During the Spring Semester of 2019, in my Sophomore year, I studied abroad at Universite Clermont Auvergne in Clermont-Ferrand, France, through one of OU’s university exchange programs.
Through this experience, I was immersed in the French language and culture. I got to speak French every day in this foreign culture, mainly learning from mistakes. Completely outside of my comfort zone, I communicated in my bad French in attending class, figuring out the logistics of my living situation, and going to the grocery store. But in learning from my mistakes, I felt empowered in knowing that I could navigate France.
Additionally, I was away from my parents for the first time in my life and American culture. All my life, I figured that studying abroad would be no different than my childhood when I moved every three years. I didn’t take into account that studying abroad removes you from your support system– your family and friends. So, I did experience homesickness at times. But with time, that homesickness passed.
Instead of avoiding being alone, I embraced it. I lived alone in the student dorms and used my Spring Break to solo travel to Nice, France, and Geneva, Switzerland. Additionally, I went to several ERASMUS events and met some of my best friends there. These situations again placed me outside of my comfort zone and showed me that I was capable of doing things on my own. And that in and of itself is a liberating feeling. Ultimately, I grew as a person because I was constantly living outside of my comfort zone, and I couldn’t be gladder.