As my departure is merely four days away, news of an impending snowstorm has come about. Regardless, I will think positive thoughts, in hopes that the snow gods will keep the snow at bay, at least until liftoff. While I was composing my separation letter, many thoughts ran through my head. How will my parents react? Will they be excited for me, or sad that I am leaving, or both? I am anticipating making it past the first sentence before tears start streaming-from both my mother and I. My father, a stone-faced, tough guy, may have trouble keeping it together, as well. I have decided to share the letter at dinner, where we gather nightly as a family. For years, I have taken pride in the fact that we are able to still manage this, even with such hectic schedules. It is a time that I cherish very much and feel the most comfortable.
As predicted, sharing this letter brought out an emotional tone at dinner. While my parents are sad to see me leave, they are excited for all of the endless opportunities to come. They could not be more proud of my accomplishments, academic or otherwise. After I shared my letter, it was as if a weight had been lifted. Why was I so anxious to share it in the first place? I graciously thanked them for all of their love and support throughout the years that has helped me flourish not only academically, but also on a more personal level. I decided to use the same quote, by St. Augustine, that I used in my introduction travel log: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” I cannot stress this enough, especially because my experience abroad culminates with the travel logs I share. By writing each week, I am adding another page to my own personal “book” that details all my life journeys. This quote is essential to my experience, as well as Rites of Passage while abroad.
Now that my suitcases are sitting beside my bed, the imminent departure is becoming much more surreal. The most pressing matter at hand: how to pack for four months. Not only is that an extended amount of time, but also two entire seasons! As minute a detail as that is, I can honestly say it is the only thing I am worried about. Because I have been studying the language and culture for years, I feel a sense of ease and excitement whenever people ask with whom and where I am living, what classes I will be attending, and so on and so forth. There is not a single doubt in my mind that this will be the pinnacle of my academic career at Quinnipiac.
I will be living with a woman who is a retired haute couture fashion journalist. Words cannot describe how excited I am to see the city, using her as a supportive resource. The final piece to my successful education abroad is living at a homestay. Although staying in an apartment with American friends is tempting, I want to reap all the benefits of full immersion into French culture. The friendships that I make with locals will be irreplaceable and hopefully ones I maintain throughout the future. The only thing left to pack, as I noticed on Monday, is a piece of Boston to console me when I feel homesick. The picture I have included is of my dog, Seguin, in my suitcase. While this is obviously impossible, it brings a smile to my face whenever I see this picture. Instead of feeling sad about leaving home, I feel relaxed and happy knowing that my family feels excited for my impending travels. As Frank Sinatra once said, the best is yet to come…