MICHAEL W. RICHARDSON / THE EAGLE
I like to think that spending some time away from my beloved university has given me some perspective on its goings-on. Then I begin to realize that I am across the Atlantic. Why should I know or care about things going on back at AU? I am thoroughly over-connected.
Despite a six-hour time difference, it is not odd for me to spend hours of each day talking to friends back home, whether through Facebook, Skype, Twitter or (insert shiny new website here). I often hang up on my mother to have these conversations. I’m sure she understands. After all, paying thousands of dollars for my tuition can only get you so much talking time.
And then there are the “events.” Somebody needs numbers due to a dearly departed phone. Something is going on vaguely greek life related. Someone is raising money for something. Hillel is doing anything. And, of course, my personal favorites, the student running for some random position “that you totes need to vote for!” or the club party “that is gonna be sick, bro!” At first, I thought these pleasant, often humorous reminders of life stateside would be like postcards. Quickly viewed, then put aside for better and brighter things. But after dealing with a slight bout of homesickness, I’ve begun to realize that they are, in fact, just the opposite.
They are anchors, weighing me down to a home impossibly far away and preventing me from really immersing myself in Parisian life. This is not to say that I no longer want to talk to my American friends (Jess, please don’t hurt me) or that I don’t miss them. It’s simply that I’ve begun to realize that I am an ocean away and that, no matter how often I talk to my friends back home, it will not lessen that divide. More often than not, these conversations simply leave me feeling like I should board the next flight home — not the emotion you want while trying to get acclimated to a new country.
And so, I have decided to make a “new country resolution.” It’s like a New Year’s resolution, but without the inevitable disappointment when you realize you still smoke, still have a 2.2 grade point average and are still out of shape. I am going to spend at least half the time that I usually spend talking to people from back home walking. Not walking anywhere in particular, but just wandering. I am going to pick an area, be it the Latin Quarter, the Champs-Elysees or around the Eiffel Tower gardens, and just walk. Walking with any one destination in mind is boring, anyway. It has often been my experience that when you are looking for one thing, you miss everything else. I hope that by aimlessly strolling through Parisian streets, I can learn something about this city that I wouldn’t find in tourist guides and orientation meetings. I hope I can get as comfortable here as I am back in D.C. I hope I can finally settle in. However, to do that, I need to let go of D.C. to some degree. It will only be for a short while, but it is necessary. And on that note, I bid you all au revoir.