I am officially back in the United States. It’s been almost two weeks since I said goodbye to France and even less time since I left Europe as a whole. After our last day of exams, our IES Abroad center threw a farewell party for us students. While it was a small group of us in attendance, it was still nice to get to say goodbye to everyone who came. Plenty of snacks were provided and I got to try a few other desserts I hadn’t gotten around to yet. Our center director also gave everyone a little Eiffel Tower keychain; I kept saying I was going to buy one of them for myself, but it turned out I didn’t have to!
I chose to stay another week after our program officially ended. My mom came out to visit and travel around after I was finished. It was fun getting to take a few day trips in France that I hadn’t done before—we took the train to Giverny and explored Monet’s gardens in addition to visiting Auvers-sur-Oise which is where Vincent Van Gogh spent the last few weeks of his life. I especially liked Auvers-sur-Oise because while it is technically a part of the Paris region, it’s a small town that was significantly less busy than it is in Paris, that meant I got the chance to chat (in French) with some of the people I met without feeling rushed.
We ended my study abroad time in Amsterdam. It was great getting to check one last country off the list, but it also made saying goodbye to Paris feel extra weird. Every time I’d traveled to a different country before, I knew I was coming back to my room in the 16th arrondissement; however, that wouldn’t be the case this time. I had to drag around all of my stuff from the last three and a half months as we boarded a train to the Netherlands. While I do wish (just a tiny bit) I’d ended my time in Europe in my host country, I wouldn’t actually want to change what I did.
After a whirlwind two days in Amsterdam featuring the must dos of food, architecture, and museums, it was time to head home. The Schipol airport is one of the busiest international airports in the world, so we were a bit nervous about getting there early enough to avoid any issues. With only a minor snag in security, we were off in the terminals. I got to try one more country’s Starbucks (I still think they all taste exactly the same) before heading off on the 8-hour flight home. I got to watch a ton of movies, even a few that were released while I was away that didn’t make their way to any French movie theaters. Following a layover, one more flight, and an hour drive, I was back home.
It's a bit strange being back in the United States. I’ve gotten so used to the public transportation systems and walking that is typically for Paris that having to drive myself everywhere feels unusual and not the regular thing that it really is for me. Since being back I’ve been able to reconnect with friends who I really missed while I was away and get caught up on the shows that weren’t available in France. Everyone I run into wants to know how Paris was and, while I’m the first to admit there were some hard times, overall, I would go again in a heartbeat. I loved my host city and even with the troubles there were far too many high points that outshine the lows.
À bientôt Paris!
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<p>Bonjour! My name is Julianna Caskie (she/her) and I am from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I’m a junior at Lehigh University studying political science with minors in both architecture studio as well as women, gender, and sexuality studies (strange combo, I know). In my free time I love to read, travel, dance, and compete in Mock Trial tournaments with my team. I can’t wait to share my journey in Paris with you!</p>