Returning to the city where you studied abroad is a funny thing — especially as an observer into a life you once lived.
I left for Paris last January, geared with two suitcases overflowing with three seasons of wear — ample preparation for six months abroad. I had arrived unsure as to where the semester would take me, confident I’d return with an inkling of European charm and eager to find my place in a world thousands of miles away from home.
Save the European charm, I achieved all I set out to do. Through an organized homestay and enrollment at a French university, my program provided a base to work from as I branched out, developing connections within the French young-professionals scene and local Jewish community. I independently secured an internship, extending the semester of study into a summer of work.
I left Paris in August, satisfied with having found my place within the city; I felt confident that should I return, the life I had put six months of effort into building would be natural to pick back up.
Until return came last week for a quick, three-day trip — stepping back as a visitor, no longer a part of the purpose that once structured my daily life abroad.
The connections we build fade as study abroad comes to a close. But the city remains long after the abroad experience ends.
An abroad program doesn’t define a city, but merely helps shape our experience as we develop a routine and set a purpose within a foreign framework. Studying abroad leaves us with a stronger confidence in adapting to a new environment, a lesson to apply across the spectrum of our lives. As college students, our connections are temporary, refreshing our experiences while pushing us to constantly reevaluate where we stand. The manner we adapt to the city we attend college stems from our connections within our environment. But once the rolled diploma of our studies folds over the chapter of our undergraduate experience, it’s for us to redefine our purpose within the city.
Life is about accepting the challenges that come our way. Study abroad marks a step away from comfort, an experience that tries our abilities as we carve a spot and find our ground. In many ways, the adaptation we face while studying abroad is a microcosm for the eventual adjustment to what the real world post-college holds.
Connections change as we grow, but the potential to rebuild and redefine, remains. My three days back in Paris allowed me the opportunity to wish the experiences of my six months farewell. And in doing so, I welcome the opportunity to develop a fresh purpose and renewed connection should I return.
Powered by Facebook Comments