“Learn a new language and get a new soul”. I’m not sure about a whole new soul but it’s definitely true that my personality differs depending on the language I’m speaking. The phenomenon is something I have found to be very common among us year abroaders and I’m interested to know why/how this change happens.
Sometimes a lack of vocabulary or sentence structure can affect the way we speak a foreign language, but I think it’s more to do with how we adapt to the culture and context that affects “personality”. For example, the French don’t do sarcasm in the same way that Brits do (i.e. they don’t), they have a somewhat odd (I guess it would be more polite to say “different”) sense of humour, and they are literally never on time. They also love their food and wine – how cliché. So if you want to adapt to French life it’s time to lose your watch, take things a little slower, and find the funny in unfunny.
You don’t have any choice other than to adapt whilst on a year abroad. New country, city, town, new people, new jobs, and essentially a new way of life (lunchtime apéro being one of my favourites). Maybe even a new name, if yours begins with H and you’re in a country where that letter goes unpronounced…
Adapting to Laval was tricky, especially when coming from a city like Paris, but I’ve tried out so many new things, like sophrology, tai chi and dance classes, as well as rock climbing and zorb football, discovered new places, and met loads of great people that now this strange town doesn’t seem so strange anymore.
But all of this adapting is almost over, as I’m finishing my work placement on Friday and then heading back home. It’s so surreal to say that I’ve completed more than nine months living and working in France; an achievement that seemed somewhat unattainable back in September. I know that my dad, who has recently nicknamed me the girl who cries wolf (as everything “always turns out fine” and I “shouldn’t worry all the time”), will probably roll his eyes when he reads that, and say something like “of course you could do it” – but it was honestly so daunting at the beginning.
I’ve overcome a variety of challenges; personal, professional, and some which could even be defined as quarter-life-crisis-inducing (I’m half joking, Dad). I’ve also had so many opportunities and have been lucky enough to live in Paris (and Laval!), travel to other parts of France, work in two great companies and learn so much about so many things. Both the good and the bad have helped me improve – and not just in my French – which is something I am really grateful for. I’m also grateful to you for reading my blog and following my adventure, so thank you!
Bye for now, France. Home is calling.
Hannah x x