Little in my life has changed in the last year or so. I’ve had the same friends, the same routine and ate all the same foods at the usual places. All of that changed during my first week in Angers. It was a week full of ups and downs for me and many of the other international students as we struggled to acclimate and figure out what classes we needed to be in. I felt everything from regret and despair to complete joy and amazement as I tried to find my place here. While riding this roller coaster of emotions, I experienced a lot of new things that helped to make the transition easier. Seeing as this is my first blog post, it only seems appropriate to use it to tell you about some of the things I did for the first time this week.
My first plane ride: By 20 years old, most people have been on a plane before, but not me. My first time on a plane was when I started my study abroad adventure. I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect. I thought I would hate it and that maybe I would even get sick. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that not only was I not sick at all, but I actually enjoyed it.Takeoff was exhilarating, the food was good and the entertainment was great. What made it even better was that I had two friends with me, and we got to see the Statue of Liberty from the plane (another first for me since I have never been to New York).
My first time outside of the USA: That’s right,I had never been outside of the USA before this week. It was a big adjustment, but I was well-prepared after my nine years of taking French language and culture classes. All those years of classes really helped me to get a good idea of how to speak and act french, but there is simply no substitute for being here. Being here is helping me to expand my vocabulary in ways that classes couldn’t and is also helping me to experience another culture for myself, rather than just reading about it in a textbook.
My first time at a castle: The United States doesn’t have many castles, so now that I live down the street from one I had to go tour it right away. My friends and I went to the Chateau d’Angers twice this week to do just that. The views from the top of the castle are unmatched and well worth all of the walking to get there.In addition to the great views we enjoyed taking in all of the history throughout the castle including the Tenture de l’Apocalypse, which is an enormous tapestry depicting the end of the world. Did I mention students get complete access to all the grounds for free?
My first taste of French food: My residence hall does not provide meal plans for us, so my first taste of french food did not come until after we toured the chateau this weekend. We went to a nearby creperie, appropriately named “Creperie du Chateau,”where I had a delicious galette. A galette is a savory crepe filled with more savory items, such as the bacon and potatoes I had in mine. It was delicious, we had excellent service, there was a great atmosphere and it didn’t cost much at all. My first taste of real french cuisine lived up to all my expectations and I look forward to much more.
My first class in France: My first class at UCO was Medieval History. It was a much larger class than I had anticipated. Most other classes had been rumoured to be less than 10 students, but mine was easily over 30. Of all the students in this class, I was one of only three international students. My professor made a point of making us feel welcome and accommodated without calling too much attention to us. Throughout the class, he was easy to understand and made the class extremely enjoyable. If all my classes are this great, life will be good.
Overall, I’ve had a harder time adjusting than I thought I would, but I’m trying to keep myself busy with lots of new and exciting things. Every day presents me with another “first,”no matter how small it may be, and countless memories. Through each new experience I learn to appreciate the little things more. Not everything has to be big to be exciting; just the fact that I’m here is exciting.