Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

June 18, 2015

First 48 hours in France: Thoughts, Feelings and Lessons Learned.

     (Due to my limited access to internet here this is a pre-scheduled post that I wrote on Monday evening, hence the title "First 48 Hours...". :-) )

     After being in France for just a couple of days, so many thoughts and feelings are already running through my head! I originally had a different blog post scheduled for today, but I felt the need to write a few immediate thoughts about being abroad. That's the beauty of blogging, I can bump posts around as I wish- hehe!

My first French crepe! (With coconut, coconut ice cream and chocolate)

     In no particular order, I thought that I would share some thoughts and observations from my first few days of living abroad! This might help you all to get a glimpse into my head, heart (and anxiety state) from when I first arrived, and other followers who have studied abroad or traveled a lot internationally before might be able to relate!

  • Something will always go wrong in your travel plans, but it doesn't mean this is the end of the world. My mom told me this before I left. I was lucky in that everything went very smoothly with my flight (minus the fact that I could not fall asleep, but that wasn't the fault of the airline). My travel agenda problems arose in the second leg of my journey: which was the part in which I had to change trains at a smaller train station in a suburb outside of my final destination. My first train ran very late, and I missed my second train. Even though I was jet-lagged and running on no sleep, I somehow communicated with the ticket associate at the station (mind you I am not fluent in French yet- more on that to come) and she kindly didn't charge me to switch my train ticket to a later train! It was a little bit scary having to spend more time than expected in the smaller train station with all of my luggage, not knowing a soul, but I prayed my way through the experience to calm down, and everything turned out fine.
  • Some foreign stereotypes are true. On my way to my first day of school, I saw a man leaving a "boulangerie" (bakery) carrying a fresh baguette wrapped in paper, just like I had seen portrayed in my French textbooks or various movies and such. So much cooler than just buying a (American-made) baguette at a grocery store! 

  •  It's okay to indulge small comforts from home. I felt coming into this experience as though there was a lot of pressure on me to immediately start getting out there, soaking up the culture, and doing all things French as soon as I got here. What I actually realized is even though I got lucky without having to deal with a lot of jet lag, homesickness (for Charlotte) was real. I didn't want to let that get me down, so I made sure to make time both on the evening of my arrival and on my first afternoon after school to work on my blog a little bit, and to watch a little bit of Netflix. Both of these things are stress relievers/comforts for me when I'm at school/home, and sure enough, it worked! Will I be spending all of my free time in France huddled in bed binge watching Gossip Girl? Absolutely not! But is it okay for me to take some chill time to enjoy some online comforts from America when I know that this experience is overwhelming me? Absolutely

  • Download an app on your phone that's an offline dictionary in the native language of the country that you're in. So handy for those quick words that you forget! And make sure it's an offline app if you don't have an international cellular data plan!

  •  There is nothing more humbling than living in a place where people do not speak your language. Words are a big part of my life. I use written words almost everyday when working on this blog, and I value the spoken word as well, as I am a communications major in school and I hope to someday soon pursue my dream of working in radio broadcasting. Yet I never quite realized the value of speech and my words until I found myself residing in a country where my new family does not speak my native tongue. Instead, I have to carefully think before I speak, so that I can form sentences and phrases that make sense. Thinking before I speak is a great lesson for me- it is frustrating yet humbling. Being a student at a French language immersion school 5x a week is also a humbling (yet exciting) process.

  • It's really fun to travel to Europe three months before your 21st birthday. #WineAtEveryDinner But really though.... Also I'm going to my first-ever wine tasting tonight which is organized by my school! Adult status!!

      Overall, I think that I will really enjoy it here! If I had to use one word to describe my study abroad process so far, it would be "overwhelming." Not only did I travel to the other side of the world, but I have to speak a second language which isn't even technically my second language yet! But it will all be okay. There have been many wonderful moments already, like enjoying my first ever French crepe (pictured above), my first trip to a French grocery store, and my first time seeing the adorable bedroom at my host family's house that I get to call mine for the next few weeks (see it on my Instagram! @miss_alk).

     Stay tuned for Monday's post! This Sunday is one of my favorite holidays, National Wear Your Lilly Day! I didn't bring any of my Lilly or Lilly for Target dresses with me to France as I didn't want to bring any clothes that would make me stick out too much as an American tourist (for fear of theft or other crime), but I did bring a few Lilly accessories which I will be sporting on Sunday. And Monday's post is my tribute to National Wear Your Lilly Day- you won't want to miss it!

     xoxo Miss ALK



  1. Ahhh, how exciting! I can't wait to see more of your adventures & I hope you have such a great time :)

    xoxo, SS

    The Southern Stylista

  2. so exciting!! can't wait to read more!!

  3. Your trip seems so fun Annaliese! I hope you feel more "at home" in France soon!


  4. Offline dictionaries saved my ass when I was studying abroad and traveling in Asia!


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