It’s finals week here in Nantes, and it’s not just difficult to get through because of the tests. It’s that on Saturday morning I’m going to wake up, go to the airport, and get on a plane back to Los Angeles.
I’m not ready to leave. At all.
I’m doing everything I think I can do to prepare. Many of my afternoons have revolved around prowling through the Marché de Noël, finding Christmas presents for my family and sipping hot wine. My bucket list has only a few unchecked items. Every single thing I do here feels like it’s the last time ever. My last Saturday night, last classes, last rainstorm…
I’m starting to pack (mentally at least) and looking around my bedroom it’s hard to figure out how I’m going to fit my entire life back in a purple suitcase. I don’t like this leaving business. Not at all. It feels weird and wrenching, closing an entire chapter in my life, one I don’t want to leave and know I can’t come back to. It’s never going to be this easy to travel Europe, speak French, see my host family. In a few days, I have to say goodbye to the city that feels like home, and the people who feel like family.
On a lighter note, I think I’m going on a lunch cruise on the Erdre river this Friday. My host mom recommended it, and since the boats are docked decently close to our house, it seems like a good idea. True, the appetizer dish is fish-based (and I do hate fish) but that doesn’t matter! I’m going to go sailing and see some castles!
I should probably send the postcards I bought weeks ago. It seemed like a good idea, sending family and friends postcards a little over the halfway mark in the semester, but now if I send them they probably won’t arrive until I’m back in the country. Lesson learned: focus on postcards earlier.
I also have yet to visit the Cathedral, but in one of the afternoons between exams I’ll find time. I have a few more gifts to buy (maybe one or two for myself, to help the leaving pains). I’ve also been bringing my camera everywhere with me, taking pictures of everything I walk past on my way to school, what I’m eating, gingerbread stalls at the Marché de Noël. Right now it barely seems real, but I know that when I get home I’m going to look back over these pictures over and over again, remembering what this semester felt like.
I’ve become so independent and confident here that I’m scared to go back. With public transportation, I can go anywhere in Nantes, anytime I like. I don’t have a car in the US, and I hate driving anyway, so I have to rely on friends. Traveling feels so much easier here, and with the trips I’ve planned and executed I feel like I’ve become an entirely different person from the one who hugged her mom goodbye at LAX just a few months ago. I’ve gone outside my comfort zone, fulfilled dreams I’ve nurtured for years, and built a life in Nantes.
And on Saturday, I have to give it up.
I’m scared of losing the person I am now when I go home. I like the version of me who volunteered to be in a play, who takes disasters and turns them into weekends in Italy, who figures out trains and buses and how to get to castles, who takes dramatic selfies in Volterra overlooking Tuscany, who speaks French even when French people try to speak English to her, who has a favorite boulangerie, a Université de Nantes ID, and a coat pocket carrying old Paris metro tickets. I don’t want to fall back into the comfort of home and lose everything I’ve found here.
I’m trying to stay present in these last few days, to enjoy every last second, but emotion is constantly sneaking up on me, reminding me that time is running out. But now I have a Gastronomy final, so it’s time to ignore my feelings and write about some cheese!
More Blogs From This Author
<p>Hi! My name is Suzan Frierson and I'm a junior at the University of Redlands. I'm a Creative Writing major and French minor, and the language inspired me to study abroad in Nantes. I love traveling, writing, and going on adventures.</p>