After France… Now What?

Winter quarter has officially started at Western, and it has been 17 days since I said goodbye to Lyon.

While I’m really excited to be back with my friends, and living the university life again; I’m still adjusting to life back in the states. Four months doesn’t seem very long, but it felt like a lifetime at the same time. Everyone has been asking me, “so… how was France?” My answer now is that it feels like a dream, and it truly does. But it was one of the truly remarkable and amazing times of my life.

A lot of people have asked me if I think I’ve changed, and I don’t think so. I feel more confident, and I feel that I’m more willing to take risks now, however, I don’t think that that’s something that’s changed about me. I think that those feelings have always been there, and studying abroad just allowed me to unlock that part of myself.

Studying abroad is one of the most rewarding things a student can do. The opportunity to discover new cultures, meet new people, and just take those chances that you wouldn’t take ordinarily… it’s difficult to put into words, but it’s a really wondrous, eye-opening thing.

If anyone is considering studying abroad, my advice is just to submit your application and do it. You won’t regret taking time for yourself; to discover who you are outside of the comfort of your friends and family, the USA even. Taking time to get to know more of the world that we inhabit. Just take the shot, trust me. It will be hard, but it will be worth it.

As my time abroad was drawing to a close, I had already decided to study abroad again. That’s the type of amazing impression it left on me. I want to take those risks again, learn new things about the world, others, and myself all over again. I’ve been doing research into new programs to check out, and I can’t wait until the day when all is decided again, and I can hit submit on a new application and open that new door, and I want other students to see that it’s not as hard as one may think.

I came into university knowing I wanted to study abroad, but not knowing if it would be possible. After doing it, I realized that if I had had someone talking to me about the possibilities before university, I may have done it even sooner, and I did it pretty fast once I did learn more. That’s why, when my old high school teacher asked me to speak in class I knew I was going to do it, and I haven’t given a full presentation for the students yet, but when I visited and the kids heard about my time abroad and their faces all lit up, I got excited just knowing how excited they must feel, how I felt in high school about studying abroad.

This program has truly affected me. From the sense of wonder I felt pre-departure; the excited nervousness of just wanting to be there already, and the crazy thought that it was really happening. To the complete bliss I felt while there (besides the occasional instance, of course) everyday I really had to remind myself of where I was, and that feeling of amazement was returned anew. Now? Now it feels really surreal, but I look back and I smile when thinking about all of the amazing adventures I had, because it truly was quite an adventure.