Tuesday, March 8, 2011

if you love me, won't you let me know

Lately I've been thinking a lot about my first big trip to France in 2008. I had visited a couple of times before that, but that was my first time coming to a foreign country completely on my own for 2 months. I ended up meeting some of the greatest people from all over the world and having, actually, the time of my life.

The latest Coldplay album had just come out that month that I left and I distinctly remember being on the train from Paris to Montpellier and listening to Lovers in Japan/Reign of Love and just feeling the most at peace I've ever felt. I was so anxious and jetlagged and on the verge of tears most of the time since I stepped off the plane in Paris... but at that moment, listening to that song and looking out the window to the French countryside whizzing by, I knew that everything would be okay.

Lovers in Japan

There were two distinct parts to that summer, two sessions. During the first session I met and instantly bonded with two Polish girls, both named Joanna. A lot of the other Americans there just spent time with each other, speaking English, but I really wanted to take advantage of being in France and speaking French. Turns out that all the people I loved hanging out with that first month were only there for the first session, and they all left at the end of July, leaving me there with (bah!) the other Americans.

Sofie and me!
There was a little break in between the sessions when I went to Paris with my dear friend Sofie.  That was probably one of the greatest times in our friendship, being young and careless in Paris together... she's probably the friend that I've traveled with the most and I love that I can always pick up right where I left off with her every time I see her, no matter where in the world we meet. It was so good to see a familiar face that summer right after my new friends abruptly left.

I returned to Montpellier in August, obviously excited to spend another summer month in France learning French, but also missing everyone who left. Little did I know what I was in for... I met people who were just as amazing who had either already been there the previous month or who had just arrived.  I let my guard down a little and spent time with some fellow Americans... it felt so good to speak some English again amongst all the intensive French we were learning all day, every day.

Miss these girls.
I've tried keeping in touch with all of these wonderful people over the past three years, but of course life gets in the way, etc, etc... my best intentions to call or email often don't materialize and then suddenly it's been a year since I've talked to them. There's been one good friend with whom I've managed to keep in touch, despite our language barrier... My French is better than his English, he says, so I'm the one who usually makes a fool of myself when we're talking, and who makes him repeat everything, oh, at least twice. Like the others, we've had our year-long span of not keeping in touch, but now that I'm back in France and we've seen each other a few times it's like I never left. I hope I make it to Poland one day, and Greece, and Minnesota (?!) too, so I can see all my other friends again from that summer..

One thing I know, I'm happier in France than I am most other places... and at this point I don't want to leave anytime soon. My visa expires at the end of June, and I'm definitely applying for this program again next year, so to all the people reading at home - see you in 2012 I suppose?

Or maybe I'll never come back!  OoOoh. No, I'm pretty sure a few of you would actually kill me if I decided to do that. Mais je suis amoureuse... de la France, de...

If you want to see the rest of my pictures from that summer, they're on my flickr here.

Update of my travels coming soon...ish.


flewinto said...

i love this entry! love jill c

Kent said...

Who doesn't love ya?