On May 16, it will be time for me to leave Maryville College, Tennessee and the United States. On May 16, I will say goodbye to all of the amazing people that I met during my time here. On May 16, I will go back to France, my home country.
Now that the date approaches, I realize that this adventure went way beyond what I expected. Studying abroad is an opportunity that is not given to every student, and I was lucky enough to embark on this journey.
It was a journey of self-discovery and of learning. As an introvert, I knew leaving my habits in France and adjusting to a new environment would be difficult. However, as soon as I arrived in August of last year, I was welcome in a wonderful international community and I felt fine.
I remember in October 2014, I went to the information session about the ISEP Study Abroad Program with the idea of studying in Ireland with the Erasmus program. I ended up applying to ISEP to study in the United States just to have an additional chance to go abroad.
A month later, I got accepted in the program and in April 2015, I received my placement at Maryville College. I chose MC because it had my name in its title, but Tennessee was definitely not my first choice. I got accepted by Kirsten Sheppard, my advisor, and then I confirmed my placement. These last three steps happened in the course of a few days, and I quickly started regretting my decision.
I realized that I would have to leave my parents, my family, my mom’s cooking, my dad’s hugs, and my life in France to start a scary adventure on the other side of the planet. I was comforted slightly by the fact that I was going to be gone for only a semester.
Then August 10 arrived, and I was gone. I arrived 5 days later in Tennessee after a short trip in New York. A month later, I thought “Look around you, you are in your history class and you love it here. Why would you go back? You don’t like your home university, just stay here.” A few days after this, I was applying for an extension to stay a year instead of semester. I received my placement and confirmation not long after.
Today, I do not regret my decision to apply for the program nor for the extension. I am truly sad to leave this wonderful life that I have created over the past several months. I grew more independent. I developed my confidence slightly more. I shared my culture. I realized that I like my country and I like my language. I discovered that I could succeed far from home, surrounded by such a different culture, and evolving with a language that is not mine. Soon, I will have to go home, but I will take all of this with me.
My experience here also taught me that even as a socially shy and introverted person, I can create lasting relationships with both Americans and International Students. I am not going back alone. I am taking a lot of wonderful friendships with me.
In September, I will hopefully start a Masters Program in Linguistics, and my next adventure will begin. Unfortunately, every good thing has its end, but I am leaving with memories and a feeling of accomplishment. I have a whole life ahead of me, and I will have new adventures to live. I will miss MC desperately, but I am leaving with a smile on my face because what I learned here and what I experienced here was truly wonderful.