The Last Hours

Suzan Frierson
December 17, 2016

Friday, December 16, 12:15pm: Dramatic title, but I'm feeling a little dramatic (the théâtre went to my head). It's Friday afternoon and my plane leaves tomorrow, and how much packing have I done? Very little, because I'm in denial. And on a boat.


Les bâteaux nantais are near the bridge by my house, and I've passed them every day on my way into school or to the centre-ville. At night they pass by, their lights flooding in through my bedroom windows. Of course I was curious. Then my host mom told me I should go on one of their cruises, so I looked it up. Now I'm on a lunch cruise that's about to depart in 15 minutes (as I write this). I got the cheapest option, with a fixed menu including salmon (I hate fish, but when it's a battle between fish and foie gras there's no winning), and duck. Well, I hope it's duck. I wasn't sure, and Google told me “canette” meant “can.” I'll make sure to enjoy my filet of can, wondrous Internet. I'll let you know how it is.


The main thing that pushed me into doing this was my host mom saying there were castles along the Erdre river. A lunch cruise sounds fun, but castles? That makes it worth it!!


12:22: One of my aperitif food things has fish in it. I can smell it. I don't want to be rude but I have to save myself so I can handle salmon.




12:50: The salmon has arrived. I live in fear.


1:14: If you can eat fish without wanting to hurl, you're a magical being.


We're passing one of the châteaux and this music is playing in the background: a choral arrangement, sounds fancy. Then it turns into a remix version. There's a nice voice telling us about the history of the river and its castles, but when he's not talking, the music is on.


The music in general has now turned very dramatic. Before we left it was jazz, and now it's all opera and major emotional choral pieces. It's so through-the-roof for a lunchtime history lesson...I love it so much.


2:36: I have exactly 23 hours and 59 minutes left in Nantes. It doesn't feel possible. I know the numbers, can almost see the clock ticking down in my head, but it doesn't feel real. It's like I just got can it already be time to leave?

2:52: I think it's starting to hit me now. The waiter asked if I was on vacation, and I said no...I've been studying here for months. I kind of live here.

4:53: I just got to IES Abroad to say my au revoirs. I bumped into a few classmates on the way here. It's so weird to think that next semester I won't see them in my classes or on campus. This is...I do not like this.

5:04: That was terrible and heartwrenching. 27/10 do not recommend leaving France.

6:49: After some shopping, I found a to-go Thai place. I took my Pad Thai down to the river and ate, staring out across the water, the boats, a snippet of the cathedral in the sky. I've spoken a lot of French today, and it's been pretty good French at that, so now I'm feeling bitter about leaving because I'm just starting to see how much improvement I'm making. Another semester and I'd be perfectly fluent...ha.

9:05: Well, I'm home. All my Christmas and souvenir shopping is done, my luggage is empty, and my room is an ungodly mess. I need to start packing. It's a daunting task, and fills me with fear as I think of all the gifts that could meet their ends shattering into a thousand pieces in my suitcase.


When I say goodbye to people--the staff at IES Abroad, the family whose kids I tutor--they tell me I could always come back and work in France, or study, or visit, and that makes me feel better. When they point out it's possible, I realize it is. Yes, I'm sad (borderline heartbroken) that this semester is coming to an end. I've changed so much as a person and done things I could never do in the US, so I don't know how to go back and be the girl who spoke French and traveled Europe. I know I can never come back to the exact place I am this semester, with my host family and school and classmates. Change is sad, and scary, but I hope one day in the future, when I graduate and win the lottery or figure out my life, I can go on a new adventure.

But I'm still going to cling to every last second of this one.


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Suzan Frierson

<p>Hi! My name is Suzan Frierson and I&#39;m a junior at the University of Redlands. I&#39;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>

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