It’s not easy to leave a place you have called home for four months. Fortunately, the parting process is eased by the knowledge that I can bring back souvenirs; it’s not so hard to leave Nice when I know that there are parts of it I can bring home with me. The Provençal lavender soap I bought precisely because it’s touristy, a bracelet from Eze village that’s the same color as the Mediterranean Sea, and the scarf I purchased in January to fit the French style are all great reminders of my time in Nice. However, the best things I’m bringing back with me are things that don’t exactly fit in my suitcase.
In fact, in a literal sense, precisely because I could not pack everything, one important value that I’m bringing back to America is a weakened appreciation for material objects. On the morning before I left Nice, I was inevitably doing some last minute packing when I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to fit everything. In a frenzied panic, I started creating a pile of things I could do without: the robe from TJ Maxx, the travel pillow and blanket, a hand-me-down sweater, and my tarnished pair of sneakers. Any other time I would have been so worried about wasting these things or not being able to go on without them. However, after living with a fraction of my wardrobe for a semester, I’ve come to think that more possessions are more of a burden.
Sadly, humans don’t meet the weight limit for most airlines, which means I can’t take my friends home with me either. That doesn’t mean I’m not bringing back plenty of meaningful relationships though. After constructing a social environment and network of peers over the past four months, it’s a weird transition to go from seeing these close friends every day to possibly never seeing these people again. Regardless of whether our interaction was brief or extended, I’m continually astounded by how much of an impact another person can have on another. Even though I’m leaving good friends behind, I’m confident that I’ll keep in touch with these people and I’ll always be grateful for having met them.
Another intangible I’m bringing home is an obsession with being bilingual. Even though I’m still undecided whether I will continue studying French (only because of practical reasons but, trust me, I would continue if I had unlimited time and money), I’ve developed a fascination with the idea of being able to speak two languages. I just think it’s so cool. I plan on continuing my French in informal ways and enrolling my children in a dual language program from a young age, if possible. I learned that a second language opens up unforeseen doors, gives you an edge when traveling, and increases cultural sensitivity.
I am also returning home with a heightened appreciation for differences. Having lived in a foreign culture for an extended period of time, one naturally becomes more perceptive of the cultural variations. My experience has taught me to notice the slight alterations in the way people interact and I’ve cultivated an anthropological lens that sees differences as interesting rather than negative. Furthermore, it’s precisely these cultural differences and, more generally, exposure to new experiences, that I found so stimulating about my time abroad.
In conjunction with this, I am bringing home the intention to reach out to international students at my home university. Now that I’ve experienced what it’s like to live in a foreign country, I can empathize with the plight of other international students. I know what it’s like to feel ostracized or utterly unsure at times. Remembering how appreciated the people who were friendly to me in those moments were, I hope to return the favor by being helpful or kind to people who are struggling in the same way by getting more involved in my campus’ abroad office.
While I’m sad to leave a place where I’ve constructed a life for myself, I feel confident moving on, knowing that the absolute best parts that Nice could have imparted on me can never be lost or damaged because I have the power to carry them with me wherever I go.
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<p>My name is Rosemary Newsome, and I am studying abroad in Nice, France! I study finance and political science at TCU. For me, there is always something new out there to learn, make, do or play, and studying abroad in Nice offers a whole new arena in which I can do that. If you want to learn about the triumphs & trials of a bright-eyed, goofy, restless, and French cuisine-loving girl, follow me as I immerse myself in the culture of a Riviera lifestyle!</p>