through the hiring process, I was assigned around 100 students separated into four different classes with whom I would hold English conversation lessons with each week. It wasn’t long until I was spending almost as much time at Collège Saint-Joseph as I was at l’Université de Bourgogne.

At the middle school, I have at least one class from each year: sixième (5th graders), cinquième (6th graders), and quatrième (7th graders). All of whom know an incredible amount of English already, the quatrième a considerable amount more than the sixième of course. In the beginning, I was surprised by the level at which even the 10 year old sixième students were able to understand. Although they are not comfortable enough with the language to hold a conversation, I would say that French 10 year olds know as much English as I did French during my junior year of high school. Having a variation of age groups is also interesting because I am able to see the difference a year makes to a middle schooler’s knowledge and maturity level and how easy or difficult collégiens (middle schoolers) can make teaching a class be, depending on their cooperation.

Each week I teach a different lesson on American culture, which range from the topics of holidays to celebrities, regional differences to eating habits, and I have yet to run out of subjects to talk about. Usually, the classes are less student-teacher oriented but rather are groups of French children asking me to deny or validate their established ideas of American culture. My time at the middle school has really shown me the great amount of knowledge which other countries have of les États-Unis (United States), even if it is sometimes misconstrued. I oftentimes have mes élèves (my students) asking me about random facts such as the meaning behind Groundhog’s day or why Americans in movies always eat pizza with their hands instead of a fork and knife. It would be extremely hard to find an American middle schooler that knows more about a foreign culture than foreign middle schoolers know about American culture without ever visiting the country.

The level of knowledge my middle schoolers have about the English language and American culture really attests to how influential America and other anglophone countries are in the world. It also shows how little Americans know and are taught about the world outside of our borders in comparison, which is a grave problem that definitely needs fixing.

Leçon du jour:  “L’éducation est l’arme la plus puissante qu’on puisse utiliser pour changer le monde.” -Nelson Mendella

“Education is the most powerful weapon that we can use to change the world”

À bientôt!


Photos from Weeks 32 & 33

The middle school that I work at

Quasimoto’s view of Paris

Me and Fabes 

I have visited the Arc FOUR TIMES and still YET to get to the top

le Beverly gang (sans Aislinn)

me in my safe space (Paris)

Ameilie Cafe w Aisling

Des amis

SO thankful for all the friends I have made in Dijon