What is France?

I’ve been in the United States for nearly a month now. I started my internship three weeks ago and I love it. However, there are certain things that are different about life in the United States. In the United States, I can get a glass of water in a restaurant for free (without buying any other item). Bathrooms are free. Time is different (in France, it is okay to arrive late, but in the US, it is a cultural taboo). I can’t get into bars to spend time with friends because I am not 21 (even though I do not drink alcohol). Everything is bigger (especially my dorm room). Most importantly: everything is in English.

 

After months of a foreign language, English is almost foreign to me. I’m surrounded by it. I can use it at the store. I can use it to order food at a restaurant. I have to remember all of these social constructs (“hello” vs. “bonjour”). I constantly run into people and say, “pardon, monsieur,” instead of “excuse me, sir.” However, I am not totally without French. I am still working on reading the Harry Potter series in French. I saw a sign for a “patisserie” the other day and wondered why the signs next to it were in English (until I remembered that I was in the United States). On the bright side, I no longer have to use French to communicate with my French bank now that I closed my bank account.

 

There are days when I miss France. There are days when I’m glad to be in the United States. Every day, I am thankful for the time I spent in France. For years, I had dreamed of going to France. Now that I have returned to the United States, I have started to reflect on my time in France.

 

To fulfill the requirements for my Honors College, I have finished a final reflective project. It is a film called, “What is France?” In this film, I asked international students and French students to tell me about stereotypes of France and their experiences with France. Their voices give another perspective of France. I must really thank them for giving me their time and lending their voice to this important project. Many of them are not native speakers of English. It took courage to do this project in another language and to give me some great ideas to think about. The final part of the film talks about my experience in France. I think that, after reading all of my blog entries, you might enjoy seeing my experience in France in a whole new way.

 

I am particularly proud of this video because it serves as a reminder. When I was a little girl, I learned of a world beyond my own. I learned about a country called France. After years of telling people that I would one day go to France, I have finally gone to France. I survived (and even thrived) living in a foreign country for five months.

 

Here is the link to my final project, “What is France?”, on YouTube.

Wow. What a journey, right? I’ll never forget the stories I lived or the people I met along the way. Unfortunately, all journeys must come to an end. This is the end of my journey. This is my final blog entry.

 

Perhaps, one day, I will gain Neptune’s favor again and perhaps he will lead me once again to France or to…

 

Happy Travels,

Kellene O’Hara

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