Laure-Anne is a 22-year-old Frenchwoman who is currently studying in Paris at the IRIS (Institute for International Strategic Relations). She has a double degree in Law and Languages, and started studying Arabic this year. As she explains in this article, she has lived in several countries from an early age. It is interesting to read what a positive impact her life experience has had on her. Thank you Laure-Anne, and bravo for your enthusiasm!
I lived in Sana’a (Yemen) as a baby but I do not remember anything at all about it, then we moved to Los Angeles (USA) for 4 years. We then spent 3 years in the Paris suburbs, then Johannesburg (South Africa) for 3 years, Rabat (Morocco) for 3 years, a short trip back to France (Nantes, this time) for 3 years, and one year in Frankfurt, Germany. Had I to choose, I could not say what country I loved the most. Experiences differ depending on one’s age. Every move has taught me something and offered me a different but always surprising lifestyle. I loved the years I spent abroad, regardless of the country.
When I got to my senior year in high school, I was uncertain about what I wanted to do. I just knew that at the end of my studies I wanted to sit the exam for the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. I briefly considered taking the exam to join Political Sciences, but then opted for a faculty that would make me discover “real” student life. My brother and my parents helped me, and I decided to do a Joint Honours Degree in Law and Languages (English and Spanish) in Grenoble. It was important for me to continue studying foreign languages: English was a big part of my life and the “inheritance” of my years abroad. At the end of the degree, it was clear to me that I could not spend another year in France. I was, and still am, accustomed to living in a country for three years and then moving on! I had done my stint in France and I had to go, hence my Erasmus year in Spain.
I am now in International Relations at IRIS, Paris, and in 2 years I will go abroad again, I hope to Latin America, Oceania or the Middle East.
I must admit that it was not easy to leave my family. Any time I moved, I used to have my parents and my brothers with me, so starting a new life alone in Grenoble was not simple. I could not count on anyone but myself.
What I found most difficult was finding myself in a class where everyone already had long-standing friends: almost everyone was born and raised in Grenoble. This was the first time I’d ever had trouble trouble integrating: I think people were a bit scared of me at first, I had never stayed long in one place and I think some students thought I was showing off, that I thought they knew nothing about life when in fact, for once, it was me who knew nothing about French life.
But if life abroad has taught me something, it is to integrate and adapt, so I went to talk to those people in my class who seemed the most open-minded, and I tried to merge into the group, to pass unnoticed.
But that only lasted the first year. At the end of my second year I went to London for an internship, without knowing anyone, not even knowing where I was going to live. Later, for my Erasmus year, I left like a nomad: after twenty-four hours on a train, I ended up in a city where I knew no one (I didn’t speak a word of Spanish). But in less than two hours, I was in town with my roommates and at night I was already discovering student life in Valencia.
So my experience abroad is not really helping me now, since everyone is in the same situation as me and everyone is discovering the joy of experiencing something new adventures.
Having moved so much during my youth has proved useful, but at times I think it can also pose a problem: I can’t keep still. I organize a lot of trips: I’m planning to go to Montenegro and Argentina soon. And also I’m planning the world tour that I want to go on at the end of my studies before sitting the final exam.
I admit, I have itchy feet. I hope it will always be this way. I do not want to spend my life in France. I plan to sit the exam for the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, to become a diplomat like my father and spend my life traveling. If I could do only one thing for the rest of my life, it would be to travel as much as possible !