April 12, 2014, by Guest blog

“It’ll be the best year of your life”. How the year abroad has turned me into a ‘Yes Man’

With my permanent departure from France just a week away, I have been feeling increasingly pensive lately. Reflecting on the life I have built here and how it has changed me over the last seven months leads me to all sorts of conclusions on what I have learned from the experience; be it what I want to do when I graduate, how open I now am to working in different environments or how wrong some of my pre-year abroad assumptions were. Yet, and this may sound cheesy, but the most important conclusion I have drawn from this year is that I feel extremely positive about pretty much everything now.

chocolate award

An entry for the Festival du Chocolat, Tours. The theme was ‘motorcars’ – this is totally made of chocolate!

This may seem a bit far-fetched, but it’s true. On a personal level, I have gained so much confidence in myself since moving to France. Being thrown in to an alien environment initially was challenging, but being disciplined enough to repeatedly throw myself into alien environments on a daily basis (meeting new people, delivering lessons to uninterested students, allowing myself to be targeted by communist street campaigners just because it was an opportunity to speak French) took a lot of mental strength. And guess what – said mental strength was there all along – it just needed to be put to the test. I have become a bit of a ‘yes man’ (the Jim Carrey film…) since coming here and it’s amazing how much more enjoyable life is when you take every opportunity, whatever it may be, that comes your way.

Overcoming all of these obstacles has meant that nothing daunts me. This in turn means that I never really worry about anything anymore. Before doing my year abroad, I thought “how am I ever going to get a job with a language degree and no experience?” “I don’t know what to do in life” etc. etc. But now I know that whatever I throw myself into from now on, I’ll enjoy; because I’ve become the sort of person who just enjoys what they’re doing. Moreover, I now have so much to put on my CV and loads to talk about in interviews. Despite my initial doubts, I now feel I am at an advantage over Economics and Maths students, who have an impressive degree but no life or work experience under their belts.

Though I am devastated to be leaving, my new-found appreciation for life and open-mindedness means I’m just excited about the next challenges that life will throw at me. People weren’t lying when they told me the year abroad would be the best year of my life. They were right.

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