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The Adventure Concludes

May 8, 2013

Well, Paris, it’s been fun. We’ll say our goodbyes tomorrow morning at Charles de Gaulle airport, where we said hellos exactly four months ago. I do hope you stay relatively sane while I’m gone.

I’ll be back. I promise.

I hope.

You’ve been incredibly good to me. I admit, sometimes you’ve been a bit of a b!%#^. But that’s okay, Paris. You’ve made it up to me many times. We’re cool.

Despite what I’ve said, I will miss this city so incredibly much. There’s nothing like it in the United States, and I hate that soon I’ll be a 10 hour plane ride away again. I’ll miss the people, the friends and the generous natives and the eager tourists. I’ll miss the languages, hearing French and Italian and Arabic and German and the ones I haven’t managed to identify. I will in fact miss failing at communicating in French, because at least I’ve had the chance, and I’ll miss successfully communicating in French even more. I’ll miss the baguettes and pains au chocolat and chaussons aux pommes, and I’ll miss trying to run the calories off between the Eiffel Tower and Ecole Militaire. I will so miss the sound that the Gare du Nord departure board makes when one train leaves and suddenly all of the tiles spelling the schedule whiz through the alphabet to spell the schedule minus the train that just left, and I’ll miss train stations and trains to new places so, so much. I’ll miss the adventures of various sizes. I’ll miss walking somewhere and seeing centuries of history and art and culture still alive today. I will miss living in Paris.

I don’t feel like being sad now, though I’m sure I could if I tried. I just don’t see the point (but don’t call me out on this if it changes tomorrow. My emotions should never be trusted to be reliable). There’s nothing I can do to stay here longer, and I’m not sure I want to. It has been a very, very good semester, and I do love this city. But I knew I had four months here, and I followed the story as such. I had a beginning, a middle, and an end here, and now it’s time for a close. An epilogue might come later. But now, it’s final chapter time.

(And, speaking of stories and writings: the blog. I’m not sure if I’ll keep it up once my study abroad is said and done and written. There are a few posts I’ve wanted to write, and I may, only I do like the conclusive feeling of this post. I could write about my internship this summer, though I’m not sure how comfortable I am publishing about a workplace. This blog served many purposes — mainly upholding my sanity and keeping a bridge between myself and family and friends back home. In journalism, if you don’t have solid reporting, it’s difficult to write a good article. I don’t want to try to write blogs with little valuable content. If you, lovely reader, have an opinion, I’d love to hear it.)

I’ve learned so much this semester — far more than journalism things. It’s weird to think that, as a 20-year-old, in a way, I’ve grown up in Paris. I’m not going to write about “discovering myself” and “life-changing experiences” and “becoming a new person,” because the study abroad experience, I believe, is often idealized and romanticized and seen as an utterly perfect way of life. It’s not. I still consider myself the same person as I was in January, only I panic less, probably much to the relief of my family. And, while this experience has so much value to me personally, I don’t think my life has any more value or meaning than that of someone who hasn’t studied abroad or traveled internationally. Adventures happen anywhere and everywhere, and lessons come from people connected to places, not necessarily places dry of life. Studying abroad didn’t give me super powers, and it didn’t give me an express pass when waiting in line to meet St. Peter. I continued living like anyone else, only I lived in Paris and saw a few more cultures than I would have back home. Am I grateful for what I’ve learned abroad? More than I can say. Would I have learned the same things had I not studied abroad? Not in the same way, and not as efficiently, but yes.

I will write, though, that I wouldn’t have traded this opportunity for the world. Well, maybe I would, because then I would have the easiest access to Europe ever, right? Even the biggest of challenges had a value, and while the pressure and loneliness and language barriers weren’t the most pleasant things to deal with, I came into this semester knowing there would be challenges and looking forward to overcoming them. That’s the only way to look at hard times, I think: as opportunities to succeed. And because of those, and because of all of the good times and for all the reasons I’ll miss it, Paris is a special place to me. And as excited I am to see my family and friends and America again, I will miss Paris dearly.

So I won’t say goodbye. Instead, I’ll say au revoir. Until we see each other again.

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