Blink and You’ll Miss It

Written by jessicaboucher April 6, 2024

The phrase “Time flies when you’re having fun” has never been more applicable in my life than it is regarding my semester abroad. With the semester winding down, each passing day is just a reminder that this whirlwind experience is almost over. It’s honestly difficult for me to fathom how much time I’ve already spent here, but upon further reflection, I realize that I have done and seen so many things, made so many friends, and changed in so many ways.

Friends for Life

One of the best things about studying abroad is the people you will meet along the way. There is no other place or time when you will be consistently surrounded by such a large group of like-minded individuals. I have been so lucky to meet people who I know I will consider to be lifelong friends, and whom I will miss very dearly once we go our separate ways. Amongst my friends, it is forbidden to speak of how in just a few weeks we will no longer be seeing one another every day. Unfortunately one of the hard realities of studying abroad is that you will meet some of the most amazing people, know them only for a short time, and then have to say goodbye.

Oh the Places You’ll Go

Without a doubt, being able to travel the world while studying abroad has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life. By the time I head home, I will have been to 18 cities across 6 different countries. It makes me sad to know that there will never be another point in my life where I will have the freedom and ability to travel in the way that I have these past months.

An unexpected side effect of travel is the way that it has changed my worldview and my understanding of different cultures. Hearing and reading about how different life is in other parts of the world is one thing, but witnessing it and interacting with it is a whole new ball game. I feel so fortunate to have been able to experience new cultures firsthand, and talking to people from different countries has become one of my favorite parts of travel. Recently I was in a small pub within the 11th arrondissement of Paris that was filled mostly with locals. My friends and I sat with a group of French guys who were extremely interested in learning about our lives as Americans and were more than willing to share their experiences living in France. Opportunities to chat with locals have taught me valuable lessons, and I am going to miss these opportunities when I’m gone.

Roll with the Punches

One of the inevitable truths of living abroad is that you will face many, many challenges. From the very first flight I took from the United States to Italy (which was canceled three times) this has been true for my experiences. While it can be difficult at times, the silver lining is that I have learned new ways to overcome hardships and have grown as a person as a result. Just this past weekend, I got stopped leaving the Paris metro station and had to pay a 50 euro fine for not having a ticket. FYI I bought one, I just threw it out inside the station and they were checking at the exit. Looking back, if this happened to me 3 months ago, I probably would have had a total meltdown, but being abroad has taught me how to roll with the punches and just move on.

Furthermore, traveling has pushed me so far out of my comfort zone by placing me in new, sometimes uncomfortable, situations. Learning how to get by in foreign countries with foreign languages and foreign citizens has completely changed my view of the world and has proved to me that I am more than capable of anything I set my mind to.

Saying Goodbye

In our last week before finals, it is becoming a scary reality that we will be heading back to our normal lives very soon. I am split between being excited to be back in the comfort of my home and being sorrowful to say goodbye to this incredible experience. I can hardly believe how long ago it feels like I landed here, yet somehow it feels like no time has passed at all. My advice to anyone studying abroad in the future is to enjoy every moment, if you don’t, blink and you’ll miss it.