I don't think I've ever felt more whole than how I do when I'm next to the sea. The cool water wrinkles with every wave as it makes its way to the shoreline and washes pearly bubbles towards my feet eventually bringing the soft salty foam to my toes making them disappear. I stand there at the edge of the sea listening to seagulls circling in the air—people speak French in the distance and the bright reds and oranges burning in the sky melding together like an oil painting as the sun begins to kiss the horizon. Everything around me is so calm and quiet. Simple.
Life passes so quickly but I've never felt time fly like during our fall break. There was so much we completed in a week and a half. We tried new foods, like bouillabaisse which is a traditional seafood dish in Marseilles, explored the port and Le Panier (the old town), soaked in all of the warm colorful art and paints that lined every building, hiked all the way to one of the highest points of Marseilles to visit the basilica only to run back down the hill to make it on time for a three-hour boat cruise of the Calanques Islands, even made a small day trip to Aix-en-Provence to visit the lavender fields and the home of Paul Cézanne, and so much more. Our feet were always tired, bellies full from all of the good food, and spirits high from the conversations and memories our friends had made together.
One of my favorite moments during the trip was when we all pitched in to help cook a "family dinner" in our Airbnb. All seven of us met in our wooden apartment which used to be part of the old milling factory. We opened the tall industrial windows to let the cool air in then began our work. Kyle started boiling water for the pasta while Micah heated up the oil with oregano and basil for the tomato sauce. Meanwhile, I was helping Clare and Kira dice tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic, and onions for my toasted bruschetta recipes. Julianna and Jenny were in charge of the aux chord keeping the music going and then began setting the table for dinner. We all enjoyed our meal together, sipping on some homemade punch, and just talking enjoying each other's company. Every now and then our conversation would drift in and out of other topics like deconstructing how different our lives are back in the states, the anticipation of culture shock, or personal growth as we've grown up and experienced different things throughout life. We talked about anything and everything together. It's one of the reasons I loved traveling with these people so much. Being overseas on this crazy adventure for an intensive (and immersive) experience like this one, allowed us to bond quickly but also closer together. You don't realize what the impact it has on you. For me, I found that it gave us the freedom to have really deep profound conversations. Although we may not have known each other for long, people spoke with an ease that came from this mutual understanding that we had all been connected together in this unique way that was grounded in kindness, care, compassion, and love. A love for each other, for life, for travel and experiences. However we were defining our own sense of what drove us to be where we were, each one of us was so happy to just be in the presence of one another. That night will always be one of my favorite memories I think.
That's what I thought to myself as I stood there with my feet in the Mediterranean. When we come abroad, we come alone– each person from a different background and place around the world. However, we leave with new memories and life-long friends who for me have undoubtedly changed me for the better.
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<p>Hello Everyone! My name is Anna and I'm a senior at Luther College. I'm studying English and French as a double major. This fall semester, I'm joining the Nantes - French Language Immersion & Area Studies program for three months. I look forward to being able to take you along with me as I set off for this next adventure. I'm hoping to make some good connections, eat lots of food, and learn more about the Nantais while abroad. Some things I like to do in my free time are spending time with family and friends, cooking/baking, finding new places to visit locally or travel to, running and hiking, and having good conversations with new people. I'm a big extrovert so I love doing almost anything as long as it involves other people.</p>