Building a Study Abroad Family

By: Lilianna Dunlop

I came to France with my 2 best friends Kayla and Angela. Before this study abroad, many previous students warned me of ‘rooming with my besties’. It instilled a fear in me that I wouldn’t make new friends and learn to hate the friends that I came with. But, when we got to France, we ended up growing our friendships.

Staying at the Chateau has required everyone to build a cohesive community. I expected to learn French customs and culture. However, studying abroad has forced me to learn how to work with people from all over the United States as well. Whether it be in class or the kitchen, I have learned that everyone sees, hears, and does things differently. Something that I have noticed is that immediately after arriving here, the students from Virginia gathered, the ones from Oregon gathered, and the ones from Georgia gathered. Only a few days later, we began to categorize by interest—Future Businessmen/Women, Lawyers, Writers, Communications Majors, etc.

I looked at the connections we were building like the cornfield outside the Chateau. When I first arrived, I didn’t know that it was a corn field. Each corn stock looked so small that they could’ve been carrots or potatoes. As the week went on, we walked as a group past that field. It grew. Since we walked to the tram every day, I didn’t notice the growth. Until today. I looked to the right to see the corn stalk was taller than I am. Granted I am only 5’2, or as the French would say 132cm. Likewise, I didn’t know I was growing a family until I realized that I missed my friends on my walk to the tram today.