This week I leave to go home from Paris. It feels so surreal that the summer is ending and fall semester starts in just a few weeks. I feel as though I arrived in Paris last week and I already have to go. However, this summer has been one of adventures. One of meeting new people, discovering new cultures and growing as a person. I was able to fulfill my dream of living abroad, better yet living in Paris. It was a dream come true. Every day I was able to walk around the beautiful city, revel in it’s summer (not so warm) nights and experience the vibrance of one of the most visited places in the world. The second half of my summer abroad was even better than the first. It was a lot more jam packed with traveling, classes, and exploring Paris. There were so many factors that made July 2016 one to remember.
1. Art Class
One of my favorite parts of this summer was taking the Art and Architecture course offered during the program. I was always the type of person who appreciated art, but never understood what most of it meant or what the point of different styles of art were. When I was little I disliked going to art museums because art made no sense, it had no point in my mind. This art class changed everything! I learned how art changed form the renaissance to the modern period and it gave me a whole new understanding and appreciation for a important cultural part of european history.
In July I did the most traveling I had done in the entire summer. Most people were tired of staying in Paris over the weekend and we were all itching to finish checking off places off our travel list. I can safely say I made a dent on the list of places I wanted to see this summer. One of the most amazing (and most unexpected) trips I took was to Krakow, Poland. My roommate and I had wanted to visit the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum because we’re both were really interested in World War II history. However, everything went wrong with this trip; our flights were delayed, one of them got cancelled, our hostel almost closed before we got there for the night and to top it all off we found out that Auschwitz was closed the days we would be there. It was safe to say that we thought Krakow would be a bust but it turned out to be one of the most amazing cities and trips. Krakow was a lot more vibrant than I expected. The amount of history wrapped up in the beautiful city made the hassles of getting there worth it, especially St. Mary’s church, the most beautiful church I have ever been to.
After Krakow and between 2 exams and a final paper, we took two more trips. We were a little insane but Nice and Amsterdam were great places to also study for finals. Nice was a welcome change in pace and weather. The sun shined all four days we were there and the beaches were beautiful. I was definitely happy to cross that trip off my list. Another of my favorite trips of the summer was the trip to Amsterdam, but this mostly had to do with the people I went with. This bring me to the third reason why summer abroad was stupendous.
I can honestly say that I was worried about studying abroad because I knew I was going without knowing anyone. My roommate and I had briefly met in a pre-departure meeting, and hastily decided to be roommates. I was definitely not expecting the friendships I made whilst here. I think that was my absolute favorite part of being here. It was a completely different experience than I would have imagined. My roommate and I became really close, I can safely say I will need her in my life once I go back to Gainesville. While I got along with everyone else in the program, there was always a core group of us who did most things together. Who picnicked at the Eiffel Tower, travelled together and always had late night talks. It was those friendships that got me through the summer, that made all the memories I have even more worthwhile.
As I think about leaving it makes me really sad that I won’t have all my friend a door, or a floor away but friendship always takes effort and that’s what will happen in Gainesville. I’m not only sad about leaving my friends but also leaving this beautiful city. Walking around today I thought about how much I would miss the little things Paris had to offer, like the themed metro stops and little parks everywhere. As I ate my falafel walking around Le Marais I knew I didn’t want to leave. I had my last meal, bought my last souvenirs but still knew that this was not the end of my life abroad. I made it my goal to come back and live in Europe again at some point in my life. While this good bye is bitter sweet, with a lot more sadness added to the mix, I’m still excited to see my family and friends back home and get back to a different routine.