french caramel II

A lot has changed since I last checked in on this weird adventure I’m having in the land of baguettes and french caramel. Due to  family complications I’m going to be moving host families which is exciting, but also incredibly daunting. The idea of starting over the one supposedly permanent relationship you’re allowed here-the one with your host family- makes me want to curl up in a ball and listen to sad music (and believe me, I have).

I have also however, discovered the magic of European travel which has definitely lifted me out of my completely spoiled/princessy funk. I got the chance to visit the stunning city of Venice, with its gracefully dipping and twisting canals, loud, shrill Italians with no sense of personal space, and incredible pizza. On top of that, I got to share it with amazing friends who reminded me (and themselves) that this trip is nowhere near as permanent as our minds make it out to be. Whether we wanted to admit it or not, we’re going to wake up one morning and realize that one month remains, and then two weeks, and then two days. After tearful goodbyes and haphazard, pipe-dream plans of future trips together, I headed to Paris to see family friends.

Being around the incredible warmth of people who love you unconditionally is something I somehow managed to forget in the short time I’ve been away from home. I’ve spent the last week and a half rediscovering Paris from my own point of view. Exploring a city this incredible on your own is a truly inexpressible experience that has been the key to keeping my head up. It’s a pretty big metaphor for my trip as a whole so far, actually. I am lucky to be mostly content on my own, but being essentially alone and responsible for myself in another country redefines my previous experiences. It’s made me realize how important it is to treat everyday, every experience, every interaction, as a victory. It’s also made me more self aware than I ever could’ve hoped to be before all of this. I’ve never been one to be too homesick but I’ll gladly admit that within the first two weeks a fog of jaded acceptance for my old life was lifted from my eyes and a flood of appreciation for my friends, family, and lifestyle at home, overtook me, prompting teary 2AM love-texts home (sorry guys).

I’m about halfway through this program and if there is one idea that’s stuck with me throughout the whole process it’s that we are so lucky to have what we have at home. Most of the time that statement refers to materials; a roof over our heads, an education, dinner every night. I’m referring to love. However sickly sweet that sounds, its true! I never stopped to appreciate how lucky we are to have unconditional love in our lives. Back home, I could’ve done pretty much anything (and I mean anything) and my incredible parents and friends would’ve stuck by me and stuck up for me. Although it’s the strangest feeling in the world to be hurled into a mindset of needing to prove yourself and your worth almost 100% of the time, it’s definitely beneficial. I’m beginning to understand what its like to leave home, and these five months are a shockingly real preparation for the inevitable permanence of all this.

I’ve been sitting at my computer in this tiny cafe in the fifth arrondissement of Paris for 5 hours. Today my feet were too blistered and my mind too exhausted to do anything but sit, listen to pretty music, and surround myself with exposed brick walls and never-ending cappuccinos. I’ve decided that I’m counting today as one of those tiny victories.

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