PARIS — Before I left for my semester abroad, I assumed that my academic life in Paris would not be nearly as rigorous as its American counterpart. I was not completely wrong, but I did fail to figure in one crucial variable: whatever the work was, it would have to be done in Paris.
Spending a night in and studying is much more difficult when you know that your nights in that city are very numbered. Often I find myself forced to look at my calendar to remind myself that spending the night working is no longer a choice.
Now, as the semester draws to a close and finals rear their ugly head, it is very easy to get trapped in circular trains of thought that waste time often just make you more stressed. The most common among these is usually just stressing over exam dates. They are fixed and unchanging, and the majority of the time that we spend thinking about them is not in terms of the amount of studying we can get in before them, but just raw terror at their existence and nearness. In Paris, that is coupled with the fact that following on the heels of our exams is the flight home.
Therein lies the dichotomy that afflicts students unfortunate enough to be abroad for a semester. On the one hand, we are planning every minute before finals in our notebooks and making sure all available time is accounted for. On the other, we are desperately trying to avoid the fact that we will be flying back to the States in a matter of weeks.
It would seem like a pretty straightforward paradox, until you spend a few days riding the emotional roller coaster that is the final days of a semester abroad coupled with finals. One conversation with a friend back home and suddenly you are desperate to take your finals and be done with them, simply because doing so will bring you that much closer to going home.
And so I find myself, excited to board the plane back home, but dreading my last day in my adopted country. I have no idea where I want to be anymore. If you’re thinking about going abroad, don’t ask me for the sage advice of someone more experienced. I don’t have it. A semester or a year? I don’t know. I can easily convince myself that either is infinitely superior. I am in-between two countries, fully committed to neither.
On this ridiculous ride, I do know one thing with absolute certainty. I know that a few days after I get home, I will definitely not want to be there anymore.