Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Travel Bug, Home Sickness, and Other Illnesses

I've never really been homesick before. Even spending one and a half months in a foreign country, I'm still not homesick. I miss my friends, peanut butter, being able to use my phone, and air conditioning now that its July. I miss my car, driving where ever I want whenever I want. I miss American food and being able to shop on Sunday. I miss all of my clothes! And I miss my dog, my bed, and the Smoky Mountains. But I don't want to go home, not yet. I only have a little more than two weeks now, and that seems so short! I know that it will feel so good to be back at home, but I'm already planning what I want to do next time I go to Europe.

When I first got here, I was sick. Oh, how I wanted to go home, rest in my queen-sized bed, and eat macaroni & cheese. But, I don't think that was homesickness, Just regular sickness. I didn't want to leave Europe, I just wanted to be in a familiar place to get well.

Fresh fruit for sale outside of a market
(that doesn't sell peanut butter)
Sometimes school has made me want to leave just to get away from the hard work for a week. I can't wait to go back to Maryville, though, and be back in school. Compared to learning a foreign language IN that foreign language IN that foreign country, everything else will seem like nothing. Organic chemistry? Ecology? Literature? Child's play. (I'll probably regret saying that in October). If I somehow make it through the last weeks of the course, I will be invincible, not to be dramatic.

Of course, being in a new country with different customs has opened my eyes and given me a new perspective on life. For example, seeing the hundreds of homeless people in Rome around the train station has shown me that in these cities  there are still so many suffering people despite the beautiful setting. In regards to education, school has always been challenging for me, but not like this at all. This kind of challenging makes my brain physically shut down after just three hours of class. Maybe its the 1 hour round trip walk to class up and down a big hill. Or maybe its just trying to understand what the assignment is, let alone actually doing it. But it's probably having to use this new part of my brain not just in the classroom, but at restaurants, at the grocery store, and even on week-end trips. I never have a break from French. It's great because I know that I am learning and retaining so much more since I'm actually in France (which is still hard to believe). However, it's exhausting. It's exhausting, but don't misunderstand me. It's so worth it. I know that I'm growing so much here. I'm actually picking up a little French, I'm learning news customs, I'm learning how to travel on every kind of transportation possible, and I'm learning how to live like the French do. I wouldn't change these past 6 weeks for anything even though I have to lay down for an hour everyday after class out of pure exhaustion.

In regards to other illnesses, I've been pretty lucky. Besides my rocky beginning with whatever cold-like sickness I had, I have only had one other problem. I think the water made me a bit queasy after I drank a full water bottle of tap water. I had been drinking tap water since the beginning, but maybe such a huge quantity at once was too much. I didn't get physically sick, but I went to bed hours early and just rested all night. I had to miss out on a fun dinner with friends from ISEFE. Besides that, I've been pretty healthy. I haven't had to miss out on any week-end trips. Some other people here haven't had such luck. One guy had a heat stroke, my friend chipped her teeth and had to visit the hospital, and plenty of others have had food poisoning (or maybe it was just new foods like my tap water situation). Everyone has had some run-in with being sick. So, we all know the stress of trying to work with doctors who only speak French or different hospital customs. Being sick abroad may be the most stressful time ever.

A few days ago over spotty communication thanks to only having limited internet access in my apartment, I received some news from my parents. Three days after I get back from France, we are going to Canada. To be more specific, we are going to Quebec City, a French-speaking province in Canada. I have been suggesting to my parents that we go to Canada for years now, but I can't believe of all times, they choose to go this August. I'm very excited to see Canada, to practice my French more, and to see the differences in accents. However, this summer will be the most traveling I've ever done, maybe the most anyone has ever done. It feels like it, anyways. I am going to be so exhausted. Will I even remember what America is like? I'll be experiencing culture shock during school because America will seem so foreign after 10 weeks traveling in other countries.

The Love bridge in Annecy, France, otherwise knows as "The Venice of the Alps"
But, I have to go. I've caught the travel bug. I'm planing a trip in my head to the U.K. and I want to see central Europe after spending time with people from there and hearing about their home. I also met a guy from Australia who is traveling around Europe, and now I want to go to the Netherlands, Germany, and Australia, naturally. The world is so amazing. I want to see all of it. I want to be fluent in a foreign language. I want to keep meeting people form Italy and Turkmenistan (I didn't even know that was a country before I met someone from there).  Maybe I'll be tired of traveling after this summer, but that prognosis seems unlikely.