I don't think that I had stopped smiling the entire 1 hour and 7 minute train ride to the airport today. As I lie here in bed at an overpriced airport hotel in Lyon (thanks mama), it is slowly starting to hit me that in less than 24 hours I will back on Canadian soil, a surreal feeling to say the least.
The last 9 months have been crazy, to put it into a single word. And frankly, I haven't had much time to personally reflect on it. My blogging has been minimal this second half, as has my travelling (*she says having just returned from a two week tour of Greece, Portugal, Morocco and Spain*). A big change, from traveling to a new country every weekend during first semester, to having only left the country twice during my second semester. My outlook coming into the new year and the second part of my year abroad was needing to change and I fully knew it. I had decided that I wanted to spend more time in Grenoble, adjusting to the true life of an exchange student, and creating more of a "homey" feel, and I did just that.
My year abroad had me faced with more challenges than I had ever thought possible, and for a moment my "year abroad" became my "semester broad". Its easy to lose yourself in a new situation, to become overwhelmed with the new experiences brought before you, all while trying not to let go of what you know. Ironically enough, when you finally do let go of what you know, new doors open up, and you find a new sense of home.
For the past few years, I have always had the strong desire to leave home and explore the big wide world, I caught the travel bug in high school and never looked back. And now, in this moment, I am ready to be back Canada more than ever. This year has taught me a greater patience than I've ever known (French administration I'm looking at you) and a serious idea of what perseverance really is. I may not be looking at the initial outcome I had expected from my year abroad, I may not have discovered that I want to pick up and move to France in the future and live there forever, but I have discovered a sense of surety in myself, a confidence in my self and my abilities. Believe in yourself, and others will believe in you to.
As much as Grenoble and I have had a love-hate relationship for the past nine months, it will never change just how difficult it is to leave a group of people as amazing as the ones I have met during my time here. For my newfound Canadian friends, I will be patiently awaiting our reunion.
18 countries in a total of nine months (while actually going to school, yes), 15 new patches for my backpack, countless planes, trains and buses, and one Canadian girl who is more than ready to sleep in her own bed, its au revoir Grenoble. I will certainly miss the days of hiking the mountains and sitting in the park being surrounded by them, the days I would wake up, open my mountain facing window and realize just how amazing the world is. Thank you Grenoble, and thank you once again France, for allowing me to fulfill my year abroad without regret. Until we meet again. 💓