I am spending my summer in Annecy and Talloires, France with the Tufts in Talloires program. During these 6 weeks, I will be taking two classes and soaking up as much French culture (food, wine, etc) as possible! I will be writing once a week or so about a small aspect of my study abroad experience. This is my last post of this series.
And suddenly it was over. Six weeks gone in the blink of an eye. Someone asked me how I felt about that and I was having trouble explaining. The best way to describe how I feel is to use a Harry Potter Metaphor (there’s one for every situation in life isn’t there?) Bare with me: my six weeks in France is like the secret Order of the Phoenix meeting apartment. When you first glance at the set of apartments, the doorway seems to be a narrow blip, barely noticeable and almost forgettable. It hides itself away and blends in with the rest of the doors (that is to say the time that is passing in my life.) But when you really focus on it, that door expands into a large apartment full of stories and memories and experiences. There are secrets and learning moments and suddenly all you can see is that apartment, while everything else seems to fade away.
It was the time of my life, truly. I feel like I really profited and squeezed every ounce of fun out of my time. I did well in my classes and was able to form relationships with my teachers in a way I would have never been able to do on campus. Being able to go hiking with them on the weekends or go to a café between classes made me really get to know my professors beyond just their traditional classroom roles. But more than anything, I took away a new group of 100 friends. Sure I didn’t get to know everyone, but I know that come Fall, there will be 100 new faces to smile and wave at, as we silently acknowledge our summer together. I took away new friends that I will keep for life, people who I might not otherwise have gotten to know but who I feel I have known forever.
Getting back to Boston was a whirlwind. After over 20 hours of travel doorstep to doorstep, I finally slept in my own bed (waking up at 4:30 am of course) and then spent the weekend up in New Hampshire collecting my thoughts and hiking in the not-so-impressive White Mountains (compared to the French Alps of course…) I remember thinking all weekend how loud everything was, and how poorly dressed everyone was. Perhaps these critical thoughts are a function of reverse culture shock? I remember thinking that French background noise, you know the noise of a collective group of people talking on the subway, was much more pleasant than American noise and that I was sad to have to start making my own meals again. My host mom spoiled me so much! But so far, the reverse culture shock hasn’t been too bad. Perhaps it’s because I had a solid support system to come back to and friends and family who took care of me this weekend. Perhaps it will appear to me sometime down the road and the “shock” will hit, but I suppose that moving forward gratefully is the only way to proceed.
It’s back to real life. Time to start work, make my own picnic lunches, and not eat cheese with every meal. I can’t go to the bars and hang out with my friends anymore and I can’t go jump in a beautiful lake whenever I feel like it. But, I will have amazing memories to look back on when the weather in Boston gets too hot and the days feel really long.