I’ve been in France for more than 10 months now and it’s time to repack the suitcase. I’ve done everything I wanted to do during my stay: learned the language, met people from around the world and passed my exams at university. I even managed to travel a bit around France. It seems strange packing. I don’t feel as if I’m returning from being on holiday, rather It’s almost as if I’m leaving home again.
You can do a lot in 10 months. When you really integrate and embed yourself in something, whether it be a new hobby, lifestyle or living in a different country, you become heavily invested in that thing. I’ve really invested myself in living in France over the last 10 months from eating baguettes, almost always speaking French to participating in strikes with alarming regularity (maybe not so much the last one). Nevertheless the way I’ve acted and adapted to Lyon hasn’t been easy, but in my opinion necessary to get the most out of my year. If I had behaved as if I were still in Glasgow, it would have been a much worse experience not because there’s anything wrong with Glasgow, but rather because things are much different in Lyon.
Everything from lectures to meal times are different. Moreover, you have to be able to adapt to properly enjoy this new style of doing things. The best way to do so is to be open and easy-going towards people and ideas. In all likelihood many of the things you’ll find yourself doing such as eating new types of food or speaking to people from different parts of the world wouldn’t ordinarily occur if you hadn’t taken time abroad and even if they had, they would certainly seem strange at first. Thus, the best way for something to no longer seem strange is to have an open mind about it and be have the willingness to accept that you’ve been wrong in the past. For example, many would find chips with mayonnaise sauce odd in Britain but upon discovering this delicious revelation here in France I was unconditionally wrong to have championed ketchup before.
It’s the small things that add up when you’re making a big change. Practicing language and eating baguettes spitefully every day are small things that help you seamlessly integrate into the French lifestyle. That combined with the open minded mentality we spoke of earlier and you have a game-winning combination. Now that my stay is close to being over and I feel that I’ve done my best, I can’t have any qualms about heading back to Glasgow. That said, I wish to champion chips with mayonnaise back in Glasgow.