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.