Appraising My Semester Abroad

Here we are: last week of school and last article of my journey writing for SDSU Be International. It has gone by so fast!

I am leaving full of memories, to give space for new international students that will come next semester. So, in order to sum up my journey here in this last article, I will give them a hint of what they should look forward in their semester abroad, from super legit to incongruous:

1. You’ll discover new places
And not only your new beloved home. But also its surroundings, and even more!As you explore, your appetite for exploring grows. As you learn about the culture of the city and its state, be curious and create and check off a bucket-list as you go. Then, do not postpone exploring: your life is now. You may be short on money, but you’ll find a way. Do not give credit to potential regrets. Give yourself no excuses and go hit the road!

2. You’ll improve your language skills.
That seems legit, but do not worry, it’s real: even in few months, you’ll improve your language skills super quickly! You will learn a lot of new words, new expressions.

Not especially the ones that you would have thought about (wink wink), but your vocabulary for sure will be greatly enhanced.

Do not follow my lazy lead though — please buy a little index notebook where you will be able to record all the words you learn as you go. I should have done that. So please, do not replicate my mistake!

3. You’ll meet new people
Yes, you will. But being able to make friends will require you to be flexible, observant and patient. Being in a foreign country is very scary, and you have to grapple and be a little bit ballsy to make it work in social interactions.

But, at the end of the day, you’re only here for a little time: so, take risks. Go talk to people. Ask to hang out to strangers. Maybe people will see you as a freak, but maybe they will eventually say yes. If you cannot talk very fluently, talk differently. Talk in music, talk in food, talk in movies. Find connections.

Give your love unconditionally, it will come back to you just as strong.

4. You’ll see all your fantasies destroyed
You had an idea of this country. An idea of its culture. But you cannot predict how you will react to its complexity while you’ll be actually there. You’ll expect things, and be disappointed. You’ll assume other things, and be surprisingly amazed.

But after all, all that matters is that your experience will be rich. Rich in discoveries, in emotions, and in difference.

5. You’ll find new ways to be happy
At home, you were comfortable like an oyster in its shell. But you had to go and eventually seek new horizons. You thought your habits were fine, you thought you knew how you could be happy. But in this new land of yours, life will open your mouth and sprinkle you with lemon juice, shaking your soul to its core and offering you new ways to be happy.

And the greatest part is that you’ll be never return as you were.

6. You’ll be closer to your relatives
You know what they say: “It’s when our loved ones leave that we realize that we loved them.” That will happen to you, but also to them. You’ll receive lovely messages and calls. People will check on you, in the more lovable manners. You’ll feel loved and that will boost your daily life in this scary foreign land.

7. You’ll better understand your own country
It sounds odd, but yes you will: because you will not help yourself but always compare your adopted country to your native one. As such, it will give you a better understanding of the framework in which you were raised. When you get some distance, you see things clearer, with a new perspective.You’ll see all the little things that you never noticed before and what makes, all in one, your country and its culture.

8. You’ll become more self-aware
You’ll be in a foreign land. All by yourself. There will be nothing familiar, nothing that you know: from people to brands, from language to culture, from usages to habits.Your only familiar and comfortable place will be … you.

You’ll be your only family, your only familiar element. But even if that sounds super scary, it is actually a real blessing.Throughout the days, you’ll realize that you’re constantly asking yourself questions, processing by yourself, trying to fit in this foreign world.You’ll accept things, refuse others. You’ll understand yourself better, through thick and thin. You’ll become more patient and tolerant to yourself.

At the end, you’ll realize how much you love yourself and are grateful to have chosen to go do this experience abroad.

So, I wish you all the best for your semester abroad. All the best is waiting for you, you just have to let yourself go and embrace it.

For my last words, I would like to thank Mike from Be International for giving me the opportunity to be part of this blog for few months. I would like to thank my professors for their kindness, their patience and their knowledge. And above all, I would like to thank all the friends I met here, especially my roommate and my “squad”: you’ve been there for me whatever the occasion was, and I will always cherish the love you’ve given me.

I wish everyone a wonderful winter break, merry holidays and an amazing new year!


Floriane Simondet is a graduate exchange student from France, majoring in business administration.

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