"It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world."--John Green.
It's hard to believe that it has almost been three months since I said goodbye to Paris, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since. I remember being so sad to leave the beautiful city behind, not knowing when I would be back. Touching down on Australian soil, walking out of Perth airport and immediately being subject to unbearable heat made me want to jump right back onto the plane and return to wintry Paris! But of course, it was nice to come home and get back into a routine, catch up with friends, family and begin a new and exciting semester at University.
Despite this, I can't keep my mind off of the four weeks in Paris and the three weeks I spent in Vichy with my host parents while attending the Cavilam language school. In a way, it feels like the 7 weeks I spent away never really happened, and maybe that's why I am so desperate to travel once more, to feel a sense of adventure again. The most rewarding part of the trip was learning that I am totally capable of doing the things I want to do, the things that often seem the scariest. I remember anxiously waiting at the airport, about to board a flight all on my own to go to a foreign country with a language that I still don't have a full grasp of. I had so many doubts going through my mind, wondering why on earth I thought I could go 7 weeks without my family. Granted, I wasn't going for a year, not even 6 months like most exchange arrangements, I was going to meet a study group over there and mum was going to join me for the last three weeks in Paris. But, having always been an introvert, I couldn't help but fear that I wasn't up for the challenge.
Over the course of my travels, however, I soon discovered that leaving really is the easiest thing in the world. The things you learn about yourself while studying abroad, even if it's just for a short stint, are invaluable. While I was still the shy one of the group, I learnt that it's okay to be reserved and not want to socialise all the time. Some of the loveliest days I had were spent wandering Paris or Vichy alone. But I also had so much fun with a fantastic group of like minded people. The bond you create through travel is like no other.
Above all, I fell even more in love with learning French and the idea of foreign languages in general. At the Cavilam, there were students attending from all over the world, a number of which couldn't speak English. But it was through our learning French, albeit being broken and clumsy, that we were able to form a means to communicate and learn things about one another that we couldn't have done otherwise. I found this to be a beautiful thing.
I'm already making plans regarding how and when I can return to France next, hopefully for a longer period of time. And while I'm at it, I hope to visit other places in Europe such as Austria, Sweden, Germany, England and Holland. But until then, I have a lot of saving and dreaming to do in order to make this a reality.