With all things in life, we come across this word:
“What does it mean?” “Why does it make our head hurt?” “Why are we feeling so stressed out and helpless?”
It’s soooooo good but it feels so bad. And, it’s something you can’t avoid. Going to a new school and living in another country has been the perfect environment for breeding challenges. However like all others, getting through them with a positive attitude will be sure to give you that level up.
It’s always good to ask for help. Help comes in many forms and even by having someone listen to you will release some of the stress. So, I guess this is the right plug-in for the challenges I’ve conquered or still face from the past few days.
“I’m in France…and I can’t even speak French properly. I SWEAR I CAN READ & WRITE….I just don’t know why my brain starts messing around once I start speaking….I SWEAR I CAN DO GRAMMAR EXERCISES! I’M THE BOMB AT THEM. SO, can you please speak English?”
As someone who has gone through the core French system, I have always prided myself in grammar. Yet at the slight scent of comprehension and oral, I would shy away. Somehow the relationship between grammar exercises and oral skills never connected and that was the end of it. It’s hard to communicate with ease and confidence when phrases go over your head and incoherent mumbly sounds come out of your mouth. BUT, don’t let this get to your head. As long as people see that you are trying, they’ll be willing to try and help out with the few English words they know. When I was traveling through the South of France with my family, they relied on me to be their communicator which forced me to use whatever French skills I had. Surprisingly, everyone that I encountered where more than happy to speak with someone who was trying to learn their language. There was a kid and his mom who would have continued our conversation all day if I hadn’t told them that we were in a rush to get to the next town. Bottom-line: JUST DO IT.
Extra tip: don’t translate, instead use what you know to communicate.
“Will I make friends? Will they like me?”
No matter how cliche this is, rule of thumb: be yourself. Except I’m going to also add: be flexible. Yes, it’s good to do stretches but you’ve also got to learn and practice stretching yourself as a person. Wait…this is getting confusing! What I mean is that you’ve got to be honest with people but also be able to be open-minded. It’s the act of balancing how you want to be known and who you are as a person. Keep in mind that a friend doesn’t appear instantly, those are acquaintances. Friends take time and experience so don’t be in a rush!
Extra tip: Go to the Laundromat. I seem to be making all my friends there…but really, don’t be afraid to say “bonjour!”
“Wait, I have to fill this out? Oh, I actually missed the placement test and class starts tomorrow?! So where did I put that form? WHERE IS THIS PLACE? I don’t even know what I’m doing…And, now I’m lost. Officially lost.”
In whatever circumstance, it’s always good to be organized whether it be writing down dates in a notebook or having a place for a certain thing. At the same time, things don’t always go the way you want or plan it to be. Things happen. So, be positive! Maybe, you’ll encounter a new friend or maybe a new place to grab coffee? That’s life – it’s not linear. Just remember that it’s always okay to ask questions. There is never a stupid question and it’ll help you avoid assuming things. As I’ve mentioned before, there is a load of paperwork in France…I could probably fill up a bathtub with all the forms that I need to do. Don’t just sit in a chair and glare at them (not saying that I did…) because they won’t disappear. The only thing you can do is to make it easier for yourself. For example, completing with other exchange students or asking a francophone friend to help translate. Also, you don’t have to go at it in one go. Make sure to take a few breaks and maybe a Kit Kat. The point is: think of a solution (and often times, there isn’t just one)!
Extra tip: It’s always good to find ways to release stress…for me, it’s food. I decided to make a simple dinner of spaghetti with avocado pesto and a broccoli salad recipe that my roomie suggested. Recipes follow below!
It was indeed a very green dinner.
Broccoli with Lime & Salt
My roomie recommended this recipe his mother use to make all the time back at home. He then continued to wonder why she ever stopped making it…so we made it for dinner. It’s quick and easy with only 3 ingredients…and you just have to put them together. (serves 2-4)
1 broccoli head
salt for seasoning
Wash and cut the broccoli and place it on a plate or in a bowl.
Squeeze the lime evenly over the broccoli and lightly sprinkle a bit salt for taste.
Spaghetti with Avocado Pesto
(adapted from Chef Chloe and A Cozy Kitchen) I’m a huge recipe/food blog follower so having a kitchen and having to cook for myself, has given me this opportunity to try all the recipes I’ve been waiting to try. So, I decided to start with something simple and healthy using ingredients at hand…we had a very large stock of avocados and a new jar of pesto (because I love pesto). Why not put the 2 together? (serves 2-4)
1 1/2 avocados (I would have used the other 1/2 but it seemed a bit too much; feel free to change this to 2)
1 tbsp pesto
1 clove of garlic minced (optional)
salt for seasoning
Cook spaghetti accordingly to the package. Once cooked, drain and rinse with cool water.
In a bowl, mash the avocado to desired texture. Squeeze the lime, add the pesto, garlic, salt, and mix thoroughly. Taste and then add more accordingly.
Toss the avocado pesto with the spaghetti until evenly coated.