Bonjour from Le Havre, France!
You're probably wondering how a week ago I was in the capital of France, and now this weekend I'm writing from two hours west of the city and a hop, skip, and a jump away from the beach. Well, I just so happened to have Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon-ed myself into the home of a very sweet French family.
Have I ever really met a real French person who wasn't a receptionist, train conductor, or restaurant server face to face before? Nope. Spending a weekend in someone else's real- life home (not touristy, not staged) is an overwhelmingly fantastical type of culture shock. It's as if ten years of language learning have smacked me hard in the face and I've discovered that people my age speak SO fast and I know no slang. Also, the food is amazing. It's frickin' awesome.
In parts one and two, I've mentioned that going abroad is all about *rolls eyes* "leaving your comfort zone," and I'm totally going to say it 945,703,458 more times before the end of December. This weekend I mega went out of my comfort zone by taking a train somewhere I've never been to stay at the home of someone I've never met, all for the sake of cultural immersion.
So here's me, standing on a beach I didn't even know existed until I got to a seaside town I had never even heard of to stay a weekend with people I had never ever met in my whole life.
Venturing out on your own, which I've done a handful of times since my arrival in Paris, is really scary but also fun. The act in and of itself isn't scary, but the not really knowing your surroundings or the language is. In France I'm at a great advantage since I know the language, so I've been grabbing the travel bull by the horns as of late. Sitting on a train or plane by yourself lends some time for self-reflection and radical introspection, especially if you're a little tongue-tied amongst native speakers. It also lends itself to hyper-vigilance; you can't quite doze off during your journey like you can at home.
Traveling by yourself to basically go see people/places you don't know forces you to grow up and get your **** together to make it happen. You need to be resourceful over anything else- be it scared, nervous, or otherwise. If you have self-confidence, you also have the capability to venture out into the world safely.
So, here's me, saying again at the end of week two:
(Safely though, do it safely.)