Brenda with SMU-in-Paris

Brenda is a junior majoring in journalism and French who is studying with SMU-in-Paris this fall.

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Have a Little Faith

So far I’ve been trying to post mainly when something interesting happens, or when I have something to say. Well, it turns out that today I have something to say.

Arriving in Paris a month and a half ago was a relief after spending a few days living out of a suitcase, and coming “home” to a family that seemed so welcoming and accommodating was a great way to start the semester. I must say, that if there is ever a question of “most awkward moment in the history of the world” it would be living with a host family, in a different country, with a different language. Customs, traditions, and celebrations are all different.

I assume each family has their own expectations of the student they’re about to receive for the semester, just like us, as students, have our own expectations and worries about living with a complete set of strangers for four months. I won’t lie, it’s intimidating, it’s scary, and sometimes I wonder “what the heck was I thinking…” but I keep telling myself that it’s all well worth it. The experiences I have gained here in Paris and living abroad have not only opened up my eyes to my immediate world, but also to the world so far beyond me; the world I don’t see every day.

But going back to expectations, I wonder what my French host family envisioned when they received my papers from SMU. Did they expect a student that would spend all of their time studying, all of their time partying, all of their time becoming a part of the family, or a combination of all three? I don’t exactly fit into any one of those three categories, but I feel like the expectations my family had of me might not exactly fit with my personality. I do spend a lot of my time here studying (I actually feel like school is taking over too much of my time here in Paris, but that’s a whole other topic), but my motto is: “work hard, play hard.” After all, I didn’t come to Paris to stay locked up in a 5 x 10 foot bedroom staring at the apartments across the street.

I think because I’ve never been in a situation like this one, living with a set of strangers, it is still taking some getting used to. I feel a bit trapped. I am used to the freedom and liberty that I am offered by going to college 250 miles away from home. I feel as though each and every one of my moves is being monitored, and that I have to check “in” and “out” with my family when I am leaving. After almost three years of living on my own, it is hard answering the demands of people I hardly know, and adapting to life with five others around me.

Living with strangers, (while the term “host family” sounds less austere, at the moment you meet them, they really are nothing more than strangers) and becoming more than just a guest in their house takes work and a tough outer core. I have noticed that my French family is very outright and forthcoming, even when it creates excruciatingly awkward situations.

It seems I still have some things to get used to, but I know that when I look back in 6 months, 2 years, 10 years, etc, my experiences will have made an important contribution in helping me grow into the person I want to become. After all, it’s about having a little faith.

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