Back to America I go! When prepping for departure my best advice is to plan ahead. Talk to your school abroad about when your last class is, so you can purchase your flight in advance. The sooner you book your flight, the cheaper the airfare. Also, be mindful of the size of your luggage. The first couple months I spent abroad, I was constantly buying clothes and various items to take back home with me. I figured I might as well get them now because chances are, I won’t be able to find these things at home. Then after a while I realized my suitcases would only hold so much stuff and I needed to be mindful of the space available (which is why it’s a good idea to pack light). Luckily, I was able to send a suitcase home with my mom after she visited me. I know a few other students who did this as well, and it really helped lighten the load.
After packing my bags and cleaning out my apartment, I decided to spend my last few days in Paris with one of my USC friends. This was my fourth trip to Paris this semester and I definitely saved the best trip for last. Paris is much more enjoyable in the spring and summer when the sun sets at 9:30pm and flowers are blooming throughout the city. In spring the Luxembourg and Versailles gardens are bright with new foliage and sun, as more people sit surrounding the fountains. It was interesting to see how a change in weather practically transformed the city anew. I spent my last night eating dinner with a few friends in front of the twinkling Eiffel Tower. Laughing in between sips of white wine, I slowly came to the realization that this was it. Five months gone just like that. Tomorrow I would board my plane to JFK and wouldn’t worry about having to say ‘pardon’ instead of excuse me, stores closing at odd hours, consuming unhealthy amounts of bread (although I might still do this when I get home), or navigating through the Parisian metro anymore.
I would highly recommend that anyone study abroad in some capacity, at some point in their life. Even if just for a few days, it is so eye opening to see things from another cultural perspective. Different from a vacation, you have the chance to engross yourself in another culture and learn from the people and environment around you. You’ll find that across the world people are very much the same, yet still unique in their own ways. What may seem like a long time away from home, whirls by so fast you forget to stop and take in the little moments while you can. Then along that journey, you learn so much about yourself and how independent you can be that you come home with newfound confidence. Wherever you end up, studying abroad is one of the most rewarding, exhausting, yet exhilarating undertakings you’ll ever experience.