Life Lessons

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by Chris James | EDUCO Paris, Spring 2020

It’s 6pm after a long day of classes, an hour of walking, and a tour of the Louvre. I’m starving, but my host family doesn’t serve dinner until 8 or 8:30pm. All my life I have eaten dinner relatively early, rarely waiting for the rest of my family to sit down and eat with me…. Fast forward to the morning. It’s 9:30am and class starts at 10:00am. I am just getting out of bed. I look at the clock, jump out of bed, throw on some clothes, grab a piece of toast and rush to class. I arrive at 10:02am to find out that our teacher is also running late. I’m sweaty from running to catch the train, and hungry because I never ate breakfast. I’m frustrated at myself, at my teacher, and at life in general. But why?

This was the view outside of my room. I really enjoyed living with my host family and still stay in touch with them today.

One of the many lessons I learned while abroad is the power of patience and the ability to go with the flow. In U.S. culture, people are often so focused on the next task that needs to be completed that they lose sight of the present. I learned how important it is to live in the moment and let go of things that are out of your control. Yes, I was extremely hungry at 6pm and dinner wasn’t for two more hours. But I also had two hours of work that I could complete in the meantime. Yes, I was going to be 5-10 minutes late for class, but that doesn’t give me any reason to worry about it for half an hour. Sometimes it is important to live and let go.

A second lesson I learned while abroad is the importance of being open-minded and engaging in debate and conversation about sensitive topics. Oftentimes people hide how they truly feel about certain issues or don’t like to engage in conversation that could lead to disagreement. This is especially true about subjects like politics. My host family always encouraged us to debate about various issues at the dinner table and we were able to disagree on various topics while understanding each other’s viewpoints and remaining civil. The best part about disagreement is that you generally learn more from someone who you don’t see eye to eye with than someone you do. The ability to adapt or change your viewpoint when presented with new information isn’t easy, but by achieving open-mindedness you can start seeing various issues in color instead of black and white.