Expectations and Realities Abroad

Reflecting on my several weeks in Grenoble, I have noticed a significant shift in my expectations surrounding my study abroad experience. It has long been a dream of mine to study abroad, and with this has come a long series of hopes, expectations, and assumptions about what my experience would be like. Since arriving in France, these expectations have evolved as I have adjusted to the realities of studying abroad. Within my personal, academic, and professional spheres, there are many areas in which my expectations have been realized and others in which they have shifted. 

As part of my study abroad program, I have been taking monthly intensive French courses at the Université Grenoble Alpes. Currently, I am nearing the end of my second monthly course, which is almost crazy to think about! These courses have highly exceeded my expectations in terms of immersiveness. Between time in class and time with my host family, I usually spend about 6 hours a day functioning completely in French, which has done wonders for my language skills. I expected I would be learning a lot of French during my time abroad, and these French courses have truly allowed me to improve my French speaking, writing, and comprehension skills exponentially since arriving in Grenoble. 

Before arriving in Grenoble, I wasn’t expecting this program to have as much of an impact on my professional life as in other areas of my life. I knew already that I wanted to have a career that utilized my French language skills, but I was still unclear as to what types of careers might fit within this goal. However, I have found that there are a lot more professional resources than expected at my university here in France. By talking with professors, mentors, and other students in Grenoble, I have already been introduced to so many possible future professional opportunities that in some way involve French. 

My personal expectations have also shifted significantly since arriving abroad. When I used to imagine studying abroad, I always pictured myself jetting off to different cities or countries around Europe each weekend. While I have been fortunate to have had many opportunities to travel so far, it has not been as easy or often as I originally expected it to be. However, I have come to appreciate the time I have been able to spend in my home-abroad city of Grenoble. Staying in Grenoble some weekends instead of traveling has really allowed me to explore and fully appreciate the city in which I am now living.

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