After 27 hours of air travel with 3 lay-overs, I arrived at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport disoriented and a little confused. Being sleep-deprived, I’d lost track of time and space – I still thought I was in Paris Charles de Gaulle, where I spent my last few days in France. Hearing English and Christmas music added to my confusion because I was still used to hearing foreign murmurings and only catching a few words I understood.
The days leading up to our last day in Nantes was filled with tearful goodbyes or people expressing how much they didn’t want to return to their lives stateside. It was awkward, to say the least, when I couldn’t really relate to people saying how this semester was the best of their lives. Don’t get me wrong, this semester was wonderful, but it’s not like I was leaving something great for something horrible – my life at Bowdoin and my life in Nantes are both great, just in different ways. So, I wasn’t sad to be leaving France. I would be returning to my beloved friends and family, and I’m excited and inspired to do the things I want to do at school.
I was never a huge club or bar guy (is that even really the right way to experience a place??), so maybe that’s what people are talking about when they talk about “leaving the best time of their lives.” Of course, I’m being cynical, but I sadly think there’s a little truth in that.
Of course there are things I miss. I miss sitting street-side at cafes, watching people go by. I miss hearing the beautiful French language everywhere I went. I miss exploring and discovering new places.
But this doesn’t translate into a depression. If anything, it inspires me to be more adventurous, to explore new places within my own hometown or not be afraid to try new things. It also makes me not afraid to live abroad and travel extensively – there is still so much I have left to do and see. And it’s not goodbye to France or Nantes – I’ll be returning one day.
Living abroad allowed me the precious time to think – to re-evaluate and re-direct – because when you’re traveling you focus on only the present and immediate future; you cut out the excess and unnecessary from your life in order to fully take in what is right in front of you. What better way to live your life than to live in the moment, to soak in your surroundings?
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">I'm a third-year student at Bowdoin College studying Visual Arts and dabbling in anything else that seems interesting. Always carrying around a camera, I'm one to believe that even the smallest moments are ones we should preserve. I've been to France before, but I was unfortunately too naïve and young to appreciate it. I'm hoping this time I'll be able to thoroughly experience the Nantais way of life, and have the musings and photos to share with you all along the way.</span></p>