Bonjour à tous! As temperatures begin to rise, and the Dijonnais (people from Dijon) start their annual May manifestations, my time in France is slowly coming to a foreseeable end. Where has the time gone?
It feels like just yesterday that I was having a my apocalyptic mental breakdown at the bus stop in Tours. Anyway, I have spent this past week taking exams, saying goodbye to some of my new friends, and at the same time trying to tie up loose ends before my final trip back home. It’s been sad ending the entire life that I have establish for myself here in France, but it has shown me the extent to which I have made Dijon my home, and I am extremely thankful for that.
Final exams have been the first to-do on my departure checklist. Finals abroad are a whole different cauchemar (nightmare) from those at Holy Cross. Not only because most are worth 100% of your grade, but also because of the fact that you never know entirely what is going on in your class throughout the semester . Although classes here are easier in terms of grading systems and exam questions, taking a class in a different language with a room full of native speakers is a challenge all its own. My best advice to anyone studying in a foreign country would be to find a native student who understands the school system and is kind enough to share their notes with you. With the help of several generous French students and the habit of writing “ERASMUS” in big bold letters at the top of each exam paper, I’ve been doing surprisingly well for myself on my finals without many misfortunes.
Since finishing my exams, I have found myself stepping back to appreciate Dijon more than before. Whether it’s when I’m listening to the Amèlie soundtrack on walks to my favorite boulangerie, joking around with my host family at the dinner table, or just sipping tea with my friends, I can feel the end approaching and I’ve been doing my best to elongate every fleeting second. Its crazy to think that in ten short days I will be back in my room in New York with my year abroad as only a fond memory.
These last few weeks have made me recognize how fortunate I was this year to be surrounded by such incredible people. Both my host family and my HC advisors have done an amazing job of making a strange foreign city feel comfortable enough for me to call home. I could not have asked for a better host family than my mère d’accueil (host mom) Jocelyne and frère d’accueil (host brother) Martin, who have accepted me as one of their own from the start; as well as my advisors Christelle and Nanou who have done an outstanding job of guiding me through this strange and demanding year. And I can’t express how thankful I am to have met my amazing group of friends here in wee Dijon. My friends Aislinn, Aisling, Fabian, Jen, Kirsty, Niamh, and Sophie, have all truly been my saving graces this year. I don’t think that I could have made it out of this year alive if it wasn’t for our outings to le Beverly or our tea nights, where I was fully able to express myself and take a breather from all the French for a couple of hours. I am so fortunate to have found a proper group of friends here in Dijon that has taught me so much and who I know that I will continue to be friends with for the rest of my life.
These last few days have made it abundantly clear how blessed I have been this year, as well as how deeply rooted my life in France has become. From closing my French bank account, to giving my two-week notice in at work, I had planted myself so firmly in Dijon that it’s honestly been a bit of a pain to dig up. At least now I can say that I understand what it means to “uproot yourself.” Never before in my life, not even during my first year of college, had I ever had to change my life so drastically and start a new as I did this year. I guess even 38 weeks into study abroad I’m still having new experiences. C’est fou hein? (It’s crazy isn’t it?)
Citation du jour: Il n’y a pas d’au revoir pour nous. Peu importe où tu es, tu seras toujours dans mon coeur.
There is no goodbye for us. Wherever you are, you will be in my heart.- Gandhi