I’m back in the states.
While I know I will miss France, after so much travelling I have been enjoying the simple pleasures of being home- going to my hometown’s 4th of July parade, playing fetch with my dogs, letting my chickens outside, and catching up with my siblings (and my parents- hi Mom).
Nevertheless, it’s time to (finally) write a decent conclusion to this crazy blog.
Without further ado, I present to you Megan’s Time Abroad: The Epilogue.
First of all, thank you all for taking the time to read this blog, I’ve enjoyed having your virtual support throughout this whole experience.
Second of all, for those following my Thumb Saga (which you can read about here– or don’t, and just trust me when I say that it was a strange and unfortunate event that resulted in a severed right thumb tendon), rest assured thanks to daily thumb exercises, physical therapy sessions where my thumb learned to be a thumb and I learned random French expressions (“c’est pas le pied!”) my splint is off, and my right thumb is remembering how to hit the space bar as I type this (which makes blogging much more efficient!). I had a follow-up visit with my French Surgeon Who Talks Quickly About Complicated Thumb Mechanics (FSWTQACT), and though FSWTQACT and I have differing opinions about whether or not I’ll ever be able to bend my thumb again, I’m determined to do the equivalent of the Thumb Olympics to get as much mobility back as I can. So that’s that.
It is a corny and over-used phrase but the simplest way to sum up my 6 months in Europe is to say that it was “unforgettable”.
Here are a few of the reasons why:
My study abroad friends, a wonderful group of people from all over the U.S. who are willing to talk with you about things like how much you miss American pizza or how hard it is to remember how to order a pitcher of water at a restaurant (“une carafe d’eau, s’il vous plaît”)
My “modern art” class at the Université de Nantes, which (much to my surprise!) turned out to actually be focused on 16th century Italian art. This meant I learned a lot of new French vocabulary which lets me say things like “the exposed knee in this painting is clearly a reference to Michelangelo”, and “the sheer strangeness of this painting reflects the artistic anxiety of the period following Michelangelo’s death”, and other things that (thankfully) will not be found in any French/English phrasebook.
Making French/francophone friends. I’m so thankful for the “jeunes adultes” group at the local protestant church in Nantes… and for all the times we went out for Indian food.
La bise. In the U.S., we greet people with a “Hello” and maybe a handshake. In France, you do “la bise”, where you kiss the person on both cheeks*. The first time I did it, I was terrified. Truth is, I’m still terrified, now I just hide it better.
*actually more like “kiss the air near the person’s cheeks”, as I found out.
The thumb saga… I never thought I would see a French hospital from the inside, but now I have, and let me tell you, the food is AMAZING. I also have to hand it to the hand surgeons, they did a nice job.
Boulangeries. I fell in love at first sight, and even did a presentation on them for my IES French class. Fresh bread is a beautiful thing, as is going to the boulangerie early in the morning when the pain au chocolat is still warm…
My host family. Still not sure why a family with 5 kids already decided to accept one more, but I am so glad they did!
Sharing my name with the incredibly popular Renault “Mégane”. “Je m’appelle Mégane, comme la voiture!” My name is Megan, like the car! Interestingly, the French name “Mégane” was inspired by the car- before the invention of the Renault, the name was non-existent.
Interning at a dairy farm. After my semester in Nantes, I interned at a dairy farm in rural Normandy for 2 weeks, during which I learned a lot of cow-related vocabulary, learned how to milk cows, and even learned how to herd cows from one pasture to another (hint: it requires much shouting of “ALLEZ!” and acting like you are much bigger than you actually are).
Gallivanting around Europe. After the dairy farm, I travelled alone through Europe, staying with friends in the Basque country, Germany, and the U.K., all of which I never could have imagined doing before studying abroad.
Though it’s fair from perfect, I know my grasp of French can take me far. Just how far? I’m not sure yet…but I’m excited to find out. In the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger…. France, I’ll be back!*
*OK, so he didn’t say “France”, but I did, so there.
So I suppose this is less of an epilogue, and more of a “To be continued”.