“Au revoir” implies “Until we meet again”Paris BIA, Fall 2011

It’s roughly 2:30 am, just about seven hours before I take a cab to Charles de Gaulle airport and continue making my way back home to the States. In these finals hours, it is difficult to describe exactly how I feel. Bittersweet, I guess would be the best word. Of course, I’m excited that I’m going home to be with my family and friends and that it’s the holidays soon, but on the other hand I’m leaving behind new friends and a new “home”. It really is a baffling thought that the streets I’ve walked, the house I’ve lived in, and the people I’ve spent time with almost everyday for the past three and half months will all be far away come tomorrow. So, how do I cope? Well, for the moment, I’m not quite sure. About a week ago, the director at IES Paris BIA hosted a re-entry info session designed to educate us about a completely foreign concept to me known as “reverse culture-shock”. Basically, it is the process of re-adapting to your familiar culture after you have been immersed in another for an extended period of time. I’m still trying to get a grasp on what reverse culture-shock actually is, but I suppose I won’t really understand until I’m home and experiencing it (I’ll be sure to do a blog post about it). For the moment, I find that I can’t shake the dreadful notion that once I return home, being away from this city, the people I’ve come to know, and the language that I am more familiar with will make this experience feel like a dream, a memory of something that never really happened...but then I realize that this is a ridiculous notion. Yes, the surroundings of the experience will be gone, but the imprint they have left on me will always be present. I have really learned so much from my time here while facing the challenges of adapting to a new culture, communicating in a different language, making new friends and finding my way in a foreign city. I truly believe that I am a wiser, more mature and confident person as a result of my time in Paris. For that, I am indescribably grateful… This is all I can say for now as I am still processing that my study abroad experience is coming to a close…but to quote Semisonic, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” So, here’s to always carrying your experiences and life lessons with you, wherever you go. Bonne nuit, Paris. Je sais que c’est pas le dernier fois.  
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