First Time Out of the Country that Isn’t My Country

Meghan Mclaughlin
October 8, 2018

Following an adjustment period of about a week and a half, Paris became my home, or at least my European home. Between occasional weekend excursions to neighboring countries, Paris is my home base, where I feel most comfortable and where I can unwind.

So, when it came time to break out of France and travel to Dublin after three weeks in Paris, it surprised me how I got somewhat homesick, but not for Home in Seattle. I was homesick for Paris. 

I had developed a routine in Paris. My roommates provided me with comedic relief between classes and we were victorious when the man who works at the local crepe stand began bantering with us in French while Nutella wafted off the griddle. It’s the little things in life. 

Packing for a couple days in another country was a challenge. Packing light felt undoable. It’s different than vacationing in a different state for the weekend. I’ve discovered I will never complain about my bag being too light, so in this (suit)case, less is more. 

Giving myself ample time to get to and from Charles de Gaulle, which is over 20 miles away from my apartment, made the process less stressful. A good playlist also helped relax me during the hour and a half train ride to the airport.

Don’t get me wrong, I adored Dublin. The gray weather reminded me of Home and the Irish were friendly in a more familiar, American way than many of the French I’ve interacted with. The accommodations were comfortable, and the food was simple but delicious. The city was lively and filled with street performers covering ‘80s hits like “This Must Be the Place.”

It felt like it really was the place. But it still wasn’t Paris. 

I anticipated always harboring a soft spot for Paris after studying abroad there. Yet I was surprised to find my attachment to the city so promptly formed. I flashed back to my first ten days in Paris during which I questioned why I decided to study abroad there, or study abroad in general. Now, I feel like I’m betraying Paris every time I leave it.

Making the most of the proximity of other countries while abroad is fun and intriguing. However, settling into a home base for the duration of the study abroad experience is even more meaningful.

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Meghan Mclaughlin

<p>I am a communication and political science student from Seattle, WA. I love my family, friends and hydrangeas. I'm a sucker for 80s movies and crossword puzzles. Although I'm essentially lactose intolerant, my love for ice cream overrules my dietary restrictions.</p>

2018 Fall
Home University:
Santa Clara University
Seattle, WA
Political Science
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