Saying goodbye to Paris is every bit as bitter and unwelcome as I believed it would be when I first arrived 5 months ago. In that short time, Paris has become my home both physically and emotionally. I have settled into my habits, found my preferences and think of certain places as “old haunts” even if I’ve only been going to them for a few months. The Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomphe now only make me pause for a second to marvel, instead of filling me with wonder like they did my first few weeks. I am no where near taking Paris for granted, but now I view such things as a part of the beautiful landscape of this beautiful city, not just tourist attractions.
I honestly believe that studying abroad has been one of the most wonderful personal experiences that I have ever had. I only wish that I could stay longer, that I could do and know more about this beautiful city. The most rewarding part of my time here has been learning French and figuring out how to get around in a foreign city. Though it is certainly possible to get along without speaking French in France, it is not nearly as fun and it certainly isn’t the same experience. Being able to speak French, even if it isn’t perfect, opens up so many possibilities. It also allows you get to know the people who live in Paris as well as the city, listening to their conversations with friends and such. Every successful conversation comes with pride at being able to communicate in a completely different language to your mother tongue. Though it is my greatest accomplishment, speaking French was also my greatest struggle. I wish that I had done more of it, but my fear of messing up and misspeaking prevented me from engaging many times. In the end though, most people were happy just that I was speaking French and making efforts to communicate with them, and many even gave me small tips and tricks to help me along my way. Many people say that Parisians are mean or rude, but I since coming here I have never felt that was the case. I definitely wish that I had been able to get out more and interact with more Parisians and more of Paris.
I think that I have become more independent after living in Paris. There are so many things that I’m used to in the States, from 3G, to everything in English, to simple familiarity. I didn’t have a lot of those things at one point or another when I was in Paris. I hope to take this new sense of freedom and confidence back with me when I’m in New York. I also hope to continue on my friendships with the people I met here. I feel that I’ll always have a connection with both this place and the people who I experienced so many new things here with. There’s something special about study abroad, from the places to the people. I hope that I will continue to appreciate that as I continue on my education.
(photo is mine, from a trip to the gardens at Giverny)