International student’s experience in VA

I am Audrey Bally, I was born and raised in France. I am, now, a Mathematics and Political Science major at VWU. When I was 16, I decided I did not want to keep studying in France and wanted to open my opportunities by studying in America. I, therefore, learned English and during my last year of high school applied for schools here in the US. When I turned 18 and my freshman year was about to start I moved all my belongings and my life far away from my family, here in Norfolk. It has almost been three years now and I do cherish the chance to experience both cultures.

A lot of things shocked me at first when I arrived, such as the fact that people were very joyful and full of compliments, which is quite the opposite of how French act in public. French people usually do not smile unless they are with their friends and it is very hard to get compliments from them, while Americans are always happy to give positive feedback. When I went home for Christmas during my freshman year, after only three months in America, my friends could not stop talking about how much confidence I gained. Three months of non-stop compliments when you are not used to any, except from your mum, is for sure life-changing. 

I also discovered Thanksgiving. I did learn about it in English class in middle school, but I never experienced it myself until I came to the states for an extended time. So for my first Thanksgiving, I went up to Fredericksburg, VA. And I ate my first thanksgiving diner. My first pumpkin pie and I have to say, it is good, far from French cuisine, but good!!

I like living in both countries, because it is like having separated parents, you get twice as many holidays to celebrate. One celebration that I always miss because I am in the US and not in France and I am very mad about is Easter. American chocolate is not as good as European chocolate. Or at least my taste buds are not as used to it. 

When it comes to religious celebration, another thing that shocked me coming to the US is how much more religious people are. In France, very few people are religious anymore and if they are, they only practice and talk about it at home. In America, people are really open about it and people young and old share their beliefs. It was very interesting for me to adapt to this more religious environment while I grow up in a place where religion, state and the rest of life is well separated. 

There is always time where I miss home and would like to talk to people with whom I share more in common, but most of the time I fully enjoy my time in America. Although I am French, everyday I learn more about American culture and cherish it a bit more. 

Audrey Bally