And so I have arrived in Santa Barbara for the summer. It is kind of surreal that I had been in Lyon for a little more than 10 months, but looking back on the experiences I have been here, it is much more believable. I have met the most amazing people here in France; not only French people, but also a myriad of other Americans and foreigners have been so kind to me and opened my mind up to a bunch of different cultural experiences and customs. I remember one experience very clearly where I was surrounded by people from South America and we talked about (what else?) politics and economics. Being an American, studying economics at an American university, I am given a very American version of what economics is and what it should be, but hearing what all of these South Americans had in their respective countries was amazing. Although they weren’t able to change my mind on everything we discussed, my views on economics, social issues, political tactics and thoughts have been opened to another scope. It is easy to assume everything in the entire world falls in line with the American structure of things, but they do not, and I think it is important to remember that (not only with economics, of course, but with everything).
I have eaten so much great food, drank so much amazing wine and learned so many different phrases in different languages that I now feel like the world is both much smaller and bigger than I thought before. We really are ~all connected~, and that can be so easily seen when you hear, see, eat and experience different things that are both similar and different to what we have in America. Living in France, has really made me proud to be an American, even more than before (if that’s possible), but it has also made me respect and understand different parts of the world. In America, there are so many of my friends who are struggling to find jobs, but it is kind of funny because literally the rest of the world is having such a harder time with unemployment. There are a bunch of things like that which Americans complain about, but many of them don’t understand that they still have it better than most of the rest of the world.
Living in France has made me consider other options for jobs, and other locations for my future career. Although I do not think I could live anywhere else than America for an extended amount of time (i.e. the rest of my life), but living in France, England or even Spain do not seem as out of reach as they did before I came here. Being able to live and work in France seems like a pretty good idea at this point, especially after hearing how awful the English language teachers are in French universities…
But I digress.
I recently read an article entitled “You Can Never Really Leave Southern California” and I honestly believe that as true. Being raised in one of the most beautiful cities in the entire world has really spoiled me, and I cannot see myself spending long amounts of time of my life anywhere else. But, there is more of the world to see. There are more things to experience than just perfect weather, beautiful people and an entire sub-culture of music which thrives in that environment. Although living and working in Los Angeles will always be my dream, there are some places for me to see and experience before I settle down.
There is the phrase, “wanderlust”, which I heard about right before I came to France, and my un-experienced mind just scoffed at it, marking all those who subscribed to that philosophy as not being dedicated enough to working. But…as much as my year-ago-self would hate myself right now for saying it, the word means more to me now. Although I do not see myself completely turning down all job offers in order to travel the world, that option seems more like a real option for my future instead of just a cop-out after not being able to find a job.
I know that if I spend the rest of my life landlocked in the United States, that will be my biggest regret. I want to go to China, Japan, South Africa, Latvia, Brazil, Colombia, Canada, Mexico, India and Russia, and not just for business trips. I want to really GO there. Meet people, learn more about their lives, eat their food (but only if it is vegetarian), and figure out why people stay there for their whole life. Every country has their own specialities, and I want to find out what they are.
Even as I sat out in the rain outside of Starbucks on one of my last days in Lyon, I loved my time in Lyon. I made the best effort to enjoy everything Lyon has to offer until the very end (even if it did include monsoon winds and heavy rainfall), and I think I did a good job. I honestly, truly, sincerely have enjoyed my time living in Lyon and traveling through Europe, but I am not sad that I had to come back to California. Maybe it is just because it hasn’t hit me yet that I have left and will not be back for a year or longer, but more than anything, I am just thankful. I am excited to come back to America and see all of my friends and family, and I know that I will be living the good life in Santa Barbara this upcoming summer, so I have nothing to complain about. I don’t expect this summer to be completely sunshine and rainbows, and I know that when I come back to America I will instantly miss France, but it is not an end. I will be back; there is no way I won’t be.
And so, with that, I think I will finish off this very long goodbye essay. At times, France has been terrifying, at others, my favorite place in the world. These ups and downs are what created my experience and although I could have done without the lows, I know that they were necessary for my time here to have been as fulfilling as it was. Although now it is time for me to go back to California and face the music of reverse culture shock that I will no doubt begin experiencing if I ever get the will to leave my house this summer.
Thank you all so much for reading my blog throughout this past year; writing it has been extremely fun and a great way for me to keep track of all of the things I did while traveling through Europe. I hope you all enjoyed it and had as much fun reading it as I did experiencing it and writing about it.
Here is hoping for another happy, adventurous and exciting year! And, **puts arm up in a “cheers” motion**, to my last year in college! Lets do this.