Through the rigorous selection process and several orientations, Rotary does its best to prepare the outbound students for the rollercoaster of emotions that they’ll face during their year abroad.
They told us about the inevitable crash of emotions around the holidays that we’d all face in some way or another, but also explained that it was very normal, and promised that it would pass. As December approached, there was nothing I could do except just brace myself and wait it out.
I remember how my stomach did backflips the first time I saw a holiday window display early on in December. While every other year this would have made me ecstatic, this year, all I could think about was being so far away from all the people that I love most on Christmas. For a few days, I got myself into a little emotional rut that I couldn’t seem to get myself out of. Although I was sad and missing home I reminded myself once again that I was in France. I had worked so hard to get here and that I couldn’t let any moment go to waste. From that moment on, I tried to not focus on all that I was missing out on back home, but focusing on experiencing how people from another part of the world celebrated one of the best times of the year.
In the middle of December I was able to travel to Bourges, a town about an hour away, for my third Rotary orientation with all of the other inbound students in my district. We all made a Christmas dessert from our country, and sang Christmas carols from back home. Together we visited the famous and beautiful cathedral of the town, as well as the local Christmas market.