More than a month after my return home, my experience in Paris seems kind of like a dream. My life there, away from family and friends, felt so separate from my life in Evanston. In so many ways, I think I changed and adapted to life abroad, so to be right back in my routine feels a little strange. Every day, I am grateful to be home, something I wished for and daydreamed about so often in Paris, particularly toward the end of the trip. My time abroad showed me how important my family and community are to me, but I also learned to become more independent and to thrive in an unfamiliar environment.
I think the hardest thing for me being abroad was leaving the comfort of a community I had grown to feel so much a part of at Northwestern. However, realizing that I will graduate next year and leave the campus community I love so much, I’m lucky to have been abroad and know that I can be happy and successful in a new environment. While I do feel that I’m independent at school, being abroad was a whole new level of independence, having to figure everything out alone (including the mazes that are international airports). This was tough, but through it all, I found the integrity and determination I’m made of, even when I’m 5,000 miles away from home. Plus, whenever anyone asks me where I got some item of clothing I’m wearing, I get to flip my hair and say, “Paris!” or “London!” like a regular Bethenney Frankel.