The final weeks prior to my exchange, I felt a hunch forming in the back of my mind about the complexities involved with living in a foreign country for five months. I thought about a lot of things. My Type-A, over-analytical self thought about having a hard time assimilating in country with a primary language I don’t speak, where “s’il vous plait” and “merci beacoup” could only get me so far. Then I thought about transportation: I’d have to take the Metro everywhere. Growing up in big-city Houston, where the city is so spread apart, everything is just a ten minute car ride away. I even thought about making new friends while keeping in touch with those from home. But the heaviest thought I harbored was that of homesickness.
Let me tell you a secret. I’m a family gal. I have an older sister who I look up to every day, I have a selfless mother who time after time puts my wants and needs before her own, and I have a loving and supportive father who gives me the world. But that’s not the secret.
Growing up I was in Girl Scouts, you know, camping in the wilderness, “do a good turn daily,” PTA-moms turned troop leaders, and the beginning of being your own businesswoman by going door to door and selling cookies. Well rewind to the first part, camping in the wild in the middle of nowhere, Texas. For the longest time I was horrified to go to a sleep-away camp because I thought if I wasn’t under the same roof as my parents, I couldn’t sleep. I know, logic, right? For one or two camping trips I went all-in with that strategy, staying up all night and begging the sun to rise again so that I could go home. For several years in elementary school this continued. I wanted nothing to do with sleepovers at my friends houses, Girl Scouts became a daytime hobby, and my bed was the only place I’d feel comfortable sleeping.
Fast forward to college where I go to school in a different city, travel on my own to different states, and do things like sign up to live in France for a semester. I didn’t think that I’d get homesick, but because I had heard horror stories of culture shock and homesickness, the idea festered in the depth of my thoughts.
More than half way through the semester, I find that I haven’t been homesick quite yet. I think it’s because I’ve found a home here in Paris, even though I’m just over 5,000 miles away from Texas. I love my white room with wooden paneling, twin bed and white comforter, twinkly lights at the rim of my wall-length window, and PSG flag at the door of my balcony. I’ve found a home in the way that I wake up thirty minutes before class and mosey down to T-building, where I more often than not run into friends along the walk over. I’ve most importantly found a home in the incredible people I call my friends, those who I most likely wouldn’t have met in my lifetime otherwise. It’s hard to be homesick when I know that I’m blessed to be in the position I am. I’m living in France for five months, where traveling across Europe is one cheap-plane ticket away. I’ve quickly realized that it would be selfish to be homesick.
I’m not homesick, but I’m sick. Like actually cough-cough, “where’s my medicine?”, sick. Who would’ve thought that before I became homesick, I’d just get sick. It’s kind of ironic actually, and kind of lame at the same time. It’s times like this where I realize that I took for granted the fact that the doctors office is two exits down the highway. Just prescribe me some meds doc, I’m over this. But it’s France, and the doctor is most likely away on the weekend, and maybe even on Monday because they feel like it. It’s Saturday night, my friends are out clubbing, and I’m laying in bed being sick. Until I get my medicine I’ll be resting and drinking lots of fluids. But at least I’m not homesick, right?