The University of Iowa

Authored by Lauren Gentile

I’ve loved studying in Chambéry and I can’t wait to return to France.

Handling emergencies abroad

Staring blankly up at the ceiling of a French hospital, I distantly understood that I was in trouble, but could find no words to explain how I felt. Speaking in French to explain my situation to the doctor was impossible, as I was no longer sure that I could speak any language. Time moved differently, jumping back and forth between clear memories of before the accident and the fuzzy, confused reality of after. My head felt eerily empty, quieter than I had ever experienced it. I had a vague sense of who I was- I knew my name, at least- but could not understand how I had gotten to be in this state.

The first week in France: managing expectations abroad

Each morning when I wake up in my French apartment, I feel a tiny flicker of panic. Where am I? What am I doing? How could I possibly have packed up and left my entire life behind in the States? Each morning, I make myself a cup of chocolate-pear tea (weird, I know, but I’m making my way through the entire tea section of Carrefour), look out the window at my new city, and reacquaint myself with my new life. Each morning, it gets a little easier.