Culture shock and the start of classes

Culture shock is something that is very familiar to me right now. I definitely felt it full-force in my first few days here, I would be trying to understand what my host family was telling me, and while I understand most everything I’d miss a little detail about their house rules or practices and do something wrong. I’m very lucky, they’re all the sweetest people in the world and totally understanding but I don’t think anyone likes making mistakes! I felt a little helpless. Luckily, from each mistake I make I learn a lot. It’s difficult to constantly live outside of my comfort zone, but that’s something I’ve always worked on as someone who can worry a lot about stupid things. I think this program is great for me in that sense, perhaps more so than even learning French or understanding another culture!

It comes in waves here. I’ll settle into a routine with something- be it taking the train, ordering food, etc. and then I’ll have something new to conquer. This week it’s classes. They’ve started off well, but are certainly different from those back at the U. The college I’m attending here is very much an American-style school (co-created with Boston University), so I wasn’t expecting much difference. I’ve found that textbooks are cheaper (amazing!!!!) and there’s SO MUCH READING! Seriously. I’ll be reading my days away here. However, classes are very much exam-based with few assignments, which is more typically European. The grading scale is different as well, so everything will just be an adjustment! I’m trying to keep an open mind, and I’m lucky in that my professors all seem very interesting and I’m taking interesting classes.

I’m also lucky to have the sweetest dog at my homestay here. Elly is a rottweiler who is all bark and no bite. While she may seem vicious if they doorbell rings and she barks, she’s a total softie and it’s a great comfort to pet her! My host brother, Julien, has a girlfriend who comes over a lot, and she also has a dog– a tiny chihuahua named Sachi. Together, the dogs are quite the sight with their vastly different sizes, but they’re best friends and love to play together. One of my favorite things is to come downstairs in the morning and see them both sleeping in the kitchen!

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