I can’t believe my experience abroad is coming to an end. It seems like just yesterday I was hauling my 70lb bag up 4 flights of stairs. When I arrived to my apartment, I laid on my bed exhausted and jetlagged thinking; “it is going to be a rough 5 months on this hard mattress.” Now, when I travel I look forward to coming back to my little Parisian apartment, because it is my home.
The past few months I have had a lot of time to myself. Time I’ve used to reflect and think. If anything this is how I’ve changed. Going to a park and enjoying some alone time, going to dinner by myself, walking through a museum, or seeing a movie, doing things by myself isn’t awkward any more. I can enjoy myself without taking refuge in my phone. It is a good change and I think many could benefit from such time.
I have truly mixed feelings about going back. Paris, France, and Europe in general, are incredibly beautiful places. It is rich and diverse in culture and history. I know I will come back, and I hope to live here again some day. Honestly, I think I will have more reverse culture shock than anything. It will be weird going from barely understanding anything to being overwhelmed with a language I recognize. One thing I certainly hope to continue is my French language skills. It was shameful living in a country and barely being able to get by!
Every taste I get of art and culture leaves me wanting more. I decided to go abroad hoping to satisfy this need to experience more, but now I feel more desire than ever! I want to see the world. I want to experience other languages, cultures, and most definitely food. My thoughts of possibly living abroad permanently in the future are beginning to turn from ideas to plans, and one-day reality. I am sad to say “good-bye.” But now I know it is more of a “see you later.”
Michael is a student at Colorado State studying at Paris American Academy in France during the Spring 2014 term.