With less than three weeks left of the program, the celebration of Thanksgiving became a bittersweet occasion. On the one hand, it was a great experience to come together and cook, and celebrate the things we are thankful for. On the other hand, it symbolizes the end of the program, a return to our homes overseas, and leaving behind our lives in France.
France has been good to me. My French has improved immensely, I’ve met so many wonderful families, formed stronger friendships with the other Earlham students, eaten my weight in cheese, and learned a lot about myself. From my time in Nantes I learned how much French I actually knew, (which was a lot more than I had expected). In the South, I learned that it is possible to make your avocation your vocation. Reflecting on my experiences in Paris, I feel that I have learned the most about myself here: what I am capable of, what I fear, and, most importantly, how to deal with and accept change. Change is a huge part of this program. You know that it will be different, but no one can truly understand what they will be feeling until they’re right in the middle of it. For me, it didn’t fully hit me that I was in another country until about six weeks ago when I was already seven weeks into the program.
To bring these two ideas together, I would like to say that although I was in a different country, surrounded by people speaking a different language, with different ways of seeing the world and smaller showers and refrigerators, the Earlham group has always been my constant throughout this entire experience. I was always certain that I had someone to talk to when I missed home, someone to spend time with when I was lonely, a group of people that I consider to be my home away from home. And in the tradition of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for this opportunity and so blessed to be surrounded with so many amazing, sincere, and truly beautiful people.
– Chloé Woodard