Ah…never knew that this day would come. Correction: I knew that it was bound to come, as my work contract has an end date and all of that. But I didn’t expect for it to come up so soon, so quickly, when I still have a ton of things that I should and want to do. Seriously, it’s insane…
In any case, after almost eight months of living that so-called “expatriate” life in France, as well as conquering my way throughout the rest of the European countries during my vacations, it is time for me to bid Europe adieu. Cheesy and cliché’d as it sounds, there have been many ups and downs during my time living abroad, the good and the bad.
I admit, I still haven’t really assimilated into the culture. And just the ever-present language and culture barriers continue to frustrate me, despite the fact that I have improved my French somewhat, as well as accepting the quirks and oddities of the French people themselves. Not that they are strange (well, not all of them), but rather their way of living is both similar and very different from what I grew up with in the United States. Yes, France is a Western country like the U.S., but never does it seem so unlike it. Hard to explain, I know, but in a nutshell, I still haven’t adjusted to it all; I still am not comfortable.
It is way too easy to make this post a negative one about my negative experiences while being in France (believe me, I have many to tell you). But this is not the point of this post- rather, it is to reflect not necessarily on the good parts as well, but on my growth through these good/bad experiences. I truly believe that living in France for a good amount of time has changed me, again both for better and for the worse. I can say that, at least with my living situation in a small, isolated community, it has made me more anxious, reserved, and disillusioned by the French people’s perspective on racism and people of non-French origins in their country. At the same time, however, taking the opportunity to travel, meet new people, and (re)discover the diversity of places throughout Europe made me realize my passion for traveling, almost to the point of obsession. It has made me more outgoing, open-minded to different ways of life, and conscious of money (I’ve become the master of budget traveling whoo-yeah!).
Overall, I can’t say that my experience of living abroad in France has been a complete blast nor a disappointment- really, it is both. I have gone through cycles of elevated happiness, complete depression, constant anxiety, and fear. But I do say this: it has been one of the most life-changing moments to date in my twenty-three years of life here on Earth, and I don’t regret anything.
You might be wondering: what’s next for me after France? I am leaving Normandy today, and will be spending some time traveling (again, top secret!) before I head back home to Los Angeles in May. As for my plans over the summer and in the long run, that is uncertain. I can’t say for sure what will happen with me, but I do have hope that something will turn up and that, in the end, things will work out. I am really keeping my *fingers crossed* for that!
Thank you to all of you who have stuck with me throughout these past months with me, as well as to those who have joined me along the way. Since I will be off traveling, I will once again have to postpone my posts until I finish; by the time you see my next post, I will most likely be back home (sweet home) in the United States. Thank you for your patience; you are all just too awesome.
Until then, bon voyage!
— The Finicky Cynic
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