biarritz: the beginning

I've been in Biarritz, a picturesque little beach town in the south of France, for the past two weeks. The houses here all have orange roofs and colorful shutters in blue, red, orange set against their white walls, something straight from Beauty and the Beast. I spend a lot of time on the beaches, which are crawling with surfers in search of waves and tourists hungry for a final taste of summer. A house on the rocks; winding, hilly roads; the Spanish coastline; a lighthouse perched on a cliff. 

As gorgeous as it here, orientation has proved to be more disorienting than I expected. I got placed in the highest level for classes—a mistake, I'm convinced—and I can barely function. Languages are scrambling in my brain, my stuttering is coming back full force, and my hearing is terrible as ever. I've been stressing myself out over the work that we've had to do and feeling like I'm constantly falling behind. 

"I'm drowning. Staying alive, but drowning," I wrote in my journal. 

It's hard to remind myself that I wanted this. I had practically begged for two years for something where I was completely lost and uncomfortable, something foreign that I could soak up and disappear into. I had wanted exactly this. I know, I know, I'm supposed to be good at this world traveler thing by now, aren't I? This is supposed to be easy. 

I think that was my mistake, honestly. There are mishaps and struggles that happen while in third world countries (bears on leashes and "rustic" squat toilets, whaddup) that I brush off easily because they're expected, almost welcomed. The difference this time around is that I had expected something easy, just because it's France, but nothing about leaving behind home and adopting another should be easy. It's the same story, whether it's just a semester in Washington D.C. or India. I'm grateful to have figured this out early. 

It's hard to remind myself that my French is improving everyday when everyone around me is too, but I know I am. Just being here, the language—the words, the structures, the accent—everything is flooding into me and  it's becoming more natural each day. My accent is still terrible, but I talk so much more confidently than when I got here. The strangest moments are those when I'm writing or talking in English and I can feel a French word or phrase about to slip out to replace the English. It's incredible. 

I'm excited to see what the rest of the year is going to bring. There's so much waiting ahead and I've already learned so much about myself and this country.

(Also, until the next blog post, follow me on Instagram at wishinbubble. I update that ish pretty frequently.)

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Le Grand Plage of Biarritz

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The Basque Coast

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Smile, you're living

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My favorite part of the walk back from school everyday: looking out over the sea of orange hats

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Sunset over the Atlantic

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Misadventures on the beach

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My favorite beach at Biarritz, with the Spanish coast visible on the horizon