As of October 22, I’m halfway through Everyone told me this semester would go by quickly. It has, and I’ve had such a crazy amazing time seeing Paris and traveling around, but to be honest, it’s also been one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced. I’m a bit burnt out when it comes to school, and all I want is to not have to stress about tests and presentations and be able to take advantage of the city I’m in. That being said, this has been the most incredible learning experience and every day is a new adventure. As hard as certain hurdles can be, I truly believe that coming to Sciences Po, where I take all my courses in French, some of which are far more difficult than others, and trying to balance this with seeing Paris and many other places in Europe, was the most exciting and productive way I could have chosen to spend the semester.
The language thing is what I tend to blame all my stress on. I really don’r think my classes are that much more difficult than those that I take at Tulane, but when I start every assignment or project, it seems pretty impossible in the beginning. I have never aimed for mediocre, but here, I have found that I’m just trying to pass certain courses, because getting an A just isn’t worth all the pressure. You know the classes are hard when a 14/20 still translates into an A, and I’m just thankful that this semester won’t be factored into my GPA.
That being said, sitting in class and presenting certain subjects myself has made the strongest impact of my French language skills. Ordering dinner in French is nothing compared to debating current events and studying French Constitutional Law (in French, of course). School is definitely more difficult because of this, but I’m almost (just almost) thankful that I didn’t have a choice.
After following other people’s abroad experiences, I think I expected to be traveling more and studying much less. Let’s just say that not everyone goes to “The Harvard of France” and most people seem to use the semester as a kind of break from school. The FOMO can be real as I’m google translating transcribed lectures and making powerpoint after powerpoint. When I do have a chill weekend, I find myself wanting to relax in Paris and hit some spots on my bucket list more than anything. Traveling can be stressful… I don’t always look forward to my trips as much I had anticipated, though once I get there, i find myself thriving as I explore and try new things. It’s definitely been a difficult balance, but when it’s right, I’m able to be productive with schoolwork and learning French while also living in the moment and getting to know new cultures with new and old friends.
I’m over halfway through my time here, but I am confident that the next two months will be full of even more travel, exploring, laughter, excitement, and bonding with people than the first two. Yes, there will be plenty of stress and schoolwork as well, but as long as I keep things in perspective and recognize what an insane opportunity it is, I’m sure that I’ll be able to make the most out of the time I have left here.
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