Indiana University Overseas Study

Two weeks ago, I was packing my suitcase to leave Paris.

As I sat in my room one night, I thought over my time in Paris. I remembered my initial struggles to adjust, my weekend trips to Amsterdam and Annecy, and all the friends that I had made abroad. While I was obviously sad that I had to leave, I was also scared: How was I going to be able to adjust to my old life, when I feel like I’ve changed so much?

When I was on the plane, I ate a box of macaroons, I cried, and I was too restless to shut my eyes for more than ten minutes. However, when I landed in Fort Wayne airport and saw my friends waiting to greet me, I felt a bit of relief.

Since I’ve been home this past week, I’ve answered the question “How was Paris?” no fewer than fifteen times. Prompted by the question, I consequently explain how much I loved it, how much I miss it, and how I feel like a new person. But there’s one thing that I can’t get past: It feels like it never happened.

It’s a weird thing going away to a place where you are given the opportunity to create an entire life from scratch, make new friends, live somewhere foreign, eat foods that you don’t normally eat, and allow yourself to become whatever society molds you into. However, it’s weirder to come back home after that and remember to adapt back to the life you’ve had for the majority of your life. I’ve spent the entire week sad, thinking of how I had completely lost touch with the Amanda who lived in France. While I had lived that life for six weeks, I was back to living my life of frequenting pools, dragging myself to the gym in the morning, and riding bikes downtown with my friends. I was sad that I was no longer living in Paris, but even sadder that I felt like I had lost touch with the new person I had become over my studies.

However, last night went a little differently. I was riding up vacant parking garages on bikes with my friends, something that I had always liked to do. But when I got to the top of the parking garage and looked over Fort Wayne’s downtown (if you can even call it that), my view was different from what it had been in years past. I was taken back to when I had climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower the week before and looked over the city; I closed my eyes, and for a moment, I was back in Paris. I wasn’t physically there, but my mind was. I wasn’t Indiana Amanda or Paris Amanda, but a mixture of the two.

A few seconds later, I heard my friends call me over to them. “Come over here, lets take some pictures in front of the buildings all lit up!” And while I said goodbye to the glimpse of my French alter-ego, I knew she’d be back to visit.

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