A month ago today, I sat in my nearly empty Paris apartment packing up the clothes, bedding, toiletries, and knick-knacks that helped make it a home away from home. I had a 50 pound bag, a carry-on suitcase, one very stuffed longchamp, and my purse (the cab driver was thrilled). I carried with me so much more than these items, however. Returning with me were many memories made, lessons learned, and new friendships (…maybe a few pounds but I like to think of these as “culinary souvenirs”)
Studying abroad had always been a dream of mine. I initially chose my major, International Studies, because it allowed me to combine my passions for history, language, culture, and travel into an academic pursuit. Never has my study felt more complete than while abroad. Although classes were admittedly much easier than the typical Michigan class, I was learning as I rode the metro on my daily commute, grocery shopped, dined in cafes, socialized at bars, visited new countries and cities, explored neighborhoods…my lesson began the moment I hopped on the plane and is one that will continue for years to come.
In addition to all the cultural, historical, and social lessons learned; I learned about myself. I learned that my best French is spoken after a glass of wine (or two) and I am annoyed about something (it helps me acquire the necessary Parisian attitude and minimizes my wholesome Midwestern tendencies). I learned that I am capable of being spontaneous. As someone who typically likes to have everything planned out, learning just to take things as they come and “go for it” is a valuable lesson that I hope to apply back home as well. I learned that traveling with someone teaches you more about their personality than anything else could.
One of my favorite things about abroad is that I woke up excited for each morning; I always anticipated a new experience. I learned that this sense of opportunity and excitement need not be exclusive to abroad. I am lucky enough to live in an amazing city that is waiting to be explored.
There is so much that I will miss about Paris and the abroad experience. I will miss walking through the Luxembourg Gardens, seeing the Eiffel Tower every day, two euro wine bottles, Pierre Herme macarons, free access to any national museum, meeting new people from all over the world, exploring new cities with old friends, and the constant sense of wonder.
Thank you all for taking the time to read my blog. I loved being able to share it with you! But for now dear readers and the city of Paris…