This past Wednesday marked the eleventh week that I had been in France. Eleven weeks away from my dogs, my sisters, my best friends. But it doesn’t really feel like it has been eleven weeks already.
I looked back at some photos from my first few weeks here, and I seemed like a completely different person eleven weeks ago. I can tell that this experience has already changed me in ways I don’t even realize yet.
I remember the week right before leaving for France, I spent many sleepless nights stressing over how I would pack four months into a suitcase. Those sleepless nights did nothing for me. I ended up packing and repacking my suitcase every few hours up until just before I left my house for my flight to France. And I didn’t forget anything. I actually overpacked. I spent every day that last week running to different stores to get each thing I thought I would need over these four months: cold medicine, vitamins, snow boots, rain boots, notebooks. Most of those things didn’t make the final cut into what actually came to France. And all of those things could have been bought here. (Even though I had cold medicine in my dorm here, I was in Paris for a weekend the only time I got sick and had to buy more cold medicine. And it worked just like American cold meds.)
All of the stress I felt right before I left was irrelevant once I got to France. The first few days were just weird. It felt partially like vacation because classes hadn’t started yet, and partially like I had fallen down the rabbit hole. I was suddenly in a new place, and I barely know the people who were the most familiar to me. There was so much to figure out– the most important at the time was the internet, but I also needed to learn all about a new city and how to navigate through it.
It took a week or so, but eventually things started to make sense and places started to seem more familiar. It still feels completely surreal; I don’t think this experience will be completely believable until I’m home and really reflecting back on this semester as a whole.