So after four months in France, I have finally returned to Minnesota in time to celebrate Christmas with my family and have a nice relaxing break before school starts up again!
Upon returning I expected some reverse culture shock, and I certainly did experience a little bit. Basically for me this meant reexamining everything that had become so commonplace for the first 21 years of my life. After being removed from the United States culture for four months, the one thing that really stuck out to me upon return was the absolute hugeness of everything. For example, during my first time back in a Target store I was absolutely overwhelmed by the massive amount of space because everything in France was packed into teeny tiny little buildings and the supermarket was there about 1/40th the size of a Target. For me, I felt like this new awareness allowed me to truly understand culture here in the United States.
Another difficult aspect for me was adapting back to my life here in Minnesota because while in France with my host family I followed a different schedule and pace, and my life here seemed so incredibly frantic when compared with that. I also found myself starting to speak French at times and then realizing that it wasn't necessary just to go to the post office or order a burger. It was especially hard for me because speaking French all the time was something that I dearly loved doing...but I must say that it is nice to be able to speak without thinking about what I have to say before I say it.
Before leaving for France, I thought it was strange when people would tell me that everything would appear to be different when I came back to Minnesota, and I think that's one of those things that you can't completely grasp until you actually undergo traveling for a long time. It changes you...as cliche as that may sound...coming back from study abroad adds a whole new way to approach school, work, and the world in general. I think this is one of the major reasons companies look so favorably at candidates who have had the chance to travel throughout the world. We study-abroaders bring something unique to the table. :)
So as I embark upon my last semester at Carlson, I can't wait to see the realization of my dreams and goals when I graduate in May. For me, a big part of my experience at Carlson will always be my time in France which will always be thought of fondly in the beauty of the French language, the taste of pain au chocolat, the people I met, and those memories which I will carry with me forever.