Salut… (I don’t have the encouragement to put an exclamation point)
I am sitting in a Giraffe café with a mango smoothie in London Stansted Airport, in England. That’s right, I’m in Britain. My time in Aix is officially over, I’ve checked in my huge suitcase (my life) to my second flight of today – to Edinburgh. Then a bus to Inverkeithing. Then a taxi to Dunfermline, to my home. And that’s it. It’s over.
I’m reflecting a lot, and I’ve also shed a few tears. As soon as I left my boyfriend, my beautiful French boyfriend who I’m not going to see for six weeks, I burst in to tears. The airport was a total chaos (typical Ryanair) and everyone was looking at me like I was a madwoman.
The airport was full of French and English people, leaving or heading on holiday, and no-one understood how huge that moment was for me.
Exactly 338 days before, I left my Dad at St. Pancras train station, in absolute bits, completely terrified for what the next year had for me. I remember so clearly being worried the whole weekend we were in London (ironically, where I am now sitting reflecting) but I had managed to keep my cool. Half an hour before I needed to board my train, as I was saying goodbye to my Dad, 30kg of my life in my hands, no idea what was going to happen to me, I burst in to tears and I couldn’t stop crying.
I remember the feeling disgusting clearly of complete dread. I felt like a fish out of water, completely out of my depth and just wanted to get on the train home. Thinking about it even now, I tear up. That feeling will never leave me and I have a feeling the way I feel today will not leave me either. It’s a difficult feeling to explain but I suppose the best word to describe it would be heartache.
My whole school and university life kind of led up to this year and I made the most of everything I could, and I have no regrets, but I just can’t accept the fact it’s over, I truly can’t. I don’t understand where this time has gone and how it’s over, but for the moment, it doesn’t feel entirely real and I’m really struggling to accept it.
The past month in France has been hard and a lot of the time I wanted to go home, not truly understanding the idea of going home and not coming back. I’d be fine if I had definite plans to come back to Aix but I truly don’t. My boyfriend will be working in Poland, and who knows if I can afford to spend another summer in Aix, and after university, who knows where I’ll be?
This year has been such a rewarding and eye-opening experience for hundreds of different reasons. I could write a whole book on my experience and how much it has changed me and how many experiences I’ve had and skills I’ve gained, but I need to condense it so as not to bore you.
This year, I have travelled to 9 different countries in the world and around 50 different cities in those countries. I’ve met an unidentifiable number of people with their own stories and history, and made good friends with lots of them, who I hope to visit in the near future.
My eyes have been opened to different cultures and different types of people I’ve never encountered and I feel more comfortable and at ease with myself because of this. I’ve gained a tremendous sense of independence and, as cheesy as it sounds, anything seems possible now. If I want it, I can make it work.
I’ve also gained numerous hobbies that I’ll never let go of, including starting to paint and draw again, taking up calligraphy, and gaining a very strong interest in photography, blogging and writing. This blog is such a great tool for me to look back on my year abroad from and I follow some pretty awesome people who write some pretty awesome things.
I’m incredibly lucky to have had the experiences that I’ve had and I wouldn’t change my year abroad for anything. I will never forget how important Aix as a city is to me and I hope I can visit and maybe spend more time living there, but we’ll see!
Now it’s time for me to focus on my studies and try to get that 1st I’m hoping for. I’ll be getting my head down… right after my trip to Greece on Friday!
Au revoir Aix, il y a une partie de toi en moi. Je t’aime.
This is part of a new series of mine. I will be talking about a subject from A-Z twice a week.
L: Leaving Aix