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Published: November 20th 2011
One of the things that studying abroad has taught me is that a lot of things seem like a big deal in the moment, but aren’t in the grand scheme of things. Right now my biggest headache is trying to figure out whether or not I’ll get credit for my classes that I’m taking here. And like most times that I worry about the future, I hear this one sermon from Grace Center in my head telling me to not expect bad things to happen all the time. I keep preparing myself for the inevitable worst where some credits won’t transfer over and I have to drop down to a French minor in order to graduate in May. It would suck, but is it the end of the world? Am I ever, ever going to use my French degree? Maybe. But maybe not. The fact of the matter is that I only have control of this moment, and if I’m choosing to let myself think about all of the things that could happen and all of the things maybe I should or should not have done, I’ll drive myself crazy. (Am I already driving you crazy?)
The reason I haven’t been writing here has a lot to do with stress. I’ve been so afraid to write a journal entry that’s honest, because a lot of studying abroad isn’t easy. Some days are horribly lonely. You sit in your little tiny room for hours at a time and wait for episodes of a television show to load while you bide your time on Facebook and see what your friends at home are doing without you. It’s difficult to feel fortunate for this experience at times when I’m worried about money and grades all the time, not to mention trying to navigate a world in a different language and fare well. Sometimes it feels like a mistake, if I’m being honest. Still, I didn’t want my experience to be below others expectations. Isn’t that silly? I’ve neglected to tell you guys anything because I’m afraid it might not be as good as you wanted it to be for me.
None of this is to say that this hasn’t been a rewarding experience in a lot of ways. I have no doubt that my comprehension and production levels in French have become a lot better since I came here. The constant practice with it is eventually going to pay off, and has already immediately paid off. The work I had to do to get here, stay here, and figure out France in general is going to be something that will change the way I view the world from here on out, I’m sure. I’m not going to be the same when I come back because of this experience. I’m going to be even radically more independent and have faith that I can concur anything. Heck, I fought French bureaucracy and I won! If nothing else, that’s a major victory for me or anyone in the human race, for that matter. This is something I worked for for years and I got it. In a sense, just being here is a victory in and of itself. No matter what happens later in life, I’m going to be alive and well and I’m going to be able to tell people that I studied abroad in France for three months because I created that reality
. Everything from here on out? I can do it.
This stream of consciousness began because I’m really stressed about a test and a presentation that I have due tomorrow. While at Belmont I usually stress about things way too much and everything ends up being fine, I somehow doubt that resolve in French school. I’ve never taken a test here and it’s in a class that I probably shouldn’t really be taking anyway. I’m trying though. I’m trying really hard! And I still feel like I constantly come up short here. At home, I usually put myself in a position where I feel subpar, but here I actually know without a doubt that I am. It’s not a paranoid “I could fail this,” it’s the helpless feeling that I’m definitely going to fail and there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m still trying, I’m still studying, but it’s still difficult.
So then my conclusion at the end of thinking about all the worst case scenarios that this test tomorrow could create is: so what? I need to stop letting negative thoughts cloud my rationalization of what God had in store for me later down the line. Because if a test or this class is going to determine my major and thus the rest of my life, then maybe that’s not a bad thing. Maybe failing something isn’t the worst case scenario. On the contrary, what if all of my worst case scenarios do come true and somehow lead me to the best thing that ever happened to me? Maybe I should stop assuming that life’s out to get me and just look at this as a journey. The ending isn’t completing a degree. If something goes wrong, the day is still going to end and I’m going to get a new one tomorrow. Life will figure itself out. Money will figure itself out. And so many people have it so much worse than just having to worry about passing or failing a class IN FRANCE. Sometimes it’s worth it to count your blessings. Maybe it’s oftentimes even worth it to count your blessings from what you think is a curse.
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