The fall of 2010 is when I fell in love with France. I lived in the northern town of Lille, right on the border of France and Belgium for 4 months on exchange. It’s not easy to recount the time I spent there in a few short words. I won’t ever forget that first day when I arrived, excited and fresh-faced only to be told I had nowhere to live despite my “confirmed” accommodation. The scramble to find an apartment turned out for the better, and I ended up living with the best roommates possible. I came a long way in four months, and as cliché as it sounds, I experienced such a huge sense of self-discovery that is only possible when you’re stripped down to just yourself and you’ve left your support team and everything you know across an ocean.
Despite my initial struggle, thoughts of home quickly floated from my head, as I indulged in warm baguettes, delicious cheeses, 2 euro wine, and pain au chocolat. Jumping on trains for weekend getaways to the next best European city (not often enough Paris), partying til 6am, and studying political science at a top French university are just the tip of the iceberg. The friends I encountered, the adventures taken, and the memories made make the book of my life that much more full. As much as it seems like a dream now, I was awakened by the loveliness of France and the warmth of the people I met.