Have you ever been to another country?
Ever tried to learn another language?
I’ve done that too.
Ever done something so crazy, so extreme, so fantastically different, that the whole time your head is telling you, “This is insane. I’m insane. What was I thinking?” your heart is saying, “This is the most brilliant thing I’ve ever done. Bring on the adventure!”
Well, I’m proud to say that as of six days ago, I can tick that box as well. Last Thursday I left my country, comfort zone and my head back in Adelaide, Australia and flew two days and an ocean away to France for a many-month long cultural exchange program that will leave me worldly, bilingual and even more clinically insanerer than I have been for the past fifteen-and-a-half years.
I’m guessing the majority of people won’t have committed to spend almost a year of their lives in a different family, school and culture 16,454.3kms from everything familiar (not that I’m complaining, because I’d never have signed up if I wasn’t totally sure I could handle it), so those people please note: it is not for the fainthearted. It can mean hard work, embarrassment, people talking to you like you’re four years old (literally), teachers who don’t speak your language putting you on the spot in class, constant headaches, feeling tired all the time, and feeling like you’re totally useless in the world; but the positives outweigh the negatives a million times over. I know that after only four days here, and it’s only gonna get better.
I’ve been lucky enough to be placed with a good family: they’re kind, generous and willing to help me learn. They’re fixing up a French farmhouse amongst plenty of horse pastures. There’s a cornfield, a river and a tiny bit of forest just down the road. And they have those fantastic taps which come on when you wave your hands underneath them (I had a lot of fun with those). I go to a good school with my host brother and sister, my teachers are, for the most part, very helpful and don’t expect too much, and my classmates are friendly (and very, very funny when they try to speak English).
The food here is amazing: I had my first croissant a couple of days ago with homemade redcurrant & raspberry jam and coffee for breakfast and I think I died a little bit. Cheese is a separate course here, eaten after dinner, and that in itself has been an adventure – a thoroughly enjoyable one. French cheese… yum.
All in all, I’m pretty sure I’m the luckiest damn person on the planet.
These next months will be difficult, exhausting, and quite possibly the best of my life.
So I say to all you people in the world doing the same things you’ve done for however long you’ve done them…
Bring on the adventure!