Tuesday, 9 April 2013
Nearly a year on..
Here in Grenoble we have the grand total of 2 weeks before the end of semester and therefore before the end of teaching for this year. I have no idea where this first year has gone but I find it very weird to be approaching summer again and counting down the weeks until I'm back in rainy old Blighty.
As it's the end of the first year (as long as I pass my exams in mid May!) I thought it would be a good idea to reflect on how this year has gone, the good, the bad and the plain ugly.
This time 2 years ago, I was frantically cramming in revision for my IB exams and looking forward to the end of the worst (academically speaking) year of my life. Everyone can yadder on about how the IB is great for time management, how it sets you up for university and how it teaches you to be 'broad-minded' and 'reflective' but I still maintain my opinion: it was royal pain-in-the-backside. Anyway, back on topic.. a year ago, I was heading towards the finish line of the best 5 months in la Plagne and I was pondering what this next year would bring. Had you told me at 18 that by 20 I'd sitting in my own French flat in the south east of France, speaking French every day of the week and skiing most weekends, I would have laughed. Even this time last year, I'd have been surprised. But what have I actually learnt this last year?
In the last year, I have learnt:
- how to be an adult. I think it's safe to say that I've had a pretty intense crash course in growing up. I've gone from the travelling the world without a care in the world, to having to work out what I'm supposed to do when my car refuses to move and I keep getting letters from my landlords saying that I'm about to be evicted.
-where the eco button is on my car and so I can avoid pushing it and can therefore avoid 'breaking down' ie. running out of gas when I also have a full tank of petrol..
- how to manage in a different country and in a different language. This has probably been the loneliest part of life here and something I only really realised last week. Learning to manage myself has been a massive learning curve. I've had to second guess the French authorities for nearly a year now and whilst my parents are always on the end of the phone, they're pretty useless (soz) as they neither understand or can teleport here in my hour of need. French offices can be the most frustrating places to be and queuing for hours on end by yourself is no fun, I have made a fair few friends in queues in the last few months though!! Sometimes a bit of moral support would definitely not go amiss..
- that the French say one thing and mean another. Deadlines do not apply here but imaginary deadlines will then appear a week or so after the original deadline. Moral of the story: always be prepared for the first deadline!
- how to create a life. I can't believe how far I've come, from the first night here by myself to now having a life and almost too many things to do. I don't really remember how I felt when my parents first left me in September, I seem to remember trying not to think about it too much. People, who this time last year, didn't exist to me, now take up a huge part of my life and I'm so glad I met them.
- that homesickness really does exist. And not even just homesickness for your home and your family, but homesickness for your home country, your native language and your culture. I never thought I'd ever be proud to be British or that I'd miss our weird and wacky culture and our weather, but oh my, I do. I have weeks (at the moment I'm using the 'one week a month' theory which is when I want to go home on and off for about a week every month or so) where I wish I was back in England, that I could walk into an office and solve my problem straight away, that I could go to Tesco's and pick up some Dairy Milk, that I could moan about how it has rained for the last 7 days or I could sort something out over the Internet. I have weekends when I look at people's suitcases in envy, wishing it was me who was going home for the weekend in order to eat some nice food and have a hug from my Momma. But then, there are other weeks when I remember how lucky I am, the sun is shining, the snow capped mountains are surrounding Grenoble and I'm about to head off for a weekend of skiing.. such is life!
- that it really is the little achievements that make all the difference. I never realised how much my mood can change when I manage to achieve the smallest things. Walking out of an office, clutching a number made me beam for at least 2 days, just passing my first semester made me want to skip and seeing my pay cheque go into my bank account made me cheer. Likewise though, the smallest disappointments have often been all the more difficult and more than once I have cried out of pure frustration.
- that a bicycle tyre is a pain-in-the-backside to change and that car oil dipsticks are notoriously hard to find.
- that I was more stupid than brave when I concocted this plan to come to university in France. When I first told people my plans, and actually even now, the first reaction is always 'wow! You must be really brave!' Looking back, I never gave too much thought into what I was doing. Back in January, when I was at home for a week, this came up with my parents, we all agreed that had I known how difficult this would be, I would have run away screaming. I have climbed serious mountains to get where I am right now, but that shouldn't discourage anyone. On the contrary, hopefully it shows people that it can be done..!
- that if I were to die tomorrow, I can be truly proud of what I have achieved in the last 2 years.
- that living away from your parents makes you appreciate them all the more. My parents put up with so much of my rubbish that I'm surprised they still pick up when I call them.
- that academics is a good idea and it's good to have a piece of paper with qualifications on it, but life is about enjoyment. So rather than finishing that essay of yours, go out and have fun. As Steve Jobs preached, your heart knows already what is going to happen to you, so follow it, it'll turn out for the best.
- that if you want to conquer the world, become an astronaut or simply find a good job, anything is possible.
I'm homebound in 2 weeks, followed by a week of exams then HOLIIIIDAYS! Hopefully I'll get to catch up with some people when I'm home this summer.. :)