I've been in Caen, France for 13 days!! That's almost 2 weeks of adjusting. The first major change I had to deal with was the time difference. Here, I am six hours ahead of my family back in Tennessee. It took a full recoup day in which I slept 12 hours for me to adjust. Even still, 8am classes are as difficult as ever!
Speaking of classes, I just went through my first week of them! I didn't go into the week expecting anything in particular (which was good)! I was met with French, French, and more French. I can now relate to international students who come to the U.S. speaking a language other than English. I've never been more sympathetic! Even after being confronted with the foreign questions and answering that I did not understand what was being asked, I realized that that was quickly becoming an invalid excuse. This was France, after all!
Of course, I was met with patience, and professors, faculty, and students alike were kind enough to explain as best they could with different french words, but in my head, I kept thinking "Just speak English!" I'd never felt more stereo-typically American-that is, self-centered and closed off to the French culture. I was the minority here. That was definitely a tough thing to comprehend. After a few frustrating days, I realigned my sights. I was here to learn this beautiful language! I shouldn't be tip-toeing around it and messing it up by wanting the familiarity of English translations!
Within the past two weeks, I've been able to explore the area around the campus and see some pretty amazing sites within the Normandy region. I've visited Mont Saint-Michel and the D-day beaches. I've depended on a plane, a shuttle, a tram, and a bus-but mainly, I've depended on my God-given legs! (Oh, I've never used them so much in my life!) Luckily, the beautiful architecture within the "ordinary" streets of Caen propels me forward.
Today, a fellow international student from England introduced me to a lovely French cafe. I believe it will be my safe haven while I spend my time here. The food has been amazing, but my location has not improved my cooking skills. They are still quite poor. I was blessed with the chance to join a friend on a visit to Franceville where a few of her friends live. There, we had an amazing three course lunch, and I was able to speak French and English with them. Within the next week, it is my goal to spend more time off campus, actively communicating in French, and also, to explore the local restaurants further. I hope to also meet a few French students from Caen who might be willing to help me learn their beautiful language.