Senior year of high school my compass for choosing universities was always spinning. Each day I was talking my mom’s ear off about how THIS certain university was the one I HAD to go to. My mom always told me, “Veronica, you need to get your compass pointed north, you are spinning everywhere and do not know where you want to go.”
She was right. I knew where I wanted to end up and what degree I wanted to get, but I did not know which school could do that for me. I also believe I had these thoughts running through my head that told me, “you need to be like everyone else and go to college. You need to have that broke, dorm room college life”. I know these feelings came from the fact that my high school years were full of moving places and loneliness. Yet, one night in the car with my mom, she just out of the blue said, “how about you move abroad?”
At first, Paris was supposed to be a gap year experience and then I would go back home and go to college. When I arrived to France, I knew that was not happening. A month in, I knew I needed to stay here. My mom had known the second she recommended that I move abroad. There was a feeling inside of me that has kept growing these past couple of months. Yesterday, I felt like I could have burst with happiness because my compass finally stopped spinning and started pointing north.
I had a free Friday from work, and I got together with my friend’s old au pair, who ended up staying in Paris and has started doing her studies at the university I want to go to, Sorbonne. She invited me for coffee and to her 20th century art lecture. Over coffee she explained the application process and we talked about ourselves and future goals. Later, she introduced me to some of her classmates and then the lecture began.
I understood more than I thought I did. I followed the teacher as he explained Monet’s (Maneh as the French pronounce it) story and how his life inspired his artwork. I walked out of there with a big smile on my face.
I have been in France for five months now. I speak some French, but not as much as I would like to (the French are hard to become friends with, even the French confess it). The only corrections I get in the language come from my host family and my French classes, and even then, I feel like it’s not good enough. Using my French casually yesterday, I realized I give myself less credit than I deserve.
After the lecture, I got together with a Spanish friend and we went out with some of her friends. We both practiced our much needed French, and multiple people told me they were impressed. Last night, I gained a confidence in the language that had been missing since I have arrived.
I am not going to have the college experience that I thought I needed to have. I will end up graduating at the age of 24 or 25 with my bachelors, but the extra time and effort will be worth it.
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