And just like that, another month has passed. I try not to dwell on the fact that I’ll be going home in seven months. While I miss my family and friends, I’m not ready to let go of the life I have here. However, as the holidays approach, I’m starting to feel the three-month crisis they all warned me about.
Before I started this exchange and during my orientation camp, I was told that at a certain point (usually three months into the program), most exchange students encounter something that is known as the “Three Month Crisis.” Basically, the TMC is the point during one’s exchange where things become much harder, in school, homesickness, etc. But it’s also said that it quickly gets better by the fourth or fifth month. Usually, you have finally grasped the language by then, and things aren’t as tricky. This differs between students, but many of my friends feel the same way. Luckily, we all have each other for support whenever things get tough.
This month we said goodbye to the students that were only staying for three months. We spent the day walking around the city, telling each other everything we had learned throughout our exchange. Although I’m not one of the students leaving, it’s nice to reflect on how far I’ve come, especially in French. Three months ago I couldn’t even order a cup of coffee at the airport because I didn’t know how to. Now I can personalize my own coffee just the way I like it. It’s the little things that may not seem like much to others, but to me, it’s a huge accomplishment that reminds me of all my progress.
One of my goals for this exchange is to get out more and talk to new people. There have been many instances where I’ll be walking around the city, and I’ll hear people speaking English. My first instinct is to ask them where they’re from. I’ve met many cool and interesting people by asking a simple question. Every time I go out, I try to talk to someone new. Whenever I’m with friends, we always look out for any English speakers to spark conversation with. It’s something I never really did back home because I liked to keep to myself or whoever I was with when I went out. But I’ve gained more confidence while being here, which I hope I’ll still see when I’m back in California.
We celebrate Thanksgiving back home with my family like most Americans do. However, as I’ve come to learn, French people do not celebrate anything on the last Thursday of November. So this year, I nearly forgot about it had it not been for my mom’s “Happy Thanksgiving” messages.
This got me thinking about how the rest of the holiday season will play out. Every country celebrates the holidays differently. But I am excited to celebrate with new traditions; and with a new family.
This month brought many new experiences and opportunities, just like the last. I expect nothing less from the months to come. My main goal for December is to enjoy and stay in the moment. I am going to take in every minute of this holiday season. I just know it’s going to be a great month.
Until next time,
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Note: Mackenzie is on a year program from our Greater Los Angeles (GLA) Area Team (AT) to France, 2021-2022. She is the recipient of a GLA local need-based scholarship.