I truly cannot believe how much I have learned within the first few weeks of living in France. I knew it would be different and was ready to face the change, but it still felt different from what I expected. I am so glad that I did the bulk of the work before I left. In the months and weeks leading up to my flight abroad, I did so much research on my own that has helped me so much along the way. When the day of my flight came I was calm and ready. It definitely took a few days to adjust to the 7 hour time difference, and a few more to get a hang of the new culture but now I love it here.
My initial impressions of France, and more specifically Strasbourg, were very positive. I felt safe my first night and have loved walking and using public transportation to get around the city. I will say however that arriving on New Year’s Eve was a little rough. Here in France, holidays are for resting and most businesses were closed the Saturday of New Years Day. We also learned that all businesses are closed on Sunday. This was the hardest part of our journey. We had to wait two days before going to the grocery store and Ikea, which is very different from stopping at HEB at any hour of the day. But once I had the essentials I felt like I could start exploring the city.
Orientation for school was held in this amazing building that reminded me a lot of the museums and government buildings I had visited in Washington D.C. We were with the entire international cohort. Hearing the mix of languages and cultures was so impactful and continues to be every day here. Later that day we toured the school! I was so excited. I had looked up the school on Google Images nearly 100 times but now I was here! It was very unique and most of the classrooms had huge windows. The library was bright and there was even a cafeteria in the middle (I think Wehner would benefit from a few of these additions). And to add to the magic, it started snowing while we were outside the school. On the walls are maps and arrows guiding you to the right area and have found that is all I need to know to get around the school. The business school is part of a larger school that compares to the size of A&M (60,000+ students).
Overall, I have loved taking part in French life and culture. Here, rest is valued and things seem to move at a slower pace. At restaurants, you have to ask for the bill and you are never rushed out of places. Classes are 3 hours long, but only once a week and so far I have liked this approach! Not all classes start the same week and it feels way more approachable to start this new semester. I cannot wait to learn even more about France as I travel and work on learning the language here. My mindset has already expanded so much and cannot wait to absorb even more just by being here!