Bonjour de New York,
It is hard for me to put into words how magical my study abroad experience has been so I will resort to borrowing a line from Natalie, our program director. She said, “If you return, Paris will be home again. You will know how to take the metro and where to buy shoes (dans le Marais!).” Thank goodness for Natalie and Laurie, Lucille, Peggy, Chris, et Celine who helped us feel a sense of belonging in this new city. There was no need for tearful “last visits” because we can always come back home to France. We haven’t said goodbye to Paris, we said à bientôt, see you later.
During our last class, my French professor returned a worksheet that we had filled out on the first day of class. It held my naive answers to questions like, “What are your fears of being in Paris” and “What are your goals while studying abroad”. Turns out, I did most of what I set out to do and I conquered fears that I had totally forgotten about, like trying different foods.
Escargot is wonderful but I still haven’t tried rabbit.
It’s crazy to think that I was once scared of taking the metro. Now, I’m comfortable enough to debate whether or not transferring trains twice would be faster and worth the trouble. By looking at this worksheet of my thoughts and concerns from less than five months ago, I know for a fact that I have grown. C’est incroyable! (It’s incredible!) Studying abroad ensures that you will grow in one way or another and that in itself, is a success.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to grow and acquire skills that will “benefit me interpersonally and professionally,” as Natalie said.
You learn how to tackle situations with an open mind. For instance, waiters aren’t trying to be rude, they are simply experts at sarcasm (just say no when they insist on vodka during lunch).
You learn to adapt quickly. A quick “bonjour” can go a long way.
And, you learn to communicate across cultures and find common ground. Donald Trump for president? Well, if he studied abroad, he would probably be more tolerant.
In Winnie the Pooh’s story, A.A. Milne wrote, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” I fell in love with wining and dining and I didn’t think I would ever be ready to leave Paris. On the plane ride back, I was seriously depressed. On a side note,I bought some macarons at the airport before leaving. It’s the cheapest place to get them because they are duty-free!
Unlike my friends, the realization of having to leave didn’t hit me until I was in line waiting to check my bags. I had finals up to my very last day in Paris so I was focused on memorizing things like “who designed the skeleton dress” and “what is the café society”. My friends, on the other hand, dealt with leaving in their own way. Adriana had a countdown and Cassidy, who had been studying abroad for a year now, was in total denial. No one wanted to go “home” home.
On the plane, I sat next to a single mother and her son who I didn’t really talk to until we landed. Since we sat at the very back of the plane, we were stuck waiting for everyone in front of us to get their bags and leave. This is when the mother asked if I was visiting or coming home. I told her about my amazing semester abroad and returned the question. She told me she had saved up from working at Disney to take her son to New York for his eighteenth birthday. Having lived in New York for so long,I have gotten so used to seeing the Empire State building and the Statue of Liberty. Yet seeing the two of them light up talking about New York landmarks like I did about the Eiffel got me excited to be in another bustling city, full of things to see and do and learn. The adventure never ends!
Paris, I will be back!
Merci beaucoup beaucoup,
PS. I actually do have to go back. I kept getting distracted by the tarte au(x) pommes/framboise/citron and pain aux chocolats and long story short, I forgot to try the éclair…
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<p>Salut! Je m'appelle Gwen. I am a sophomore at Babson College and currently about 11% fluent in French. I hope to remedy that while wining and dining in the beautiful city of Paris. I am majoring in Business with a focus in Marketing. Follow along my stories to experience the ups and downs of studying abroad à Paris!</p>