Well, I am finally just a little bit homesick.
I’m surprised that it’s taken me this long, but since I’ve gotten to Paris, I’ve been extremely content with the myriad of options of things to do here, my friends that I’ve made, and my classes. I really haven’t had much time or reason to miss home. At the beginning of the semester, the director of the program, Brent, warned everyone that they would most likely start to miss home at some point. I kept on waiting for it to happen, and watched as other students talked sadly about how much they missed their parents or peanut butter or trees and open spaces. It didn’t shock me too much because I’ve always been very independent and pretty adaptable to new environments. I’ve also lived in two cities before Paris, so it wasn’t a huge transition into an urban environment as it was for other students.
Still, I was expecting at least one meltdown in the middle of Skyping with my boyfriend or a frantic text to my mom telling her to send me candy corn or my favorite shampoo (neither of which can be found in France). Nothing happened until Thanksgiving, when I finally felt an emptiness in my stomach that had nothing to do with the lack of Thanksgiving dinner that I was to have that night.
In the U.S., Thanksgiving morning always starts with waking up late with my brother sister and wandering downstairs to watch the parade. We then drive north to Landsdale, about 40 minutes away from Philly, to my cousin’s house. Hor’dourves start immediately and we’re all full before dinner but still manage to eat third helpings of everything. The night usually ends up with unified karaoke or a wild dance party in the basement. My entire extended family is extremely close and I don’t get to see them too often, so holidays are very important for me.
This year in Paris, my Thanksgiving morning was spent teary-eyed and in my room watching Christmas movies on Netflix and waiting for America to wake up so I could call my family. I still had classes, and CIEE doesn’t incorporate a break into their program. Needless to say, I was relatively miserable. The good part was that we had a Thanksgiving dinner with our program that night at the center, so that’s what I looked forward to as I sat in class dreaming of the seven different desserts I’d be having if I was back in Pennsylvania.
The rest of the day was actually really nice; I got to talk to my family in the afternoon and spend the evening with all my wonderful friends that I have in Paris.
That being said, Paris isn’t just Eiffel Towers and croissants. There are some downsides to studying abroad in a foreign country. An important lesson to learn, though, is to allow yourself to be sad if you feel sad. Brent also told us in the beginning of the semester that it’s fine to be homesick; the problems start when you begin to feel guilty for being homesick because you should be eternally happy that you’re lucky enough to be studying abroad. Yes, I still feel eternally lucky that I have such an incredible opportunity, but I’m also allowing myself to miss my family and not feel guilty about it. I’m looking forward to going home for the holidays, but I still have three weeks left in this incredible city, and I plan to take full advantage of them!