Describing my first few days in my strange new land, I used words like perfect, divine, delicious, exquisite, unbelievable, extraordinary! When out at my first Paris nightclub, enjoying VIP access, I declared to my roommate: “I never want to leave Paris!”
Is this really how I felt? Or is this just the obligatory “honeymoon” phase? Everything is peachy and perfect and no rain will ever fall. Everything will fit right into place, and even if it doesn’t, people will always be smiling and music will always be playing and the sun will always be shining. It really did feel like this was a paid- for, college-crediting vacation, so why not attend a few classes in between croissant and nightclubs?
Everything is new, fresh, exciting, breathtaking. Everyone at home tells me how jealous they are, how much I should live it up and enjoy every moment because it’s sure to fly by.
My lack of French is adorable- people will make allowances for me. They’ll track down some sweet English-speaking associate to take care of whatever I need. I’ll understand and be able to communicate soon enough. I’ll figure it out. Everyone will love me.
Honeymoons never last forever. As I was so sweetly and optimistically told in my mandatory Study Abroad Student Pre-Departure Seminar during the last week of the Spring semester. I was forced to listen, in great detail, in a sweltering hot auditorium room , on a gorgeous April Friday, to the perils of traveling abroad.
Yes, I know, don’t put my passport in my checked luggage. Thank you so much for telling me! What would I have done without this?
Yes, I know, don’t take drugs from people I don’t know. But it is okay to take drugs from people I do know? Oh, ok, that wasn’t clear.
Yes, I know, make the most of it. If one more person tells me to make the most of it, I’m going to explode- I get it, okay? I’m paying through the teeth for this opportunity, so thank you, I plan on making the most of it!
This panel of middle aged professors each took their turn hearing themselves speak, talking to us for the ninety-nineth time about foreign health insurance, housing when we return to campus, the time differences around the globe, how to pack lightly (seriously?!) and other mundane idiotic advice.
They told us we would experience a “honeymoon” phase, where everything is bright and bubbly and beautiful, followed quickly by a “hostility” phase where we backlash against the new and different, and become frustrated when things aren’t as we are used to. Hmm. Maybe they were right about something.