I arrived home last Saturday, December 21st. Prior to that I had final exams, last good byes, and packing. I then traveled with my mom before returning back home.
My mom and I explored Paris together then we took trains to Strasbourg, Saint Goar (we stayed in the Rheinfels Castle for a night) and Koln to tour Christmas markets. We then went back to Paris to collect my enormous fridge of a suitcase and then on to London to end our journey abroad.
I am going to add some more posts of cities and experiences I didn’t have time to during my return home.
For now, I am very grateful to have had this opportunity to live in Europe, to have met so many wonderful and intriguing people. I had the chance to see life in a different perspective via other guests at hostels, my professors in Paris, my host family, the daily newspaper on the metro. I found the art of conversation and observation and the importance of language and listening, the thrill of meeting foreign faces and the beauty of reflection.
I am glad to be home, I had a wonderful and pleasant Christmas with my family and friends.Though, I am experiencing some reverse cultural shock already like having had my ID constantly checked for being 21 in restaurants ( whatttt? this never happened in Europe…ever), actually driving a car (took a little bit to get used to softly stepping on the gas pedal again), not expecting to translate or guess what I am eating while out in public, so much English everywhere, having a waiter tell me their life story and full name, friendly strangers smiling and waving as they walk (I do live in Texas though), having a shower head on the wall in our shower and a toilet in the same room (really is a luxury) and realizing once more that I have to drive to get anywhere.(life of the suburbs)
If I am allowed to complain at all, I really do miss the ability to walk anywhere and everywhere easily. The metro in Paris was smelly and dirty but it was so “facile” to jump on line 1 and be at museum or cafe quickly. Also, for the young and the bold, you always had a safe way home in case you had an extra glass of wine or to many shots of “juice”.
An important part of Paris to me was having the most accessible options of transportation as city transport or walking, you get to know the city that you live in. I remember always passing this older man with thick rimmed square glasses, a pressed scarf, shirt, and long brown coat who would walked his small curly haired puppy down the street I took to school. Likewise, I always passed a beautiful flower shop after getting off my metro stop for school and then passed the local boulangerie (bakery) that all my classmates and I took advantage of during breaks. I even began to recognize certain musicians in the metro or sadly pass by the same homeless men around the city.There was a man near my school who would put a small box on hook and reel his collections out from a fishing reel among the crowds of tourist and locals passing by. (poverty exists where there is money).
Secondly, walking makes you break up your day, whether you are in a rush or strolling you still experience the city, the people, the damn pigeons (haha but really) and life around you. I saw more sunsets and sunrises in my life by waking up early to catch a train, strolling home in the early evening, or running in the local park. I want to continue appreciating reality … My generation is very clouded with tv, wifi access, and with upholding an online image, an alter personage in the virtual world. (its pretty freaking weird what lives people can create for themselves online) I am going to try harder to live more in reality and enjoy being in a moment rather then capturing it to sit on my memory chip in my phone. (Though I have to admit, I have an instagram and take photos all the time but ill work on taking just the memorable, significant ones)
After much contemplation, that’s what I will miss the most, walking, being able to walk through history itself in old city and the continent I traveled. So I plan to go back. Like many young students or those in a mid life crisis I have this strong desire to see the world. I will graduate from college first (no worries mom and dad) but I am hoping to find an internship for this summer abroad or I will be looking for more ways to travel and often.
The best way to see the world and to understand how the rest of the world works and lives you have to travel and live elsewhere, personally and up front. You can listen to media publications and documentaries and scathing politicians but like art, it is never the same unless you experience the rest of the world for yourself, completely open and ready to explore.