Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The City of Lights Will Always Shine

Even after the novelty of being in Paris has worn off, the City of Lights has not lost its gleam.

It has been a month and a half of Parisien living and I can honestly say I am not tired of it. Granted, it has been a little harder lately. It has really struck me that I am thousands of miles away from my family, my boyfriend, and my friends. While it seemed like these six weeks flew by, when I stop running and take a moment to think about it, its really is a formidable amount of time. A lot can happen in a month and a half if you think about it – the world can completely change in less time than that!

It’s really got me thinking about how much I am changing as a result of living abroad, essentially on my own. What if, when I come back to the US, the people who used to love me will no longer recognize this newly-Europeanized person I (hopefully) will have become? For better or for worse, I am changing every day.

It is safe to say that the slightly empty and gnawing feeling, known as homesickness, has begun to manifest itself in my gut. Staying in touch is harder than expected with different schedules, time zones, and sleep cycles. Sometimes you just need to remind yourself that just because you don’t talk, it doesn’t mean that they don’t think about you or wonder how your day is going. Sometimes it really is true that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or, at least, that is what I am hoping for.

I am already past the halfway point in the class portion of my program. While the workload can sometimes feel overwhelming, I love that I am getting to learn about the effect of colonialism and post-colonialism on Paris and about the politics of the Fifth Republic of France. These are classes that I would have never gotten to take if I stayed on the BU campus for my entire college career.

If there is anything I am gaining while abroad it is perspective. Perspective on a country different on my own, on how to maintain contact, on how to stay connected to home while still making the most of my time here.

One of the things that really help with missing home is seeing a familiar face. Luckily, a visit from my sorority sister, Casey, who is doing a study abroad program in London (and will be covering the Olympics there this summer - so proud!), was just the medicine I needed. It was nice to know that, even with our different lives abroad, when we were reunited, we just continued our friendship where we left off. This definitely helped me with any fears I had of integrating back into my Boston life post-semester abroad. Not to mention, familiarity is just a comfortable feeling.
Casey and I at Trocadero which, in my opinion, is the best view of the Eiffel Tower!

Despite slight hiccups after coming down off the high of my first month or so in Paris, I always come back to the same conclusion – Paris is amazing and I am living the dream, right now.

While here, I have discovered the new alternative to Taco Bell or T. Anthony’s for drunk food – nutella or jambon-fromage crepes! Specifically made by our lovely Algerian friend, Karim, near Bastille who has golden hands when it comes to making this French delicacy (#teamkarim, unlike “fetch,” this phrase will happen). I have learned that mojitos with your girls is the best solution to anything and, if all else fails, Pierre Herme macarons will surely do the trick (I recommend the praline or rose bud flavors, absolutely to die for).

I have unfortunately learned that, when it comes to a foreign language, you need to be pretty positive about what you are saying; otherwise you might get unwanted results. For example, when trying to tell someone I felt hot and used the direct translation, “Je suis chaud,” I realized I had actually told them “I am horny.” Unfortunately for me, these French men found my friends and I absolutely charming after that and wouldn’t leave us alone for a bit. I guess you can say that this is a new way of making friends?

I am learning lessons each day. I am creating memories each second. I have come to the realization that being homesick is sort-of like emotional multi-tasking. When you are away from those you love back at home, you are able to appreciate your new experiences, while still thinking about and loving those you left behind, sensing their absence.

Life abroad is all about finding balance between your home life and your foreign life (which often time feels fake because it’s so unbelievable). Right now, I think I have my equilibrium steady.