More than a year ago now, I wrote my very first post about going abroad. I was scared and hesitant, unsure about this grand adventure I was about to begin. As usually happens, my fears did not come to pass (with the possible exception of not being able to understand my professors).
With exactly five weeks left in my stay here, I can honestly say that I love Lyon. I love the beauty of walking along the Rhône on a sunny day, Fourvière looking down on me. I love the relaxed culture and the knowledge that I can take time to breathe instead of always being on the go. I love the ease with which I can be in another country. I love the food, the cheap and plentiful produce at the local market, and the fact that I’m rarely more than five minutes from a boulangerie or a patisserie.
No matter how much I love these things, though, I know I have to leave them behind. My time has become increasingly filled with plans for the future: my plane ticket has been bought; housing has been (sort of) located; my summer job has been confirmed. Before I know it, I’ll be saying my goodbyes and getting on the train to the airport.
It’s bittersweet, to be sure, but in all honesty I’m kind of ready to go back. It sounds ridiculous—why would I be ready to trade this wonderful life for a 9-to-5 office job and the smothering humidity of a DC summer?
But I do miss the US. “Homesick” isn’t quite the right word, but there are certainly some times when I long for the familiarity of the world I grew up in. It’s not necessarily in the big things, but in the details: the way I have to buy allergy meds at a pharmacie in packs of seven instead of picking up two months’ worth at CVS; the lack of cheap Mexican food; the fact that Starbucks doesn’t have my favorite springtime drink.
More than that, I’m ready to be doing something. Sure, I have classes, but any exchange student can tell you that compared to the US, French universities aren’t generally known for their academic rigor. I feel like I’ve fallen into a strange limbo zone, where everyone else has been pushing their lives forward all year and I’ve been here, staying the same.
I know, I know. Come October, I’ll be desperately in need of a day when I have nothing to do but read a book in the sunshine. All the same, vacations aren’t meant to last forever.
If someone were to offer me a ticket back to DC tomorrow with no consequences and no hassle… well, I wouldn’t take it. I still have too many things on my to-do list. But when the time comes, I’m pretty sure I’ll be ready.