After a hectic move-out, in which I left the Fondation Des Etats Unis at 8:00am but due to traffic and a fussy, rich old woman from Virginia, my shuttle didn’t get me to the airport until 10:15am. The flight was at 11:05 am.
So after jumping the entire security line and passport check, I am not successfully seated on the plane on my way back to the United States for the first time after being abroad for six months.
How do I feel at this moment in time? I suppose I feel profoundly sad, but completely satisfied at the same time. I suppose much like a writer after completing a book he or she has been writing for a period of time. Sad that it’s over, but proud of the journey.
As I filled out the customs declaration form, I felt a tinge of pride as I listed “all countries visited prior to this US arrival.” My travels spilled over the two lines provided, and as I wrote down each one, I had one of those cliché-flashback-slideshow montages you see in films when the character is reflecting over his life or love or whatever. I remembered and felt each and every trip in a matter of milliseconds.
And of course there was Paris. Paris in winter with my crazy host grandmother and a freezing climated I hadn’t felt since leaving Canada when I was seven-years-old. But it was full of exploring with friends, awkwardness as I stumbled in social situations in French, the creamiest, richest, most flavorful cheeses and wines, pastries so beautiful you want to appreciate them for a second before digging in (but only a second), and of course self-discovery and fun. I took a side-trip to Strasbourg and stayed with my friend Emma’s godparents’ family. We ate tarte flambée and visited the modern museum of art. Then another trip to Berlin to visit Ole, celebrate Emma’s birthday, and learn a tad bit of German (ich will essen die menschen). Then the end of the quarter came upon us so fast and without much sun, and it was time to go on our long-awaited spring break trip.
Spain and Morocco with an ideal traveling group – Mark, Harley, Andre, Michael, Emma, Ana, Lucia, and Wyatt. In Madrid, we met up with Michael, who had planned to study abroad there for Spring quarter. There, we encountered a melodramatic, hostile hostel woman who shushed us for whispering in our rooms. We visited the major art museums, had tapas, and Harley, Mark, and Andre just had to go to Taco Bell (even though it was an hour out of their way). Then we met up with Emma in Barcelona. Barcelona brought on sun, an accidental venture into a grunge-striptease club, and lots of good food. And then Morocco where we stayed in Riad hostels and met new friends, experienced the bustle of the medina in Marrakech, camped in the desert with camels and berbers, and visited the cute coastal town of Essaouira and giant industrial city Casablanca.
And suddenly, it was Spring quarter! New home, new Stanford group, and in a way, new Paris. Spring brought on…not nicer weather, but less brutal weather. Nevertheless, we did picnics, spoke more French (contests were involved), and took lots of trips: Avignon, Stockholm, Amsterdam, and Brussels. Drinking, clubbing, adventuring, all of the above were part of our day to day lives…as students? As young adults in Paris? As Americans in Paris?
And now I’m here on this plane. The seemed to go by just as fast as reading the above.