It was always Paris. It was always, always the goal – the mission. The place where I needed to be. The place that I only saw once, for two days, but of which I hung up pictures. The place where I knew I belonged – where all of my “strange” qualities and anti-American idiosyncrasies could be accepted as commonplace. It was always Paris.
Before studying and poring over assorted SAT books to get my score just a little higher, way before filling out the common application and struggling to find teachers who would actually recommend me for higher learning, and way, way before taking Miami’s offer of acceptance and ditching my beachfront home for the elegantly prison-themed dorms of Stanford. I always knew that if I made it through two years of college, I’d be setting (proverbial) sail for Paris for an incredible and marvelous voyage abroad.
And now, that exact visit I’d been awaiting is a mere day away. Yes, I’m again leaving my beachfront home, but this time in exchange for the beautifully busy Paris and its surrounding countryside. Yes, I’m using more adjectives than any English teacher ever allowed me to, but I’m excited. So, excuse me.
I am looking forward to sitting in cafés nightly, writing short stories (cliché), and eating all the little pastries my coronaries can handle. I want to meet international women who blow my mind (no pun) with their interesting influences, watch French films (seriously…), and be immersed in a culture that is as self-important, arrogant, affected and pretentious as I am.
So, I preach – go study abroad. Do it. I am writing this in America. I have spent absolutely zero time studying in a foreign country, but I am willfully imploring you to take a semester out of your short college career and get the hell out of here. I know you need it. We all do. We need some time to be completely out of our element, alone with no one to turn to for the support that comes very easily to most of us.
It’s only then that we can figure out ourselves the most clearly. Not quite a spiritual experience, but one that I imagine could leave you fulfilled, inspired, proud of your own actions, and confident in the person you have become.