Well, the day has arrived. The day that I have been looking forward to for weeks is nearly here. I am less than 12 hours away from being on a train heading to Paris where I’ll catch my flight back to the United States. Wow. Yes, I have been looking forward to this day since 2011 started, but now that is nearly here, I can’t help but not want to leave. It is the end of an era of sorts. A very short era, but an era none-the-less. Four months living in a foreign country, learning and speaking the language, eating the food and enjoying their culture. There are no complaints though, this was probably the most amazing experience I have had the chance to take part in.
Going into this study abroad experience I had, not low, but I would say different expectations than what really happened. I’m not sure I saw this whole thing realistically enough before leaving. Simply put, what I expected to leave France with and what I’m really leaving France with are NOT the same. They are not equal in any way whatsoever. What I thought I knew about the world coming in was thrown on its head. I learned so much more than just the language. Anyone reading will most likely think to themselves that I sound like one of those people they quote in the study abroad brochures or info guides. And I do sound like one, but it’s cause I know it’s true now I guess.
There is no better way to learn about what’s around you than to get out and experience it. Montana is a great place, but it is NOT the world. Washington State University is an amazing place, but the Palouse just doesn’t carry the cultural diversity of southern France. The news on TV only takes our understanding of Europe to a certain level. Living in and with Europe and Europeans changes the whole perspective you carry on who they are, what they’re like and your opinion on them. After I get back and I start putting things down into words, I will post a final review and summary of experience. But until then, suffice it to say that I am bummed to go. I will miss all the friends here in southern France. From the Germans to the English to the French to the kid who happens to be all three, to the Canadians to fellow Montanans, I will miss them and their multicultural diversity and fun and shenanigans. It was an amazing semester, one that I will always remember fondly. It was a semester of firsts and new starts, including the beginning of my real global education. Who knows where that will end up.