Saying goodbye has always been a difficult thing for me to say. I never want it to be “goodbye,” but rather “until next time.” This is how I felt when I said goodbye to my friends at the end of the summer before I left for freshman year, how I felt when I had to hug one of my best friends in high school goodbye after she left us at the end of her year abroad at our school, and to New York before coming here. All of these have been “until next time”s or “see you soon”s, even my friend who was abroad – we reconnected after three years over my spring break. The other two recurring goodbyes are manageable because I know when I will be back. I know at the beginning of every semester that I’ll be home soon; I know at the end of every semester that I’ll be back in just a few short weeks or months depending on the semester. But what is tough about saying goodbye to this semester is that I really am not certain when I’ll be back in Paris or France, let alone Europe. I know I’ll be back sometime, but I cannot put my finger on when exactly that will be. And that’s what makes it difficult.
It’s funny to think about where I was in the beginning of the semester, both physically, emotionally, and mentally. Coming to NYU Paris was both disorienting in that I had no knowledge of the city, how to navigate it, what was good, what I should avoid, how I should get around, and also that I didn’t really know anyone here. I was acquaintances with some, in an awkward place with a couple others, and it felt like being back in high school again. Here we are at the end of the semester and I’ve made a group of friends, I can navigate areas of Paris without even glancing at my phone (something I proved to myself when my friend was here this past weekend and I played tour guide), and I feel like I have somewhat of a grasp on Paris, like anyone would after living in a new city for four months.
Looking back at my initial post, I feel like I’ve accomplished most of the things that I threw out there for myself. I have become somewhat of a navigator of Paris, and somewhat of Europe with all of the travel I was able to do during the semester. I have fallen back in love with the world and seeing places. The world, in this sense, can be applied to many. I have fallen back in love with the world from which I came; my home. There are so many little things that I miss from home that I’ve come to appreciate more. There are things about New York that I miss dearly and cannot wait to return to this summer and fall. And then there are the things about America that I admitted miss, though definitely not the politics. I have fallen in love with the rest of the world, in that I have discovered things that I love about getting lost in the cities of Europe. I love the way that the French care about and take so much time on their food. I love the recognition that they have for the history of the streets and buildings of the city. I love the buildings in general across Europe, there is something so classic and timeless about the architecture that I cannot help but romanticize. I love how easy it is to travel from one place to another, either a short two hour flight, or a few hours on a train and you’re transported somewhere new and equally exciting. The list could go on and on.
These loves and realizations are a rewarding part about spending this semester abroad. I am proud to have challenged myself by putting myself out there as much as I could. I traveled alone, I saw new places, and I’ve gotten closer to becoming more myself, if that makes any sense at all. Being able to blog about these things for Art of Travel has make me take a few moments to reflect on different parts of the semester, which I’m honestly so grateful for. I don’t think I would’ve paused to think about them as much if it weren’t for this class. It also helped me maintain a daily journal, which I’ve successfully kept daily this entire semester and another accomplishment I’m proud of. I love the idea of being able to look back and read about each of the days I spent here, even if it was at home doing some work and venturing outside simply for food.
I am excited to go home. Extremely. But I won’t let this be a goodbye. This is going to be an open ended “see you later, Paris” because I can’t imagine not coming back. I don’t know when I will be back on these streets I now know so well, but I keep promising myself it’ll be soon. As I write these final words, “What A Wonderful World” is playing on Spotify and I can’t help but smile. I know it’s cheesy, but looking back at this semester, all the things that I’ve done, the places I’ve seen and the friends I’ve made – I do feel like it is a wonderful world.
- Musée d’Orsay: Anna L