I'm on exchange in France and although I HAVE had a few fun nights, I'm generally having quite a hard time. It's my first week, so I'm aware that things will change. But what can I do to ease my way? I'm anxious, stressed, a little depressed, uncomfortable, feeling pretty low and insecure, etc. Please help me!
posted by rhythm_queen to human relations (23 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a 20 year old girl going on my DREAM 5 month exchange to a business school in Lille, France. It's been my dream for a very long time and it was supposed to be this massively wonderful experience, encouraging growth and all kinds of learning, making new friends, and just generally a kick ass experience.
Everyone I've talked to who did an exchange in this school has loved it. They say it was the best and most beautiful experience of their lives, and they all cried their eyes out when they had to leave.
It's been a little more than a week here. Though I've had one AMAZING weekend, I've also had a few lows and just am having lots of anxiety and stress. It's not exactly culture shock--I LOVE the people here in France, I'm improving my french tremendously already and enjoy exploring the city. But the students in my school/my own issues are having a big impact on me.
I hope to articulate myself well, and I pray you have some suggestions for me.
I'm currently doing my orientation week, where I'm meeting my new exchange student peers. I came a week earlier before orientation started, so I am familiar with the city and took a trip to visit friends in Paris. I know orientation with exchange students will be different than everyday school life, but I am still nervous.
-I've never been on my own before. I've always lived with my parents and grandparents who are relatively overprotective and conservative people. Living here on my own has been really very different for me--the freedom and the choice to quite literally be able to do whatever I want, and be practically answerable to no one, facing my own consequences has been sort of interesting. I think it's adding to my anxiety, because usually I'd come home after a stressful day and be able to tell my parents all about it. My parents know me and love me, so they'd give me advice and support me, and I'd be able to deal better with these things going on. But I don't have this. I'm on my own, for the most part. Though I've met a few people that I think I'll really get along with, I'm paranoid that they won't like me, I'm stressed when it seems they don't want to talk, I over-share due to my anxiety and need for friendship, and am occasionally an embarrassing wreck. I do notice people laugh at my jokes and seem interested to hear what I have to say, but I think I go overboard. Often.
- I have a tendency to talk very fast, and quite a lot when I'm nervous. I also over-share when my anxiety is at a peak because I guess I want to quickly form some kind of bond. Honestly, it is such a fail. I seriously think I need professional help for that because it is SUCH an alienating bad habit and I don't know how to stop doing so. ESPECIALLY here in Lille or my school, it's very bad, because the students here speak such moderate amounts of English and most students don't speak french (I'm talking solely exchangees, because i'm still in orientation) so...well, they are totally lost and probably irritated with me. I feel that I am in a rush to speak to them and I don't know how to CHILL and wait for them to get to like me. It's become such a habit that I'm constantly anxious now. It's absolutely frustrating because I think I'm a lot of fun once you get to know me, and especially one-on-one. I'm extroverted by nature, but I'm just having a hard time.
- I recently did something very stupid. I came home piss wasted, crying my eyes out over something ridiculous that I can't remember. There are about a dozen or so people living in my apartment building, and they all heard it. Apparently they went out together the next day and talked about the "crazy drunk girl" that was annoying and obnoxious. I do drink, but I haven't ever drank this much before and the stress and everything made me very emotional. Since then, I took a break from drinking and tried to get back on track with the people in my building. I dealt with it more or less well, and it seems the people have forgiven me--they seem to be cool about it now, as we all walked home together yesterday night basically arm in arm, getting to know each other more. I realize that this will happen, that people will get to KNOW me, and then they'll probably like me. But I wish I could chill out and wait for that to happen. I'm so paranoid that people won't like me, and it's not really that I'm not confident in the fact that I'm a cool person, but it's these habitual surface insecurities that are REALLY sucking the life out of me and this experience as of now.
-There are people I just do not like here. How do I deal with them? I don't want to be involved in any drama, but there are people in the exchange that really irk me. Unfortunately, these people are always around! One of them, a boy, is always visiting people in my building, and the other, a girl, is always sitting next to me and trying to start up conversation even though she is generally just extremely rude, fake, and selfish. It makes me awkward and feel guilty when they try to talk to me, because I just can't stand either of them! For example, were all out for dinner as a group and we were allowed a choice of beer or white wine. We were with these cool American boys who were totally checking her out because she is pretty and she wore a tight, black, very revealing dress. I actually admired that she didn't care that people may judge her, that she wanted to dress the way she felt. But then, when the waitress took our order for drinks, the girl was like "....Wine. I want wine. Do I LOOK like I drink beer? Um, no I don't want beer. I only drink wine, vino! Um, is there someone I can talk to, like a manager or something???" .... the waitress did not speak English and I was left to translate as I'm one of the few who knows a moderate amount of French. And it was so embarrassing and the boys were howling in laughter. When someone asked if the girl and I were friends before we came on exchange, we said no, we only met here. And some guy said "Oh, I wonder why you weren't friends before?" sarcastically. I didn't say anything, but I was still kind of embarrassed at her rude and demanding behavior. And then when I said something slightly weird, she said, "do you see why we werent friends before?!?!?" all haughtily. I was like...erm, that's rude.
And anyways, that's just an example. The guy is extremely pompous and rude and I don't feel good around him.
I don't want to be feeling this way about ANYONE here. But the truth is it makes me feel uncomfortable to be around them. That's it. I don't like them.
How do you avoid people without being rude when they're going to be physically around you for the next 5 months? This is a small school and we will be doing a lot of things together as a group.
- Once I've made friends, I'm pretty good at keeping them. But it's the making them that's the hard part. I know it sounds crazy, but as of right now, I'd like basic, practical advice. Please and thank you
I'm just generally feeling so stressed and overwhelmed. I hate feeling like my hearts in my mouth for no reason. I wish I'd brought my guitar because playing guitar is so fun to release/reduce stress. I didn't bring it because I wanted to bring too many clothes. I was thinking of buying a ukelele here.
I'm so extremely sorry for the convoluted way this question is posed. I'm so anxious and have been feeling that way for the last few days. It's really very annoying because I can't logically speak my way out of it. Is this normal? Also, I AM HAVING FUN! I had a few cool nights and one amazing, very cool weekend in Paris. But I don't want it to be SUCH HIGHS and SUCH LOWS.
Thank you so much for reading!