One Year Later (Reflections on Studying Abroad)

Thursday, August 27, 2015

August 28, 2014. For most people, it was just another Thursday. For some people, school had just started and life was back to normal. 

For me... August 28, 2014 marked the day I left on the best adventure I have ever had. On that day, I flew from Denver to Washington DC, and then from Washington DC to Paris, France. 

If you have followed by blog for a while, you may remember that I studied abroad in Caen, a town in Lower Normandy, France. It's about two hours Northwest of Paris, and about 30 minutes away from the English Channel (La Manche). I chronicled those four amazing months of my life on this very blog, and if you want to read about the adventures that I had while on the other side of the pond, click here. There are also a lot of pictures of food. It's fine. #camembertfordays

In some ways, it feels like I just left France. The past 8 months have flown by! I'm about to start my last year of college, I have a job, and I'm moving in just a few short weeks. How did any of that happen?!

I studied abroad in France for one simple reason: I LOVE France. There has always been a general fascination, as I remember watching Madeline when I was a little girl, and I started taking French as my foreign language in middle school, despite the fact that my family is Puerto Rican, I live in Denver, and Spanish would have been the logical (and perhaps more helpful) choice. I am lucky enough to say that I could have studied abroad virtually anywhere in the world... Prague, Mongolia, Chile, South Africa, Tanzania, Madagascar. Destinations that have a permanent place on my Wanderlust list.

But how could I have said no to the one place I have always loved? The one place that I have dreamed about incessantly? 

How could I have said no to France? 

I miss it. I miss it every day, all the time, and sometimes so much it hurts. I miss my host family. I miss Caroline, my program manager and literal Godsend. I miss the friends I made there. I miss the woman from Memoranda. I miss my favorite professor. I miss sandwiches under the stairs, and macarons from the green boulangerie, walking through the chateau, and taking the train to Paris on weekends. I miss the stationery store, and Clairefontaine notebooks. I miss café au laits, and crepes by the beach. 

I considered making a "Four Things I Miss About France" list... but that just seems so fake. I owe so much to my time in France. As cliché as it sounds, I changed so much abroad, as did many of my friends who also studied abroad. I became much more confident while I was in France. I think I proved to myself that I was a capable person - I could not only exist in a new country, but thrive and feel at home and at peace. I love the quote, "when you feel a peaceful joy that's when you are near the truth." When I think about Caen, I feel a peaceful joy. 

Caen will always, always hold a special place in my heart and my life. I love it, I miss it, and I think about it all the time. France me manque, toujours, chaque jour, et dans chaque instant.

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