Quite honestly I don't even know how to begin this post! I guess I will start by saying that if there is anything that I am certain of at my almost 21 years of life, it's to trust your gut. That might sound cliche, but I know that it's certainly not a cliche within my own life!! I believe that one of the ways that God speaks to me is through the strong "gut feelings" that I get in certain situations, either telling me something is very good or very bad. I'm sure that He does the same thing for many other people as well- I believe 100% that human instinct is something that's God given.
Now y'all are probably REALLY wondering where I am going with this blog post! Many of you know that I have been studying abroad in Tours, France, since June 13th. (It is a month-long summer program for the French language.) In short, my experience so far has overall not been a positive one, and instead has been quite the opposite.
When I first arrived and some things didn't seem right, I didn't want to rush to judgement. I blamed it on a lot of things: jet lag (Which actually I later realized wasn't the case! I managed to avoid that on this trip- I might write a blog post on that! Anyways), culture shock, impatience... etc. But as the first couple days turned into my first week and then into two weeks, the issues that were there only seemed to get worse.
I kept telling myself again and again that I'm the girl who LOVES going to college in North Carolina, literally 1000 miles from home. How can I be experiencing so much discomfort if I don't normally experience homesickness at school? And then it hit me... I wasn't homesick. What was going on is that I was caught in a bad study abroad situation. That's when the whole gut feeling thing really kicked in! (As well as many phone calls to my parents...)
Originally in this post I was going go into detail about what exactly it was that was so wrong here in Tours. But I realized now that I don't think it's necessary. To be brief, the language school that I was placed it was a terrible fit for me (not academically, due to the climate of the school), and probably not a place that I ever should have been placed in. There were also some severe things with my host family- my host parents were both kind, but unfortunately they weren't the only people in the family. And not everyone in the house treated me with kindness and respect.
Again, I could go into so much more detail, but at this point, I don't need to. What matters is that I listened to my gut. I reached out to my parents, and then to my university back home. That's when I got the confirmation that what was happening to me here wasn't normal, and that this wasn't the type of study abroad experience that I (or anyone!) should be having.
But I am so pleased and grateful to share that my study abroad experience will be getting a second chance come this Sunday. The study abroad department at my university was so considerate and caring as to listen to what was happening with me here, and arranged for me to switch to a different language school in the South of France. I leave on Sunday afternoon by train! It is absolutely TERRIFYING to be traveling completely alone across a foreign country, especially when my first experience in said country hasn't been very positive. But I am feeling so blessed to have this opportunity, and I truly pray that it will be better! I know that at the very least I am looking forward to seeing the Mediterranean Sea!
I do want to say lastly too, that not everything about Tours has been awful. I have had a lot of fun checking out Rue Nationale, Tours' premiere street for shopping, several afternoons after school, eating delicious French pastries, and enjoying the architecture of the city. I have tried to share some of the positive moments so far (and some of my outfits that I've been wearing!) on my Instagram, @miss_alk, so be sure to follow me if you aren't! My Snapchat username is also @miss_alk.
I would appreciate if y'all could pray for me on Sunday as I travel across France! Thank-you all so much for your support during my time abroad!!
There will be a blog post tomorrow, and one on Monday as well!!
xoxo Miss ALK
P.S. I finally finished watching Gossip Girl during my first couple weeks here! A bit late to the party, I know... but better late than never, right? I LOVED seasons 4+5... was iffy about season 6, but LOVED the finale. Were you guys fans of the finale?