Thursday, 26 September 2013

"Je suis une femme forte et indépendante"

Sometimes it feels like I just have to say that I'll be okay, and if I am not, I will be eventually. I refuse to show people the uglier side to me: the side which feels constantly inadequate and turns into a horribly insecure mad woman when times get tough. Out here in Montpellier, it feels like I have a mountain to climb, and the progress is slow. Sometimes painstakingly so. More often than not, there are days where it seems like a total non starter to even take a step forward, because when I feel insecure I often throw myself into other areas where I know I am strong ie studying. Except here that is not possible because I often feel just as out of my depth at uni as I do when I am trying to work out the practical things. This means I have had to be wholly and completely reliant on Jesus since I have been here, since I cannot lean on my own understanding or strength because I get to the end of the day and I am exhausted.

I am learning to be thankful, even in spite of the moments where exhaustion overtakes me & I am left grappling with the belief that I am not strong enough. After all, Jesus has given me the best flatmates ever, a church where I was instantly welcomed and made to feel part of the family of God, and support from completely unexpected places. He has given me moments of truly unexpected elation and freedom and has spoken to me when I needed him the most. Basically, I am falling in love all over again and it feels incredible. But I am also learning that with love, it is not enough to simply pretend everything is fine all the time otherwise the relationship is built on falsehood and lies. When the truth does emerge, it will seem so much more difficult to deal with and it will be so much more painful to overcome.

So I know it's a huge step and a massive risk for the heart but bringing yourself before God no matter how much you are hurting is something that I think is essential in order to have a good relationship.

In short, this amazing song says it all:  Any Other Way - Tenth Avenue North

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Welcome to... Chaos.

When I have more time, I will fulfill the year abroad cliché & begin a new blog dedicated to my stay in La Belle France, but for now a post here will have to suffice.

Most people know that I was so anxious about my year abroad, that until about 2/3 weeks before I actually left home, it was a topic best not talked about too much for fear of triggering tears (A LOT of them) or turning me into an anxious rambling mess... neither of which is a great reaction to spending the year in another country. Gradually I progressed from this, to lying about being extremely excited (obviously more so than scared) even though in truth it was the other way round: I was TERRIFIED. While most of my friends loved the idea of being able to repeat freshers all over again... I wasn't so taken by it: What if this is hard? What if my French isn't up to it? Plus, I maybe 20, but I hadn't flown alone until now. So that was an added anxiety. But despite all of the panic and the last minute preparations, I made my flight, said goodbye to my friends, family and boyfriend... and made it to Montpellier in one piece.

Since then everything has been chaotic. From signing in, getting my room key, to my toilet breaking (& having to explain this in French) and researching bank accounts (then finding the bank is closed), phone contracts, and the most recent (but definitely not the last) error I made was turning up to the wrong introductory lecture at the university yesterday morning... mainly because I had a blonde moment and forgot that in France, French is NOT a foreign language... Ooops. Though all of these things stressed me out no end, and though day to day things continue to stress me out, out here I am learning fast that it almost always about the small victories: the times when you meet new people & they understand you, learning the best route to uni (it's actually fairly simple) and finding places to buy food to name but a few. However, my proudest moment to date has to be the achievement of my second day: I OPENED A FRENCH BANK ACCOUNT.  I had to make sure I understood the charges, the things I was signing up for and the kind of account I needed. With patience and A LOT of brain power... I did it.

During a 2 hour long walk home after a night out (It's advisable not to try to walk 14 stops on the tram at 2am...) with a group of new people I was reminded how good, loving and incredible my God is. He looked after all of us the whole way & some situations which could have been potentially bad, were always escaped. Plus, I got to have an amazing conversation with a girl from my floor who is also a Christian, which just made me feel so happy & secure in the knowledge that my God truly is a God who loves, and provides.

Two full days in and I am already learning... This year is going to be crazy. But bring it. I am ready to fall in love with French. And very possibly France.