Final FarewellNantes, Spring 2011

This post is more for me to be able to summarize the emotions I’m facing than to show pictures. Now that I have one day left in Nantes, I felt the need to reflect. I’ve heard that studying abroad is a life-changing experience. I expected to come to France, grow, and evolve into a better person. Realizing how much I’ve learned, and how this place actually feels like home, though, is still overwhelming. I can’t eloquently express how much this semester has affected me. Sitting here in my room, writing this on my last day, is completely surreal. I didn’t think I would grow this close to a group of strangers. Before I left, I had a vague, intellectual and spiritual picture of what I would feel like at the end of the semester. I didn’t imagine this feeling of HOME, though. It’s strange, but I feel like I’m graduating high school all over again. We spent four months together instead of four years, but in that amount of time, we had to support each other and spend time together. We had a common bond. We were/are all going through the same, new experience. I feel closer to some of the people in IES than I do to some people I’ve known for years.

I can’t imagine this semester without my host family. Without staying here, I can’t imagine having improved my language skills so greatly. I also couldn’t have asked for a more perfect fit. They treated me like their family, took me to family birthday parties and other events, and were always available. Tomorrow morning, they’re taking me to the train station to see me off.

I have no regrets concerning this semester. If anything, I wish I could stay longer. I miss my family and friends at home, but I’ve also made them here. I was excited to go home, and I still am, but the reality of what I’m leaving is starting to hit me. I don’t want to leave them behind or grow apart. But, as a friend recently quoted Dr. Seuss on her Facebook status: “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” We can have IES reunions. We don’t have to grow apart. And when I’m sad because I haven’t used French in a month and no one at home understand my franglais, I have a social networking site. I have email. This is kind of like high school; we’re all leaving to start a new chapter.

So, this post may be dripping of sentimentality, but I had to write it. On a lighter note, here are some of the things I will always think of fondly:

-French food: better yogurt, crepes, galettes once a week with my host family, bread, pastries, pistache macaroons, and cheap wine.

-Hearing, reading, understanding, and speaking French.

-The homeless man at the Fac and his cat.

-Sitting at the fountain in Place Royale, waiting for my friends to make it off their late buses or trams so that we can go out.

-Sitting in the park next to IES, soaking up the sun.

-All the parks in Nantes.

-Chateau des ducs de Bretagne.

-My morning walks to class.

-Sitting in the TV room at IES, pretending to do homework but really just talking to everyone else.

-Recognizing everyone’s clothes from H&M.

-Having stories about crazy incidents on public transportation.

-That rush when I don’t have a tram pass, but I’ve dodged les controlleurs. (Please buy a pass if you study abroad.)

-All of the amazing, loving, people I have met.

I couldn’t have asked for a more rewarding experience, program, and staff from IES Abroad.

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