Day 110: What I actually learned on exchange

Yes, it’s a big jump from Day 54 and I have more posts on what happened in between, but I’m almost done exchange! And between day trips to Paris, travelling on weekends and going to classes (and parties) on weekdays, I’m still wondering where  the last 3 months went.

Um, what just happened?

There is still so much I want to do here in Paris and more generally, in Europe. And God, how sad is it to think that the friends you’ve been living with, going to classes with and travelling with for the past 3 months will disappear from your life for years after next week.

But in the wise words of my eternal inspiration (the best TV show ever created: departures) <3:

Andre, Scott and Justin: You guys have no idea how much I love you.

The reality of always being on the road is that you are always saying goodbye. And for the first time of my life I finally grasp the meaning behind those words. Speaking of things I have grasped….

What I have (actually) learned on exchange in France:

1. Almost every stereotype I knew about French people has been proven while I’m on exchange. Not often enough to generalize them to every single French person, but yeah, it’s true: Parisians are super chic, smoke a lot, and they take it pretty easy.

But they don't wear berets...

2. Exchange students are the best people on earth.We’re open to new experiences, make the best of our time because we literally do not have much of it, and love starting our own parties. I wish I were on exchange forever

3. More about myself? This is so cliche, I know. But by entering a country and a campus where no one knows you and you have no family, you learn a lot about your ability to cope with loneliness, sketchy situations and balancing friends, classes and travel. I wouldn’t say I know 100% of myself, but I have a clearer picture on who I want to be in a couple years thanks to exchange.

4. A new appreciation of home. I would be the last person to say I get homesick, but it happened for the first time in my life. When things just get worse and worse, you crave nothing more than a hug and a good meal from your Mom. I bet this feeling will never go away until the day I die.

5. About a million other things that will benefit me in life. I learned how the French education system works, what the German model of a corporation is, what languages are spoken in Belgium, who founded the Impressionist movement, how to sing “Au bord de la riviere, Margot, Margot…” and a bunch of other things you could put in the category ‘General Knowledge’. You know, things people talk about and when you say you don’t know what they are talking about, they give you that “Are you serious?!” face? Yeah, that. I learned some more of that.

6. I don’t think there’s any better way to learn about the world other than travelling.

And this is why I travel.


Shiv 🙂


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