It feels as if it was yesterday when I was waiting at my gate at the JFK airport with tickets to Paris. I remember there were two flights schedule to depart back-to-back, one to Portland and one to Paris, which is ironic because if I wasn’t going to Paris I would have gone back to Portland to continue my junior year. I arrived in Paris, sleepy, tired, hungry, but ready to start that adventure. It is hard to do this final post and choose what to talk about because there is so much, it is something you must live to fully understand the experience. However, there are some key points that I found necessary to talk about.
First of, I need to say that study abroad sometimes is not that easy, it could be hard in many ways. My first two weeks in Paris I wasn’t so excited, in fact I was homesick, which was a little weird for me considering that I had been away from my family so many times before. Homesickness gets us all, but I learned that that is a beautiful feeling as well and it will only last a couple days because the Paris energy will get to you and the baguettes will brighten your day. Another down I had was that of living in city for the first time. It was hard at first to live in a place that is as bright on the night as it is on the day. It was hard to handle all the noises and chaos as well as so many people everywhere. It was hard to live in a city at first, but to every down there is also an up. I learned the city culture, how people live there, how this environment is special and even though it is not for me, I learned to appreciate it and enjoy it. I have to say that it was nice to just walk two minutes to get groceries and have thousands of options for restaurants and things to do.
Another hard part at the end of the program is saying bye to all those new friends you made. It is hard to know that when you are walking to your classes you won’t say "hi" to the lady who says “bonjour” to you every morning going down the street. It is hard to know that you will not dance with your friend at the park anymore. It is hard to know you might never be in the same class with your peers again because they all go to different colleges. Yes, it is hard! BUT it is important to know that you have the option to make it a “see you soon” rather than a “farewell.” Our program gave us a list of opportunities and things that we can do to come back to Paris, so who knows, I might find myself next year having dinner at my favorite restaurant or buying a baguette at that boulangerie I love.
As I already mentioned, it is hard to put all those emotions I’m having right now into words. It is hard to explain everything that happened, but if I can give some advice that would be to go study abroad, it is worth it. You might have ups and downs, but at the end it all balances out and one day you will be walking down the street of your host country, you will turn around and think to yourself “this is home.” Even though I was there for just one semester, Paris became one more place to call home due to the incredible memories I have there. Go study abroad, it truly will change your life.
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Martin Lopez Melendez
<p>My name is Martin and I am a 20-year-old student studying at Lewis & Clark College in Portland Oregon. I'm majoring in World Languages with my two main languages being French and Russian and minoring in dance. I was born in a small rural area in Mexico and immigrated to California when I was 13. At age 16 I embarked on a 2-year adventure at the United World College USA located in northern New Mexico. I love talking to people, seeing and learning about new places. In my free time, I love dancing, reading, working out, and spending time with friends. I am also a goat lover and consider myself a goat expert.</p>