Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Anxiety Transcends Cultures


I've talked a lot about my time here in France, but I conveniently omitted my moments of duress! This can be a big part of traveling abroad, and so, I feel obligated to share at least a brief overview of the very real fear I have felt and the very extreme anxiety I have gone through.

Grocery shopping has never been a fun task for me to accomplish, and so, I tend to put it off (like this week) until there is nothing edible in my room except the tub of butter in the fridge. (This is a true story!)

I remember the first time I went to Carrefour, which is equivalent to a Walmart back home. While checking out, I managed to set off an alarm and was greeted by a rather intimidating (though very polite) french security guard. I fumbled to find the words to say, completely unable to recall a single bit of french in this instant. I was mortified, even after the encounter. I now coach myself through grocery shopping situations with mental pep talks.

Aside from grocery shopping, there have been two other major instances that I can recall in which I panicked, even momentarily. On my recent trip to Bordeaux, I almost had my wallet stolen out of my purse. I thought I got stuck in the subway metro machine, but as I forced myself through, I came out to find my crossbody purse unzipped. Lucky for me, my wallet was still inside! I eyed the guy who had been close behind me, knowing he was the culprit. After that, I became paranoid when anyone got too close to me. Sometimes fear works in your best interest!

My last high anxiety encounter is one that has happened most recently and is one that many college students can relate to: Test Anxiety! I have taken a few minor tests in various french classes so far, but Grammar was not one of them. As the most difficult of all my classes, I knew that the test would be one to study hard for, and so, two weeks before, I began to prepare. Over our break, I took the testing material with me on the trip to Bordeaux, and I studied while on the train. I stayed up until 3am the day of the test trying to right everything in my mind, but I ended up confusing myself more than anything. Even now, as I wait for the results of the exam (which I will find out tomorrow), I can't help but mentally kick myself for having made obvious and easily recalled mistakes.

There are many other occasions in which I have experienced some negative emotion, but whether it be fear, anxiety, or inferiority, the good emotions have definitely outweighed the bad. I love my life here in France and would suffer through numerous grocery trips just to stay even a day longer than the 97 I have left. I am not and will not let my fears get in the way of experiencing my time abroad to the fullest.

A bientot. -Albrianna