Ariel in Paris #11: Reflections

As I’m writing this, I still don’t know if this will be the last post in this series, but in any case, it’s the last week of my official study abroad program, so I wanted to take a moment to reflect on this semester and what a wild ride it has been.

Before I came here, I was scared. So scared, in fact, that if it wasn’t for the fact that the company running the program made me pay a very large (for me), non-refundable fee to hold my place, I might’ve backed out. Honestly, I thought about backing out anyway, in spite of the money that would go down the drain.

But I didn’t. Because coming to France, and specifically coming to Paris, has been my dream since I was in middle school and I started taking my first French classes, and maybe even before that. And, man, am I so very glad I didn’t back out.

Before I came abroad, everyone told me that it would change me, that it would make me see the world a different way, and that when I came back, I wouldn’t be the same person I was before. I don’t want to say I didn’t believe those people, because I did, but I guess I just didn’t really think it would be that big of a difference. I was wrong.

That’s not to say I’m a completely different person now, of course. I still love books and dogs and jeans and writing. I still have a love/hate relationship with the Internet, and I still use it to procrastinate far too often. I’m still an introvert who likes spending time at home more than going out (though I’ve left my house much more than I normally would while I’ve been here, for obvious reasons).

But I do feel different, and I think that I probably won’t truly understand just how different I am until I go back home and come face-to-face with the way I used to be. Even now, though, thinking about who I was at the beginning of the semester and who I am now, I can see differences. I’m more independent, more confident, and less afraid of speaking French.  I’m more adventurous. I would like to think I’m more responsible.

I’ve made so many amazing new friends and visited so many places that blew my mind with the amount of history and beauty they held. I’ve learned so many new things about French culture, the kinds of things that a classroom just can’t teach, mostly by doing a lot of very obviously not French things and getting weird looks for it. I’ve dealt with being way too close to way too many strangers on a metro and with the many, many, many metro closures due to strikes (hey there, Yellow Vests).

All of these things have changed me, for the better, I would like to believe, and I would never trade this experience I’ve had for anything in the world.

Thanks for reading this incredibly sappy monologue, everyone. I’ll see you next time.

-Ariel

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