Well I have made it, and I can't believe it has been a year. Living abroad has been the craziest roller coaster of emotions and experiences I have ever packed into one time period. I have stretched my soul past boundaries of comfort and learned to be an ever present outsider.
Living only in your home country, you take for granted the ability to express yourself and feel intelligent. You don't even realize the comfort you have that no matter where in your country you travel you have an immediate sense of community; an eternal sense of camaraderie. As you throw yourself into a different nation you suddenly don't get the jokes, you don't understand the culture's mentality, and in my case can barely speak the language. But let me tell you how rewarding it feels to complete a personal goal of this magnitude. I can speak French and its incredible and it still makes me smile thinking about it. I love being able to carry on conversations with strangers and switch between English and French with no thought. This year has been without a doubt the hardest thing I have ever done, but I am stronger now that I have reached the other side.
France is a special place. I have loved it and hated it here, and pushed myself to be a more open minded, courageous person. The ability to travel at the drop of a hat is a dream come true and I have seen 6 new countries this year because of it. Trying to understand a culture that feels so alien to me has been very hard. I have expanded my palette to an array of new cuisine, some indescribably good, and some that still ties my stomach in knots. I will miss the smell of fresh bread from the millions of bakeries that rest in every town. And although I hate to admit it, I will kind of miss the laid back feeling of this nation. My internal clock is very New York, so its nice to live in a culture where being late is normal and it forces you to slow down and enjoy life.
Today I am flying home and there is a torn, bittersweet feeling lying at the pit of my stomach. I have missed my family, friends, food, and wonderful nation, but France has left an imprint on my soul. But, I know this will not be the last time I cross these borders and that makes me hopeful for the future.
Farewell France and thank you for the memories.