It is hard when your expectations don't meet your reality.
I mean Lyon was amazing. I spent three days getting to know the city and endless hours walking it's streets with some cool people, just taking in it's beauty. I feel in love with Lyon.
Then we came to Grenoble, and I liked it right away. I knew it had potential to be really great. We stayed in a great hotel and had fun walking around. We ate at this tiny Kebab place that blew my mind. And then we spent time looking at the mountains. One day I will just do a post about these mountains. We toured Grenoble with our program director, who is the sweetest woman I have ever met. She seriously could not do more of a fantastic job. Then we got to meet our host families.
My family is so extremely nice. There is a dad, a mom, and two daughters (19 and 16). They have two older brothers but they are at college. There is also a dog named Despé. He only speaks French. They live in this large, old house in La Tronche, 20 minutes away from downtown by walk/tram. I have a huge bedroom but I have nothing to put in it which is funny.
Adjusting to a host family is really hard, especially when I don't know the language as well as I want to. I mean I can't carry on a long conversation with them. I can ask questions and answer some but... I guess that is the whole reason I am here right? The thing is I don't talk with them as much as I would like. It is so awkward knowing what to do with yourself when you are at someone else's house. I mean I eat breakfast and dinner with them but after meals I don't know what to do. Should I hang out? Should I go to my room? They haven't invited me to hang out and I am not sure if I should ask. So I kind of hide in my room with my door open like it's freshman year of college all over again. I asked the kids in my group and they are going through the same thing. None of us knows what to do... But it is nice that we are all awkward together.
Also the bathroom situation cracks me up. I have a sink in my room, the shower is next door, and the toilet is down the hall. My first morning here I had to use all three, in that order and I almost laughed at the French-ness of it.
The weather! It is really, really cold here. Like leggings-under-my-jeans cold. I definitely need to buy some more warm clothes. I didn't plan for this... Good thing that next week are "the sales". It is like the French version of Black Friday, but it lasts for a month. I will be buying jeans, sweaters, and long shirts.
Class is okay for now. It gives me something to do, and I love Maria (she was our professor at Seattle, who came over to help us cram and teach grammar in the mornings). But I have a huge placement exam coming up on the 16th. I have to score high enough on it to make it to the level that will allow me to complete my major. If I don't make it then I might as well back my bags and go home. I am so nervous I could throw up.
Homesickness is the worst. I hate knowing that if I were back home right now I would know what to do with myself and I would not be as stressed as I am here. I miss my family and friends and my dog. Sometimes so much it hurts. But then I send them an email and I feel better. Besides I only have six months here to learn a language. I need to get crackin'. I am considering joining a VSArt group, which works with art and the elderly, helping out at a local elementary school, and perhaps taking a cooking class. I know that if I stay busy I will not be so homesick. I think more programs need to make sure that students are really busy when they are adjusting, because time to think is not always a good thing.
I am complaining a lot. And I am, but that is just because it is a huge adjustment for me, I am sure in a month from now I will be raving about it. But this immersion is harder than it sounds. I am jealous of people who get to go abroad and still speak their native language. I just have to remember that I will grow from this experience and that by the end of this I am sure I will come out with so many great memories.
"Our trails are not meant to break us; they are meant to make us."I just wish I knew more French. I wish that I would have had another year. But I don't think I would have ever been ready enough to live in France. I will just try my best to become conversational. That is all I can do. And I know I can do it. I just need to start with finding my own little café and studying.
Grenoble has so much potential.