It seems like just yesterday that I was writing my very first blog post - it's hard to believe that this is my last! My classes are wrapping up this week, as are my final exams, so soon I'll be leaving this wonderful city and heading back to the States. In a way, I'm ready to go home, but it's really bittersweet because I'm not sure when I'll be back. (I know I will at some point, though!) Before I leave, I'm making sure to check off a few last things that I didn't get around to visiting, like the Catacombs (which I hear are AMAZING) and an exhibition of American photographer Garry Winogrand. Overall though, while I didn't have the chance to visit every corner of the city (it is definitely too big for that), I think I've gained a thorough understanding of Paris, which became my primary goal throughout this trip.
What am I going to do once I'm back in the States? First thing on the list - after getting over my jet lag, that is - is to visit my friends and family. They've been a huge source of support right from the beginning, especially when I was homesick. Speaking from experience, homesickness abroad was a real issue for me, and it was a different animal than the kind I experienced when I first got to GW because of the time difference and not seeing family midway through at Thanksgiving or parent's weekend. All I can say is that I am eternally grateful for Skype! Also, speaking of homesickness, I will most definitely be paying a visit to two very important parts of my heart: Chipotle and Target. (Yes, I went there.) It might sound silly, but those are definitely the American things I've missed the most while I've been here. No Mexican restaurant or French store could replace either of them!
I've realized that I'm really glad that I decided to study abroad in the fall because I get to come home to the holiday season in full swing. Christmas and New Year's are bound to be amazing in Paris, but being with my friends and family is what's most important to me. Overall though, coming here for study abroad has given me incredible opportunities, and I won't soon forget that. I traveled to numerous places, including Ireland, the Czech Republic, Belgium, and different regions within France. I got to improve my French and see how French people live on a daily basis, especially when I began babysitting a little Parisian girl on some weeknights. I've made a lot of new friends from all over the world, most importantly the GW and Sciences Po students with whom I've spent the last few months. Most important, though, is that I really and truly learned a lot about myself. I know that everyone says something along those lines, but it really is true. Studying abroad has been probably the biggest challenge I've ever faced; some days were really hard, to be completely honest, but others were simply amazing. Looking back, I'm really proud of myself for taking advantage of this incredible opportunity and will definitely carry it with me for the rest of my life. So, yes, it's been a crazy ride - thanks for coming along with me!