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“The magic thing about home is that it feels good to leave, and it feels even better to come back”

After being home for two weeks, there are a lot of things I’ve had time to think about and to appreciate. While I was there I fell in love with France and the way of life there, I rethought many of the “norms” of my life here in the US, but something I didn’t really expect was that I came to appreciate things about home that before I had taken for granted.

Of all the places I visited while in France (Nice, Avignon, Annecy, Paris, and Lyon), I can absolutely say that Lyon was my favorite. Everywhere else I went was beautiful, but by the time I left Lyon, it had started to feel like home. So many things in France were so different from the things I was used to, and I think going on this trip has helped me to grow as a person in many ways.

Living in a country where the primary language is not your first language is, in my opinion, an extremely humbling experience. While I have gained a lot of confidence in myself from this trip, I’ve also gained an even greater respect for the people who I encounter for whom English isn’t their first language but live in a country surrounded by English speakers and who do their best to learn and speak the language. People in America treat people that have accents or speak imperfect English so differently than I was treated in France. I can’t imagine the struggle that people go through in America when they are trying their best to speak and learn English and still people treat them as less because of an accent. When I was in France the people were so nice and helpful when I would do my best to speak French. I know I have an accent and that my French is not perfect but the people in France made me feel like I could keep trying and encouraged me. I wish people were like that in America with people learning English.

Stepping outside of my comfort zone really made me realize a lot about myself and the people around me, as well as the world. Before this trip I didn’t really like doing things alone, I felt uncomfortable going and doing things on my own and would let that stop me from doing things I wanted to do. Now I feel a lot more comfortable doing things by myself for myself. I think after traveling to another country by myself it put other things in perspective, it also made me decide that I wasn’t going to miss out on any more opportunities just because I would have to be by myself.

I know many people want to travel and study abroad and I can’t say how much I recommend it. It might be cliché but it truly was a life-changing experience for me and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Lyon will always have a place in my heart.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité!


Sydney Serrano is a freshman studying Psychology and French at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Sydney will spend the summer abroad with the UMKC French Summer Program in Lyon, France. Sydney is a member of Alternative Spring Break and Pride Alliance at the University of Missouri Kansas.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Fill Your Life With Adventures…

It is unbelievable to me that I am already done with my six-week program in Lyon.

I feel simultaneously as if I just got here, and as if I have been here for a long, long time. There are so many things that I love about this city, and yet at the same time so much that I miss about home, the duality of life is more evident to me now than ever. I am sad to leave my new friends, this beautiful country, my lovely host family, and the many things I have come to love about this country, but I am also so happy that soon I will be home, able to see my dog and my brothers again, to be able to go get food at any time of day, to be able to eat my families homemade food and also tofu again (oddly enough, there is not a lot of tofu here). But it feels right, this balance of happy and sad, it makes me believe that I have found a decent balance while here.

While I will only have been in France for six weeks, I will have been to Nice, Annecy, Avignon, and Paris, that is amazing! I think everyone should, at some point in their life if they are given the opportunity, travel to another country and learn about the way other people live. Living in another country, even for as short of a time as I have, has opened my eyes to so many things. Learning to navigate within the social norms of another culture is both amazing and scary.

A quote that I believe to be entirely true is this: “Fill your life with adventures, not things. Have stories to tell not stuff to show”. This could not be more true, exploring the city and meeting new people, saying yes to things I would most likely have said no to at home, and just trying to make the most of my time here in France has been so much better than any material thing could be. I would much prefer to go to a concert somewhere or just wander the city finding new things than I would go shopping, I would much rather spend less money on stuff so I can instead spend it to go on an adventure to somewhere new or afford to have a new experience. I also believe that one of the most amazing parts of traveling, for me at least, has been the people that one meets while traveling. I have met the most amazing people from this trip, people I would never have met otherwise, people from other parts of the United States, and people from many other countries. Meeting such a variety of people has opened my mind even more than just being in another country has, other students and I compared the things we are used to from our countries and cultures with the things that are normal here in France, and in doing this I got to learn differences not just between US culture and French culture, but also US culture and the culture of many other countries. Meeting these many new people also means that there are bound to be people with many different thoughts and opinions, this was very true for this trip and that was a learning experience for me as well. I feel that I learned much, much more from just living in Lyon and living with a host family than I did from my classes because, in reality, life and language don’t work like the classroom. Learning a language in the classroom is so unbelievably different than actually using that language and learning the way it really works and the way it is used by native speakers.

