These last few weeks have been a whirlwind! As I write this, I am on my U.S. Airways flight back to Philadelphia, where the temperature is 36 degrees and everyone speaks English.
Even though I haven’t had much time to write the past few weeks, I’ve made an effort to make time to appreciate my last days in the city of lights. While I was abroad, I promised myself I that wouldn’t worry about grades as much as I usually do. I thought that it would be more important to experience the people, sights, museum, and culture than to spend every day inside of my apartment, making sure that I got perfect grades. Of course, I still studied quite a bit—my classes were a huge part of learning about France and also learning the language. So I spent a lot of time my final week studying for finals, but I also had to pack and clean while still leaving time to roam around the city one last time.
Another factor to add to the mix: my boyfriend came to visit me my last week there! It was really fun to show someone around who didn’t know the hidden secrets or the language. I got to see the beauty of the city through his eyes again; not that you ever become jaded to the wonder of Paris, but sometimes you forget to notice the stone façades of the buildings and the wide boulevards that make Paris the most stunning city in the world.
Weaving in time to have fun with him on top of everything else was definitely worth it. But then, after finals, my peers began to head to the airport for their return home, although most people were able to make it to the last goodbye dinner at Brent’s apartment, which I was shocked to learn was only a couple of metro stops away from me. That night was spent eating Lebanese food and learning how Brent, who is a native U.S. citizen, came to Paris for the first time and how he ended up working for CIEE. We got to meet his wife and his daughter, an adorable 11-year old French girl who is also fluent in English. We also got to hear about memorable moments from previous semesters.
My final day was spent packing, cleaning, and visiting the Eiffel Tower one last time. I’ve seen Tower eight times over the course of the semester because everyone who has come to Paris has wanted to visit it. The part that I appreciate the most about my Eiffel Tower experience was learning about its history and functions. Initially, the Tower was widely protested in the beginning of its construction in 1887 due to the fact that it did not fit the mold of other classical stone monuments such as the Arch de Triomphe and the Notre Dame. Of course, Paris wouldn’t be the city it is today without the iconic tower.
My last night in Paris, I had a last dinner with my host mom and brother and my boyfriend. Then I went out with the other CIEE students one last time to a local bar to get drinks and say goodbye. After a couple hours there, I knew the time had come to finally leave in order to get up early enough to catch a cab to the airport. I walked outside with my two closest friends, Diane and Lexi. Cheesy as it sounds, we held each other outside of the bar and sobbed into each others’ shoulders. Oftentimes, the things that you experience with people bring you closer together, and studying in a foreign country is definitely on that list.
Although my last week in Paris was definitely hectic, it was one of the most memorable. The fact that it was so hard to say goodbye to my host family, my friends, and the most spectacular city in the world only confirms what a life-altering experience that I had during my time abroad.