Lindsay, Outbound to France

WOW!! Happy May 1st! These last 8 months have flown by and have definitely been the quickest 8 months of my life. Sometimes this life feels just like a dream and that I'm bound to wake up any second. Since, I'm going home in 19 days ( how is that even possible ) I've decided to write one last time to reflect on my exchange and to talk about my feelings. First off, this exchange has definitely changed me and has helped me grow, tremendously. I am NOT the same person who boarded that plane to France last August. I've learned countless lessons from appreciating the little things to learning how to do things for myself to even learning what I can do to become more environmentally friendly. This has been an incredibly emotionally year for me, as well. I've always had a big heart but my heart has grown 10 times the size as it was before. I think part of the reason is now I understand. I understand how hard it is too communicate when you don't speak the language, I understand what it's like not to have many friends or people you know, I understand what it's like for people not to understand you ( in many aspects). I understand it all now and I think now I just want to make sure no one feels the way I've felt multiple times throughout my exchange. Another big thing, is the cultural differences. You'd think that France and the United States really aren't that difference especially when you compare the U.S to an Asian country. But, there are quite a few cultural differences and it's really hard because there is somethings I LOVE about France that I wish I could bring back to the U.S with me and there are somethings about the U.S that I appreciate so much more and have definitely missed. For example, in France when they greet each other they do the " bises" ( the kisses on the cheeks) and in the U.S we usually hug. I prefer hugs, I think its a lot more intimate and personal. But, in France they're a lot more family oriented, and we eat dinner together as a family EVERY night, personally I LOVE this. I think it's incredibly important to have family time and it has definitely helped me grow closer with my host families. The other night, I woke up from a dream sobbing because in my dream I was saying goodbye to my two best friends here, Irina and Kristine. ( Exchange students from Norway and Argentina ) These girls have been my rock this year, I couldn't have done this exchange and survived the countless hours of school without them. Going home is going to be incredibly bitter-sweet. I never really understood the quote " you leave your friends and family to go home to your friends and family" before, and now I do. I always thought like "oh this is just a year, then I'll go home and my life will be the same. " Oh was I crazy for thinking that. This has become my life, and my whole heart. Of course I'm super excited to get to see my friends and my family in the U.S again, but I don't know what I'm going to do without the people I call my " friends and family " here. Honestly, it kind of makes me sick to my stomach knowing I probably wont ever be complete, again. This has become my Home, and of course the U.S is my home but so is France now. I'm not saying this year was perfect, because it definitely was not perfect or even close to perfect, but, I will miss it with my WHOLE heart.

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