(Wolverine is a typical comic book hero but he’s not the only kind. Photo by: http://www.bang2write.com)
The word “hero” is very popular in American culture. So much so that I feel it gets overused for scenarios that do not qualify as heroic behavior based upon the definition. I located the below, satisfactory Google definition of hero. Essentially it is someone who is brave and showed courage.
Now typically when you think of study abroad you don’t think of anyone being a hero. But there is someone who has showed courage, bravery, and relentless persistence in the face of numerous adversities abroad- if that’s not being a hero, I don’t know what is. A study abroad hero may seem unnecessary but I can tell you when I was at my low point during studying abroad, I could have used a hero; a source of inspiration to know that I wasn’t alone and that someone had gone through worse and stuck it out. She’s a few years too late for my study abroad but she is just in time for yours. Chelsea Fairless- you are my study abroad hero.
When Chelsea first contacted me a few months ago about being a guest blogger, I had no idea what her story entailed other than she was a student in Geneva. Like you, I have come to learn of Chelsea’s story through her weekly posts and on her blog Parole Passport. One nightmare au pair family situation after another would have sent most students packing and swearing off living abroad ever again. Not Chelsea. She had a goal to live abroad, to discover a new her and a new culture, to improve her French skills and nothing was going to convince her to give up her dream.
Reading Chelsea’s posts each week summon in me 2 opposing feelings. The first is one of admiration. The second is one of jealously. I admire Chelsea for her determination, her optimism, her ability to keep going despite difficult living arrangements. I’m a firm believer that home is where the heart is and when you can’t even feel like you have a home, this can be so depressing. And this is where the (healthy) jealousy kicks in. I allowed the lack of home feeling due to an unforeseen host family situation (along with no cultural preparation and lack of linguistic skills) make me want to come home. What kept me abroad wasn’t my determination or optimism- it was my fear of having to tell Tatie that I wanted to go home before the end of the year. That was the initial reason why I stayed the year in Paris. The final reason came about a month later when I realized how much I had learned about French culture and how much my language had improved despite being in a homesick, depressive funk. Although I finally came out of my funk, it would have been nice to have a hero to look to for inspiration during that time. But thankfully for you, that source of inspiration is out there.
If you’re studying abroad and missing home or thinking that things may be too much and you need a reason to keep going, just look to Chelsea- your study abroad hero.
Have you gone to all your university study abroad meetings but still have questions? Answer all of your questions about what the experience of living and going to college abroad to avoid any surprises with book The Paris Diaries: The Study Abroad Experience Uncensored. Looking for something more technical like exactly how many and which documents do you need to get your French visa this summer? Check out Twenty in Paris: A Young American Perspective of Studying Abroad in Paris. Don’t have a Kindle? Download the free Kindle App to your iPad or any other e-reader device.