C'est si bon!

Bonjour à tous! Je suis Vanessa, étudiante de 20 ans en France pour le moment. Je viens de Pékin, mais j'étudie à la fac à Chicago.

Hello! My name is Vanessa, a 20-year-old student in France for the moment. I come from Beijing, but I go to college in Chicago.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Goodbyes are hard

my host family and I on Polaroid
Bonjour à tous!

Today I said goodbye to my host family, which was so much harder than I imagined. As I embraced my host parents and little brother, I couldn't help but cried. And so did they, which made my tears even harder to hold in. 

Before my stay in Arles, the idea of "host family" was just a way for me to observe the so-called authentic French life. Six weeks later, upon the farewell, I realize that I was wrong. For the past six weeks, in almost no way was I merely a bystander that watched and learned - instead I was a member of the family; I participated. 
Louis and me in Polaroid

It is almost funny thinking back to my first days in this small, historic town, when I was surprised by before-dinner sausages and wines and got lost constantly on my way to classes. Now I'm so used to many French customs that I don't even think twice before I do them: I give everyone three kisses as greetings in the morning, and three more as goodbye; I expect to find wines and baguettes on the terrace at my host home at 7pm every evening, followed by a late but light dinner; I got into the habit of taking a small coffee after every meal... The examples are endless. It's just fascinating how much one adapts to an environment without even noticing. Looking back, I became a lot more assimilated into French life than six weeks ago.
my friends from the program and me at Pont du Gard

And I can shamelessly say that I feel proud of myself, for participating. For learning and having curiosity, for trying everything and accepting most things. This is why I love traveling so much, after all, I guess. That I can truly be a part of the local life, but a however short or long period of time. That I can participate in this wonderful thing that is human culture, that differs so much across the globe but is always awe-inspiring. I really hope that by traveling, I can be  more and more open-minded, welcoming, and understanding. I hope I can be a world citizen by learning others' ways and teaching them mine.

Feeling nostalgia and peace of mind at the same time.

Vanessa :]

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