They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, I say it takes several villages worth of support to more than successfully complete, with life-time honors (you know who you are!!), the Principia 2012 France Abroad. Today I asked myself: “Did I really just survive the last 15 weeks?” Yes. And I did it with the 15 best kids this side of the Atlantic, a damn good RC, and an extremely dedicated professor. Not to mention the help of the friends who put up with us and comforted us when we were homework zombies on campus, our parents who would tell us they loved us over Skype, and all our other professors back on campus who I know were supporting us.
There is no way to recap the last 15 weeks in a just manner. There were tears, trials, and triumphs. And now here we are on the other side about to fly home. We grew, we learned, we fell apart, we put ourselves back together, we proved what we were made of. We were pushed beyond what we thought our limits were—physically (I have never gotten so little sleep in a 15 week stretch), emotionally (hello group dynamics), linguistically (immersion is overwhelming but so awesome), academically (I am pretty sure I can do anything after the last 15 weeks), morally (the qualities that got everyone through this abroad were patience and humility), personally (I am definitely leaving France with the answers to some questions I had been asking for a while), and as a world citizen (I have a much more expanded concept of my place in the world and the immense scale, diversity, and potential of our world and or our people.) Not too shabby. These things are the products of what I consider to be truly effective education.
This is going to be a very short post and here’s why: My head is swimming in feelings. I am in a stew of gratitude, latent exhaustion, excitement, mild shock and existential hysteria from finishing (what am I supposed to DO with myself now!??), and just plain old amazement for all that we’ve accomplished. It’s too much to fathom at the moment. I will literally need a good week or two this summer to simply soak. SOAK. Haven’t had any time to do that for 15 weeks. I am one who most often synthesizes lessons and experiences in solitude and there has been precious little of that in my neck of the woods. This has been especially challenging given that cultural studies require a great degree of reflection because you are constantly examining your own beliefs, absorbing new, foreign experiences, coming to new places of understanding, and always, always, always generating more questions. Your “radar” is out all the time. Everything is information about your “target culture”, the culture you’re in. You’re on “receive-mode” at all times. Whoa. And it’s a lot. And now I need some time to unpack the millions of moments, lessons, sights, insights, and conversations I had over the last 15 weeks and bask in them and let them talk to me and re-tell me their stories. It’s time to take a good week to digest this marathon France-feast that I have consumed this semester. Though I believe our trip was designed to be a “buffet” of serious but doable courses and ideas, in reality it often felt more like an obligatory eating contest. I was stuffed day, after day, after day. Now it’s time to digest. And go on some runs.
Love to all. Thanks for reading, everyone. This is not the end as I have yet to reenter the US and talk about that adventure. Till’ then, stay well, stay beautiful, stay true.