Four (Perfect) Months in Paris; a Farewell and a Thanks.Paris, Spring 2012

I suppose that was fast, just like everyone said it would be. I had my fair share of warnings about how quickly my semester abroad was going to go by, and now I’m back stateside, sitting in my suburban home with my laptop on the kitchen table. It certainly has begun to sink in. Four months in Paris couldn’t have been better spent. Though it seems crazy to me that I’m back in America now, I can’t really pretend that it flew by. It was four long months in Paris, four worthwhile, jam-packed, and amazing months in Paris. Time passed, like it always does, but I have to admit that I am very satisfied with my time abroad. I have done and seen and eaten and said and learned so much, I can hardly say it went by “like that” (with a snap of the fingers).

January was short and crazy, full of awkward restaurant interactions and long metro rides. February was absolutely freezing, but I was getting accustomed to my down jacket and triple layered leggings. But it was March, oh March, that really sealed the deal. Sunny and 70 (or, is that 20 in Celsius?), picnics in every park in Paris, skirts and light sweaters, it was magnificent. April brought me my travels: First Nice and Monaco, then Spain and Portugal. Though, April also brought the rain. May was short and sweet. Said my goodbyes to IES on the 4th and flew away to Greece (and then Italy) for 10 days. It was halfway through that post-IES vacation that I realized where my home was, and how established I had become over those four long months. I was homesick, pure and simple. I couldn’t wait to get back to Paris (where I returned for 5 days before my flight back to the States), and to say a real goodbye to the city that embraced me for those four long months.

I know that studying abroad was an enormous privilege; I was so damn lucky to be able to pull myself together, pull my economics together, pull my academics together, etc enough to go. Still, I can’t help feeling sort of proud of myself for making it through it. It was hard, man! I hardly spoke French when I arrived at CDG Airport! I was alone! I was in the middle of a pretty heavy heartbreak, and I was in a dark, busy city with homework in another language and class at 9AM! I began relying more heavily on my new friends, my housemate, my photography, and several books to keep it all together in a neat little abroad-life package. And it worked! I learned a lot about Paris this semester, but I also learned a lot about myself. For example, I know that pasta is the best food in the world and that I can make a mean fried zucchini. ☺ I also learned enough French to have idiomatic phrases stuck in my head to this day. (Favorites include: “Pas mal!”, “Ça veut dire…”, and “à cause de/grâce à…”).

And then there’s the academics… No offense IES, but I didn’t necessarily have super high hopes for my course load this semester. I sort of figured it would be hard and boring and nearly incomprehensible (it’s in French after all!). But, I ended up loving the course offerings and professors so much that I couldn’t pick one to drop that the beginning of the semester to make room for an outside class. I may not have gotten that experience, but I don’t regret it for an instant. My IES classes were so great, and the professors were so helpful and really quite fun. Plus, I learned so much!

So, at the end of four long months in Paris, all I have to say is Thanks. To my parents, to my college, and to the staff at IES for making it all possible. I will truly never forget it. How could I?

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