EDITOR’S NOTE: In this week’s edition of the Wanderlust Weekly, we incorrectly linked to this article for the How Men And Women Travel Differently piece. We apologize for the error. You can find the correct post at https://beyondthediploma.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/how-men-and-women-travel-differently/
If you haven’t heard of Alexis Meads you are now going to want to know her. Alexis is a fabulous lifestyle & wellness coach and self described nutritional diva. She provides this week’s travel inspiration as she shares with us her time spent in France and how she found happiness in ways she would have never imagined.
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My Time In France
by Alexis Meads
I believe that anyone presented with the opportunity and ability to travel abroad, should take it.
I was fortunate enough at the age of 20 to spend a blissful 6 months in the South of France. My college offered a study abroad program, and while most students chose Australia, England or somewhere else English speaking, I had always wanted to live in France. I had taken French for 8 years and my parents had gotten married there.
After an overnight flight and a bus down to Aix en Provence, full of new students who I didn’t know, I got off the bus to find my new host mother waiting for me.
And what I found, shocked me…
She spoke NO English. I mean zero. As it turned out, very few people in the town spoke English.
Growing up in the sheltered, American suburb that I did it didn’t occur to me that they wouldn’t speak English. I mean, obviously I knew that other countries had native languages, but I assumed that most French people must have learned English and used it all the time.
Boy, was I ethnocentric.
What happened next, amazed me…
There was about a week of bumbling around, dealing with culture shock. Literally, I ran into a glass wall at a cellphone store because I was so overwhelmed. After that grueling week, my brain went into crazy hyper overdrive mode!
It was my first experience on how unbelievably good humans are at adaptation. I started translating constantly, even when I was sleeping. It was survival for me, if I wanted to live harmoniously with this woman in her town I had to learn to be fluent, fast!
Four months later my dad and sister came to visit over the holidays. It wasn’t until sitting down for dinner with them and my host mom, that I realized I had made it. I could now think in French and fluently translate the conversation to my family. After 8 years of studying French, it took me only 4 months to become fluent.
I wasn’t just living the culture, I was LOVING the culture!
The sun shone down over the beautiful historic town and lavender covered landscape. I shopped at the markets for my cheese, wine, bread and olive oil. I was free from a computer and cellphone, completely cut off from my world. And yet I had never felt so complete and happy. I had my small group of girlfriends who I had lunch with daily, I studied busily, practiced my French and spent free time painting the landscape or traveling to nearby countries.
It was the most balanced I had ever felt. My life was simple, yet full of joy and meaning. It forced me to blend in with another culture for the first time and grew my confidence. Not to mention, the food is by far what I miss the most. I lost 10 pounds just from walking and eating fresh foods.
So, to anyone out there with the opportunity to travel and live abroad, do it! You will expand in ways you never imagined.
Alexis Meads is a Lifestyle & Wellness Coach in Boston, MA. She is the founder of AlexisMeads.com and Crazy, Wild, Love. Her mission is to support and inspire women to live the most beautiful, fun, romantic lives they can dream of.