So, here we are. I’m sitting in Charles de Gaulle airport, on my way back to Reims for just one more night before I head off to more adventures over summer. Over the past four months, I’ve enjoyed sun, snow and every kind of weather in between, travelled to places that I’ve always wanted to go and most importantly, met (and now had to say goodbye to) some of the most important people in my life to date.
At this point, its weird to think of me back in December, filled with anxiety about the untold possibilities of a year abroad. Lets be honest, I was shit scared. I’d packed and repacked close to eight times, googled anything and everything I could think of that might help and spent hours talking it through with a counsellor. But somehow, when I stepped off my 24 hour flight and into the bisous of Léa’s parents, I felt calm.
From those first few jet lagged days, setting up Ikea furniture in my empty flat and trying to navigate a french supermarket, its hard to imagine how things might have gone differently. Within weeks, I had found my way into a group of friends, fallen in love with my school and planned spontaneous weekend adventures to anywhere from Denmark, to Belgium and Spain and the Côte d’Azur.
First: Sciences Po. I have to admit, the choice of university was more based on how cheap accommodation would be than what I had heard of the school itself. My first semester has taught me the power of french bureaucracy, just how much I have to learn of the language and also how interesting it is to study the world from a different perspective. Having the opportunity to take courses on Africa and learn about international relations from a European perspective has been invaluable to me, and I am so glad I ended up in Reims (even if we have to suffer the occasional grève).
Looking back now, the highlight of my travels have been the little things: the first snow in Copenhagen, the bells of Strasbourg Cathedral, our tapas and sangria in Barcelona and the sun on the sea from the lookout over Nice. I’ve visited Disneyland with my best mate, sat in Shakespeare & Co in Paris for hours with an old friend, wandered in champagne fields between tiny French villages and most recently enjoyed Aperol Spritz in a tiny square in Rome.
Despite all these experiences, for which I am extremely grateful, pivotal to my happiness this semester have been the people I’ve spent it with. They’ve stressed beside me at OMA over uni work and joined me on any number of adventures, from #bodegathursdays to spontaneous trips.
First, a thank you to all of the people who visited. To Jess and Tom, thank you for making my first week in France so much easier, and for being so incredible on our 2am hospital trip. To Alice, thanks for making a stressful week magical, from a buffet vegan dinner and the Good Wife to Disneyland. Finally, to Jessie: nothing made me happier than the fact that #MARCH2018 actually happened. Thanks for sunny boat trips, late nights with rum and long meaningful conversations over chai.
Secondly, a shoutout to my wonderful roommate Léa. Even before I arrived, you and your family were nothing but welcoming to me. From picking me up at the airport to becoming my guarantor, I feel so lucky to have found you through my desperate pleas on Facebook for an affordable place to stay! Here’s to another semester of terrible food cook-offs, house party planning and late nights finishing last minute assignments. I’m so excited to have another semester in our flat with you! Je promets de parler français le semester prochain.
Finally, to the group of people I spent pretty much every waking moment with over the last four months. Steph, Claire, Alexandra, Nicole, Eleanor, Yijing, Tyler, Josh, Alessandro and Cal – you’re a bunch of legends. Even though only some of you know the difference between avo and arvo, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than laughing over 1 euro champagne before Bodega or splitting a bottle at Reviens. I’m not great at emotional goodbyes, but to say you’ve all made my semester incredible would be an understatement. There’s a place to stay in Sydney for any of you if you’re there.
Without further ado, here’s a little gallery of my favourite photos I’ve taken this semester. Check out the ‘Photos’ tab for more pics of my adventures, but these are the ones I’m most proud of. Goodbye semester one, and hello summer in Switzerland!