In January of this year, I went to an international boarding school near Paris, in France. I was petrified to go alone, so I convinced one of my closest friends to come with me. She did. Naturally, I had never spent so much time with friends instead of my family and I feared I might become tired of it and the experience altogether, and develop this desire to come back home to Peru. I did.
The first week was disastrous. If I ever hear “filles, elevent, filles, elevent” one more time in my life I would probably laugh and cry. This means “girls wake up”, and it was shouted at us everyday (except on weekends) at 6:45 am. If it weren’t for the mexican girls in our rooms who brought us “takis” for breakfast, I would have collapsed from the jet-lag, the cold and the 4 daily hours of french instantly. We shared our room with 6 other girls that came from all around the world: Congo, Ireland, Mexico and even France. Some of them were staying for a year, others had always studied there, while we were just staying for a month.
A month may seem like a lot of time, especially in summer, but it passed away incredibly quickly. When we went to Paris with the group of students that were also staying for a month, and visited all the monuments such as La Tour Eiffel, Champs-Elysées, and L´arc de Triomphe like typical tourists. However, my favourite part was free-time. In free-time, you were able to do anything you wanted. You could either sit in a cafe facing La Tour Eiffel pretending to be in a movie, or you could spend 40 euros (a lot of money, we learned that) paying for a taxi to take you to a Brandy Melville store kilometres away, or just walk through random streets following the sun. Anything. You. Wanted. This became special to me, as even in Peru I am not allowed to go anywhere with such freedom: with friends from different cultures and ways of doing tourism. For instance, most of the peruvians in my group went to shops like Forever21 and H&M, but the japanese in our group went to Louis Vuitton and other luxurious shops. Even when we went to Louis Vuitton with him and tried not to laugh by the sole fact that we were there, we shared an experience. These types of funny experiences were abundant and repeated throughout the trip.
Now, the real question: Did i learn french? I would say I did. Not in the way of learning new ways to conjugate verbs in the past tense, but in the sense of learning daily communication. When we were talking to the lady who drove the taxi, we were able to sustain a decent conversation, but more importantly, tell her where we wanted to go.
Finally and most importantly: Would I recommend the experience of going abroad for a month? Yes. Without a doubt. Although the first week was terrible and I missed enough dishes of potential arroz chaufa, you learn new ways of living from people around the world and maintain friendships with them. Just imagine spending 1/12 of your year living in another city! Sounds bold and scary but different. Change is good.