So, I've only got a few days left in this paradise. WHAT? where did all my time go? :(
I didn't fall asleep 'till after one AM last night, and after that, I think I woke up at least every hour freaking out because I'd dreamed I was leaving or on the plane home or at home without knowing how I got there...
This isn't the first time it's happened, either. :/
I mean, I know I'll eventually be happy to be home, but for now.... nope. Not really into the idea. :/
Sorry to all you future exchange students, but this part just stinks. Like, seriosuly miserable.
You've had this amazing experience, you've given a part of yourself to a new country and culture and family and set of friends, you've grown up, learned things about yourself and the world, and now you're supposed to go back to the way it was before?
I was warned. And now I'm warning you all!
It will be sucky.
But, you know, "better to have loved and lost," and all that.
So, for everyone that's getting ready for their big adventure right now, be it a semester exchange, a year long one, or another adventure entirely:
nothing lasts forever, and the only thing that's inevitable is change. life goes on and it just doesn't work to stay stuck in one part of your life, no matter how wonderful it may be. we'd never learn anything that way.
that's what i keep telling myself, anyway. even though it's super corny. :)
so, what i'm trying to do is come to terms with the fact that, as much fun as it would be to stay here à tout jamais, there are more things coming.
Like college! I got my acceptance letter from BYU-I last week (good news, but I'm still holding out for Provo - those letters will go out mid-february), and now it's all sort of more real.
Which is scary, but good. I've got another big adventure coming my way, and I'm ready for it. :) bring it on!
I've learned so much from this incredible experience. I haven't had a "perfect" exchange, or been a perfect exchange student, but I couldn't be happier with the way these 5 months have gone.
So, here's some of the biggest things I got out of my experience:
- I was so shy before I came here. I really just wasn't confident in myself, or especially eager to draw attention to that fact. So i kept quiet. I think it shocked a lot of people that I would do something like this - go live in a foreign country all alone for five months, when she can't even talk to people in her own high school?
But being here, I got a fresh start and a world of opportunities opened up in front of me, and I got to see that I can be brave and independent and talk to new people (and so what if they think I'm a little weird?).
I can't explain how, or pinpoint the moment when it happened, but over the course of the last five months, I got confidence.
- I learned about me! :) I have a better idea of what characteristics make up katie. Which is just kinda cool.
- I learned that even though a lot of things are different between these two countries, a lot of things are just... relative. Like transportation, being independent (which actually has a lot to do with transportation), manners, food - all the things that make up a culture.
Like, you could look at the fact that the French can't drive 'till 18, and think "well that's dumb. they're totally restricted." But, when you take into account that:
1) there exists so much efficient public transportation that it's pretty much easier to go that way.
2) with the cost of gas, especially in europe, driving everywhere would be extremely restricting, at least financially.
3) i don't even think there would be room on the little streets for any more cars. seriously, it's kind of terrifying sometimes in the huge city buses.
4) you can seriously get anywhere without driving. there are bus stops everywhere, and if it's a little far, hitchhiking is totally legal (still includes driving, but it's someone else, so...)
- Culture actually has a lot to do with personality and conduct. Obviously, not all French people have the same sense of humor or disposition or timidity just because they're French, but it still makes a bit of a difference. It took me a while to realize that, and even to catch on to some of the mannerisms that I sort of was harsh about at first.
I've learned so much. SO much. I'll never be able to put it all here. But I hope that I can put it into practice and actually be, you know, a better person.
Even though I've had pas mal de hard times throughout this whole experience, I can't even tell you how glad I am I did it. And I did! I did it. :)
Four months ago, I honestly thought this day would never come (and I'm now wishing it hadn't!). I was pretty sure that, before the five months was up, I'd wimp out and go home.
But, looky here, guess I'm stronger than I thought. :)
That was my favorite thing that I learned about myself.