Postcard No. 14 from Paris: saying goodbye
Our time on Asbury University’s Paris Semester has come to an end. Many of us have already packed up and boarded planes home, a few of us will do so in the coming days. Reflecting on this semester, there are so many big memories, small memories and memories in-between that go into making Paris Semester what it is.
We started out a small group of 19, each of us ready for an adventure but not quite sure what we were signing up for. And while we’ve all been in the same place, doing much of the same thing – we’ve each ended with our own takeaway of what these past three months have meant. For my short wrap-up, I’ll focus on some of what I’ve been able to learn from living in Paris.
I really like setting and accomplishing goals, going out and doing things and balancing a strong social, professional and relational life. I had a lot of goals coming into this semester, such as getting all my work done early, seeing as many landmarks as I could, eating all the French food… you get the idea. But it was a little goal that sat in the back of my mind that changed my semester. I never wrote it down, never even really gave it conscious thought; that little goal shaped my entire semester. I had decided that I never wanted my fear of doing something by myself to keep me from doing it.
That goal is a pretty big deal for me. Many of my college years can be marked by being afraid of doing things by myself. Eating in the cafeteria alone, going to events without a friend, or even going on a walk by myself… these were all on my don’t list. And this is something I think a lot of us can relate to.
But this semester has given me the opportunity to change that and to realize I enjoy getting to take in the world by myself. Of course, with anything, I think there’s a balance. I love doing life with friends and getting to share experiences that way, but I also love getting to walk alone to a museum with my headphones and just my thoughts. I love getting to eat lunch at a small cafe and people watch without having to worry about carrying on a conversation or to sit at a coffee shop and make friends with the baristas.
Paris holds so much of what is good in life: the beauty in the streets, the long and delicious mealtimes, the dazzling shops and the hidden nooks. I don’t think there is much more I could ask for in a city. And though one of my best takeaways from this semester is the love of doing things alone, my other best and just as opposite takeaway is how grateful I am for the other people on this trip.
Each person brings a wildly different energy, life experience and their own opinions. Shoving all that into one group on one floor in one dorm is part of what makes it all worth it. Without the people, this semester would still be great, but it would be very different. As it’s Thanksgiving season, I am thankful for all those people and what they have taught me about life and the world this semester.
I really can’t believe that my time in Paris has come to a close and I know that these past three months will stick with me the rest of my life. I will miss it dearly, but then again that’s how we know something was good, right?
Madi Baldwin is a student at Asbury University in Wilmore.