My time in France has all but come to an end. I only have one more final and three days left before my flights back to Seattle! I honestly cannot believe this amazing experience is ending. I feel like I just got here, but also I can look back and see that in fact I have done a lot, seen a lot, and definitely learned a lot. It’s hard to describe a study abroad experience to someone who has never had the opportunity, but all I can say is if you get the opportunity, or know someone who is considering it, encourage them to do it! For any length of time, no matter how daunting it may seem, it will be life changing.
To be honest, I didn’t really want to go on a study abroad. I didn’t think I could be away from home for so long (still can’t believe its been so long since I’ve seen my family), away from the Linfield community, anything. I thought I would do a Jan term- that seemed manageable, but a semester was far too daunting. Regardless of that I ended up on a track for a major and minor that both required a semester abroad (not so clever of me), so I figured all right, we’ll see. I don’t think I have been so happy about doing something in my life. Not only have I gotten to explore some beautiful parts of Europe, meet some absolutely amazing people from all over the world, challenge myself beyond belief, but also I feel like I was able to become a part of the French culture. From the elderly women I hung out with and played trivia games with each week, to friends of my host mom who made me feel so welcome and loved, to my professors who were always encouraging and positive of our progress and adaption.
This semester was a challenge no doubt; probably my hardest semester of college. Academics aside (my classes were interesting, but beyond challenging), the challenges lay in the language and the emotional strain of being in a foreign country without any of your close friends or family. I’m glad that I didn’t know anyone when I came here because it forced me to live out of my comfort zone and go after what I wanted and needed. Still there are those days that are especially hard when you just want to cuddle with your best friend (or cat) and when you can’t you find other ways to get over the struggles (walks in the park, chocolate éclairs seemed to work well). Regardless, I have made some great friends, hopefully that I will see again soon, and who I know all have very bright futures.
The past few weeks have been filled with term papers and finals studying, but I’ve managed to squeeze in as many fun French activities as I can before leaving. I’ve gone to the market a few times to finish my Christmas shopping, taken some strolls down the Cours Mirabeau at night to look at the lights and drink some vin chaud (hot, spiced wine), and buy as many pastries as I can before they will be nothing but a dream. I’m going to be sad to leave France- my host mom, my friends, the city- but now I’m just more in love with the country and Europe than I already was, so I know I will be making plans soon to come back and visit. There are never good-byes in France, only see you soon, hopefully very soon.
A bien-tôt! A très bien-tôt!