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To a Month-Younger Self

February 8, 2013

8 January, 2013

Dear self,

Welcome to Paris! I remember the flight was relatively good as far as flights go, minus the final hour when the crying child could not be calmed. Oh well — you were too groggy from your half-sleep to notice.

You’re beginning your first day in the city, and I’m wrapping up the first month. You have quite the month ahead of you. I’m sure I have quite the three months ahead of me, and I still don’t know what to expect from them. It’ll be a good month, self. It’ll be hard. There will be new levels of difficulty in such unfamiliar territory — literally and figuratively. But you can’t go around them, nor over or under. Only way to go is through. And that’s a good thing, and the root of it all, and it’ll be a good month. You’ll need to learn things this month, things you need to remember during the hard times, and things I’ll probably need to remember for the remainder of the semester. And, most likely, afterwards.

The most important person you need to trust is yourself.  You know what is best for you.

People will tell you their expectations for your semester, and these expectations will be very high. You’re starting an experience that is culturally romanticized and idealized. Try not to pay any mind to the goals that don’t make sense for your situation. Do what is good for you. Just have fun.

Take care of yourself, mentally and physically  Don’t overexert yourself. When you’re sick, rest. Stretch your comfort zone, but don’t snap it. Push yourself, but trust your instincts, and don’t kick yourself if you can’t do everything, because you won’t be able to do everything.

People are very kind. Kindness doesn’t know nationalities and bias.

Have no guilt about exceeding the airline’s luggage weight limit. Bringing your own blanket was the smartest decision you ever made — probably after committing to this semester, though.

Things will happen at home, both good and bad. It will be just as hard as you thought it would be, not being there. Remember that the people should still be there when you return, and that’s what’s important.

Sometimes, your mood will follow the weather’s lead. Look forward to the sunny days, and make a point to do something on the rainy ones.

You’re not that good at cooking right now. Don’t worry; you’ll get better.

Talking to people at home will be very good because you’re really quite fond of them and very hard because you’re really quite fond of them.

You’re allowed to have bad days.

Determine which bits of the before to bring with you and which bits to leave back there.

You can’t do everything in one month. You can’t do everything in four. But months are very long, and you can do a lot in one.

Time moves at a different pace here. You probably won’t get used to it.

The French who speak English are self-conscious about doing so. Don’t feel bad about your self-conscious French.

People will pass judgement on you and your feelings. Why they feel the need to do so is unknown, but don’t pay them any mind. Unnatural feelings don’t exist this semester. They might not exist ever.

You can do many, many things. The hardest steps are the first — deciding and starting. After that, it’s like child’s play.

Your hair will hate you and the new water for the first few weeks. Just a head’s up.

The adventure won’t stop in May. Just be sure to use this time to learn how to adventure.

With love,

Deborah

8 February 2013

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