I can truly say that this trip has changed my life. I have made friends that I will doubtless keep in touch with, pushed myself outside of my comfort zone time and time again, experienced a whole new country and a whole new way of life, and I know that Lyon, as well as the people in it and the people I met here,  will always have a piece of my heart.


Sydney Serrano is a freshman studying Psychology and French at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Sydney will spend the summer abroad with the UMKC French Summer Program in Lyon, France. Sydney is a member of Alternative Spring Break and Pride Alliance at the University of Missouri Kansas.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

“This Wasn’t a Strange Place; It Was a New One”

The quote in this title is from Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist, a book about traveling, learning new things and discovering who you’re meant to be and what you’re meant to do.

While I can’t say I’ve figured everything out like the main character of the story, I can say that I feel that even just in the last two weeks I have expanded my way of thinking and come to appreciate the things in my life in an entirely different way.

This has been the last 2 weeks for me, just the most beautiful, photo-worthy moments of course, not the struggles getting there, the confusion of being in a new place, or how gross I looked after our class walked all over the city in the heat and humidity!

Anthony Bourdain said, “If you’re… hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them wherever you go” and that is the plan, over the next four weeks, in addition to being in Lyon I am going to visit Nice, Avignon, and Annecy!

Here is to always striving to be better than we are because, “… when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too” and maybe if we all strive to be the best we can be, we can change the world for the better.


Sydney Serrano is a freshman studying Psychology and French at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Sydney will spend the summer abroad with the UMKC French Summer Program in Lyon, France. Sydney is a member of Alternative Spring Break and Pride Alliance at the University of Missouri Kansas.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

Let’s Go To Lyon!

14 Hours, 42 Minutes, 35 Seconds

As of my writing this post, that is the amount of time until I get on the first plane to start my Journey to Lyon France!

This trip will be a trip of a lot of firsts for me, first time flying alone, first time leaving the country, first being away from Kansas/Missouri for more than a week, and I am beyond excited for that, and yet none of it feels quite real yet. I think that it doesn’t really feel like I’m leaving yet because I don’t know what to expect.

So far to prepare for this trip I have made multiple packing lists, packed and repacked my bags at least twice, triple checked that I have everything I need,  and met up with friends and family in my hometown before coming back to Kansas City. Despite all of this preparation, and the amount of time I have spent thinking about this trip, I still can’t believe that it is actually happening. I have wanted to study abroad for as long as I can remember, and I never thought I would actually get the opportunity, and I am beyond grateful that I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to study in another country, especially a country as beautiful as France.

Two quotes that I have been thinking about a lot lately are:

To have another language is to possess a second soul.
‒Charlemagne

and

❝Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.❞‒Neale Donald Walsch

Having just finished my first year in college, I know that I have changed a lot in the last year, I have been trying my best to ensure that that is a positive change, working to make myself better in anyway I can, and a part of doing that has been challenging myself to go outside of my comfort zone. I think that Growth as well as Life begins at the end of one’s comfort zone. It is hard, maybe impossible, to grow as a person, to create better habits, to learn, and to be the best person you can be if you always stay with in your comfort zone, I know that this trip will push me out of my comfort zone, I will be flying alone to another country to stay with a host family in a country where English is not the primary language, I know I will not be able to prepare for and expect everything that I will experience, thats about as far outside of my comfort zone as I can  think to get! Not only will I be traveling to a foreign country alone for the first time, I will also be working to improve my language skills. I will be learning and practicing French in the best way possible; Immersion. This trip will give me a chance to grow my “second soul”, to improve my French, and to learn to connect with new people in a way I never have before; In another language.


Sydney Serrano is a freshman studying Psychology and French at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Sydney will spend the summer abroad with the UMKC French Summer Program in Lyon, France. Sydney is a member of Alternative Spring Break and Pride Alliance at the University of Missouri Kansas.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.