It has been almost a month now since I left Paris. Coming back home to Texas, spending time with my family, and just taking it easy was exactly what I needed after four months of non-stop activity in Paris. I think even after a month I’m still processing everything that happened while I was abroad. I think my real motivation for going abroad was a desire to throw myself into an unfamiliar and uncomfortable environment in order to challenge myself and thereby grow as a person. I think this very same desire led me to choose Northwestern as my college. And I know without a doubt that I have grown so much as a person as a result of this experience, which is all I could hope for. How did studying abroad in Paris challenge me, you may be wondering? Sure, I expected there to be challenges from living in a country whose language I knew almost nothing of and challenges from being so far from my friends and family and knowing almost no one in the program. But Paris also challenged me personally in ways that I never could have expected, and it was through overcoming all of these challenges, both expected and unexpected, that I saw myself change and mature.
Someone asked me the other day what my favorite part of studying abroad was, and I began to laugh at myself when I couldn’t help from replying, “All of it. Everything.” And as cliche as it sounds, it’s true. There is not a single aspect of my time abroad that I would change. Every day, every experience, was new, unpredictable, and an opportunity to challenge myself by stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something new. There were definitely highs and lows though, to be perfectly honest. Some days I felt isolated and lonely, but I never felt that way for long. What helped me get through the low points were the students with me on the trip, who are among the most incredible people I have met. Being American students in a foreign country and only really having each other for a sense of familiarity and comfort created a kind of cohesion and camaraderie in the group, and I’m relieved now that I decided to study abroad with other Northwestern students.
Well, that’s it from me on these blog posts. I hope whoever has read them has enjoyed them, and I hope they’ve helped them get an idea of what studying abroad in Paris is like. All in all, it was an exhilarating experience that ended up becoming a journey of personal growth and fulfillment. Of course I encourage anyone who’s interested in studying abroad to take the plunge and do it. I believe it is not just an essential college experience but an essential life experience as well.