So as much as I’ve tried, I can’t stay in Paris forever, and today the time has come for me to leave. I think I’ve been through all five stages of grief already, but no promises, I may very well regress back into denial at any moment.
What can I say? It’s been everything I wanted and more. I feel incredible gratitude: for having been given this opportunity, for everything that Paris has thrown at me for better or worse over the course of the year, for all the people I have met and the impact they have had on my life.
For me, home is a nebulous concept, but for what it’s worth I had an easier time feeling at home in Paris than in any other places where I’ve lived. I can still see myself returning for an even longer stay or even for good. All the confident Parisian little old ladies that I’ve seen every day on the bus certainly convinced me that this would be an aspirational future.
Going for a year abroad in Paris means constantly living in relation to cliché. This is especially true when leaving – it’s hard to be honest about how I’m feeling without it sounding like I’ve just copied a paragraph from an International Office pamphlet or Buzzfeed list. However, that doesn’t make it less true.
My year in Paris really has been as life-changing and eye-opening as the promotional posters promised (though perhaps not always in the ways I expected). I have stepped out of my comfort zone, become more resilient and adaptable, and discovered new sides of myself. It’s been an important year in my development – academically, professionally, personally. I’ve learned to speak French (fluently?? I don’t know when you get to claim that title, and there are still days when I cannot words at all, but I’m definitely a solid C1 and phone calls to the electricity company don’t scare me anymore) and I even came to navigate the Chatelet metro stop without having a mental breakdown most of the time.
So: while you should be realistic, don’t be afraid to believe the clichés, they might come true!
Moving out certainly taught me a few extra lessons about French bureaucracy, so I’ll be doing a few more blog posts with tips and advice. I’m leaving that to a day with fewer feels, however.
For now – thank you Paris, it’s been magnificent.