Wanderings and Ponderings

My Study Abroad Adventures in England & France

Stand with Paris; Stand with the World

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Well.

It’s been a terrifying past few days.

Paris, Baghdad, Beirut…while I’m not freaking out, that doesn’t mean I’m not scared. I’m scared for the world we live in. A place where all of this happens, and especially in such a short time span. 

I was 6 when 9/11 happened, and was actually fairly sheltered from what happened. Since we were all so young, the teachers didn’t turn the TVs on. I believe my parents came and got me soon after that. I mostly learned about it as I got older…..it’s weird for this to happen – essentially 9/11 for the French – and to be here. To be abroad. Away from home and everything you know, in a country where no one really speaks your language. It’s then that you realize how powerful the enemies are and how small you are.

You’re so much closer to things here in France. The States are so far away, so seemingly safe. The entire Atlantic Ocean separates it from Europe. Yet studying abroad – moving across that ocean – brings you so much closer to a lot of stuff. You can take a train to a different country in just a couple hours. And have to speak a different language. Due to the size difference, that’s like travelling from state to state to state and having to speak different languages whenever you cross boundaries. But when you study abroad, the danger gets closer too. Syria, Beirut, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran – while I’m not next door to them, I’m a lot closer than I was. 

Now the Paris attacks. The country I’m studying in. For the danger to come this close really stunned me. 

Luckily, I wasn’t in Paris when the attacks happened. I was safe in Nantes, and I got a news alert from my BBC app telling me as soon as the shootings occurred – a moment during which I was grateful I’d set up news alerts (though my friend Jasmine was impressively quick to alert me as well!)

I never dreamed how huge it would be (most deadly attack on France since WWII). I stayed up till 2 am watching the news, both unable to watch and unable to stop. I had friends in Paris, and was terrified for them – Were they ok? What if they were struck next? Luckily all of them made it out ok, and I’m so, so relieved for that! They’re shocked and upset, of course, but alive. 

I was amazed at the number of people that contacted me, asking if I was ok – it made me feel so, so loved. Despite the fact that my family is far away, you made it feel like I was part of a large Facebook family, and I really appreciated that, especially in the moment. <3

Between Paris and the other disasters going on at the moment, myself and others are feeling quite shocked. What do you say on the Monday afterwards? The “How was your weekend?” small talk seems to pale in comparison to everything else. Frequently it’s just “How are you?” and an understanding “Well…” “Yeah…”

We had a minute-long moment of silence on Monday at noon. Apparently they organized it outside, however I was clueless to this, and was sitting inside with my friends anyway. It was nothing short of eerie when 12:00 rolled around. Whereas people had been clomping through the cafeteria, chatting, etc., they all stopped at once. There was no clock on the wall. They just stopped. No one walked or came through the doors. People grew silent. And a minute later things went back to normal.

We’ve had a couple false alarms now in Nantes – people leaving stuff behind in the train station & tram, and they’re evacuating. It’s scary. On one hand it’s good that they’re being so careful about things. But it also keeps me really on-edge!

Really hoping everything calm down soon. 

Much love & bisous xxx

 

Hung in one of my classroom buildings

 
 

Student-written notes of support & solidarity

 

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Author: twinzlyn

Hi! I'm a junior at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, double majoring in French & Linguistics. For the Spring 2015 semester, I did an exchange program to the University of Kent in the town of Canterbury, England. For the 2015-2016 academic year, I'm studying at the Université de Nantes in Nantes, France.

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