These past two weeks were absolutely riveting, as I got to spend time in my host city experiencing the 72nd Cannes Film Festival. I’ve also done a lot of reflecting about my semester abroad.
As a student with AIFS Study Abroad in Cannes, I had the wonderful opportunity to volunteer for La Semaine de la Critique (International Critics’ Week), a portion of the Cannes Film Festival where people can come to watch and enjoy films of all types. This was also an incredible chance to put my french speaking abilities to the test! My time working for the festival was an experience I will never forget! I worked with so many people from all over Europe and created so many friendships. Not only did I get to enjoy the Cannes Film Festival itself, but being an actual part of its production was more than I could have ever imagined.
My wonderful AIFS Resident Director, Sandrine, gave us multiple opportunities to view films shown at the Cannes Film Festival by helping us achieve a festival badge throughout the semester. She also got invitations for us to see films in the theaters and on the red carpet!
Now that the Cannes Film Festival’s 10 day stretch is over and the hard work is well paid off, I can once again recognize my study abroad city without all of the tourists in it. It’s returned to just the locals, and I’m reminded of what made me originally fall in love with Cannes in the first place.
I never truly thought how I feel in this moment would be the outcome of my study abroad experience. In January, I was nervous, anxious, and awaiting the days until I could go back home to my safe place in the United States, to have a sense of normality again.
Fast forward to just a few months later, to now. I reflect on my time abroad with it coming to an end so soon and regret the days I wished this experience away. In fact, I long for more beach days on the French Riviera in Cannes with my wonderful study abroad friends.
As it turns out, it is completely normal to be out of your comfort zone for awhile when you study abroad. It’s the most effective way to become independent and learn more about yourself than you ever thought you could. As a wonderful professor at Tiffin University told me, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” As I spent time in the streets of Cannes, nervous to practice my French and anxious awaiting my french classes, I was still eager and ready to make new friends and to explore.
While studying abroad here, I have worked through the meaning of solitude and have discovered what it means to redefine yourself. It sometimes would take walks alone on the beach in Cannes, or taking time to meditate or self-reflect on what was going on around me. I realized that, although I have been abroad and 5,000 miles away from home, being this far didn’t mean that the problems at home would cease or suddenly vanish, so I had to work through this concept and misbelief that I had when first arrived in Cannes.
Nonetheless, while studying abroad I have learned to adjust and have ultimately discovered so much about myself and the world that I could have never discovered by living at home. From enjoying my time at the Cannes Film Festival to traveling around the French Riviera, living in Cannes was such an incredible privilege that will leave a long-lasting impression on me.