It’s funny to think sitting down to write this last post how similar the conditions are to when I wrote my very first. I’ve just gotten off the phone with my boyfriend after a long day of exploring the city. I’ve got a cup of tea next to me and I’m listening to guilty pleasure songs from my Disney days (think “Sneakernight”). I was so nervous when I first arrived in Paris. I was intimidated by the winding streets of the city, unsure how to navigate the train system, and could barely remember where I lived. The fact that I was going to have to write fifteen entire blog posts about this experience terrified me. I felt like I barely had anything to say.
This deja-vu feeling lead me to look back at this first attempt at making sense of my intentions for my semester abroad. Just about five months ago I wrote “ I don’t like saying I came to Paris to ‘find myself’ because it feels more complicated than that. Maybe a new respect for the aspects of my life I take for granted? A realization that my current aspirations pale in comparison to new goals and ambitions?” Well younger self, let me tell you. I’m still working on it.
Looking back, the semester felt like it occurred in about a month, maybe two. There were periods that dragged for instance when I cried in a stale metro car cause I just really needed a 32 oz coffee and not three back-to-back espressos. I also had adventures wandering the streets of Paris at 2am, barhopping with friends, and meeting locals. My time here has been so packed full of day-to-day successes and trials that I haven’t had much time to reflect on these questions. But when I reread that post and I see how nervous I was, it feels like another person’s writing. While New York will always be my true love, my time in Paris has shown me what I’m truly capable of being. I found that I’m more independent than I thought I was. I take pride in the fact that I decided to go to Paris at 2am on a Saturday night in October. My ballsy choice to take a leap of faith landed me here, in a city where I’ve discovered a loves of cooking, the French language, and travel that I might not have otherwise. That younger me who was so scared to be here didn’t give herself enough credit. I’d already made the scariest choice.
Although I didn’t really articulate it in so many words in that first blog post, I think another insecurity of mine in deciding to come to Paris was the fact that I didn’t really feel old enough yet. I’ve always felt a little young for my age. I turned twenty in October but in my mind I was still eighteen. I think I’ve done a lot of growing up over this semester. I’ve had the opportunity to make friends in Paris who challenged and inspired me. I’ve also seen the best and worst of my friends at home, some of whom supported me through the thick and thin and others who faded away. I’ve also had the chance to broaden my horizon by venturing out into the city alone, experiencing the freedom of being able to decide who I am without other people’s preconceptions of me. Those things sound scary writing them down, but I think all these realizations have been such blessings. I got to grow up two years in a five month period in the prettiest city in the world (sorry NYC but I don’t love you for your looks). If that’s not a reason to go abroad, then what is?
À bientot, Paris.