I hate saying goodbyes - Lille 2012
Finally, the last day in Lille. 2 weeks before today, I would have given almost anything to fly home early because many of my friends had left for home already and I really missed my family and friends. Now, I almost want an extra day because I realized how invested I’ve become in this city, country, and experience. Just being able to spend a term in France has been amazing, but it was the people around me for the last 5 months that made it truly extraordinary, and I will remember this forever.
Ask any post-exchange student, and almost all of them will agree that this has been a major part in their life, one of the most terrifying things that they have done, but also one of the most rewarding. I remember the panic attacks I had before I flew here, worrying about where I was going to live, and how I would get enough cash every month for rent and food. I mean, it isn’t until you arrive that you realize that this new city could be (and is usually) very different from what you’re used to. Everything from how you greet a friend, open doors (and trust me, I have way too many embarrassing stories about that), to writing your final exams is different from what we’re used to. Amazingly, we all took it to stride, and within a month or two, we knew how everything worked and finally felt at home. Lille became our new home base, a friendly face to return to after a trip, because you know that there was a quiet room and a comfy bed waiting for you after a 5 hour bus ride.
I’ve learned so much in what I feel like was a short amount of time. Hopefully I retain most of this knowledge before I chuck it out the window of the plane as I’m flying home. Studying and taking classes was just a part of it, but what you gain from planning trips and all the mistakes that we’ve made has been significant as well. How many times have we gotten lost in a new city and had to ask a local? How many times have we heard the wrong thing in french and replied incorrectly, making us look like idiots? Numerous times. But you know what? That’s exactly what an exchange is like. I felt like we had all these lower points so that all our positive memories are even more wonderful than they already are.
I’m not going to lie: I’m going to cry like a baby tomorrow at the train station and the airport. Hell, I’ve already cried today! As happy and excited I am to return to my beloved Edmonton, I will always have a special place in my heart for Lille, Le Catho, my exchange friends, and my host family. Together, they have done so much from me that I can’t even put into words how grateful I am. All the international students are really another family for me, since we went through this together, and however sad it is that I’m going to see these awesome people for a very long time, I have no doubts we will meet up again and have a blast like we did in Lille.
And don’t even get me started on my host family! It was seriously good luck and a whole boatload of karma that I stumbled on this opportunity to live with a french family and really see this side of french culture. They have been my family away from home, and are some of the best people I know. If I was home and lounging around on the main floor, they always invited me to eat with them, and really made me feel like I was a part of their family. They are even taking me to the train station tomorrow so that I don’t have to lug my suitcases around! Trust me, I’m going to have some pretty serious ugly cries.
My best friend HoneyB told me that in the movie Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis (northern France is referred to as Ch’tis), there is a line “A stranger in the north cries twice; once when he arrives and once when he leaves”. This proverb has failed me! I have cried more than once since I’ve been here. Seriously though. I will definitely be returning to Lille so that I can see my beautiful host family again, and remember all the wonderful time here.
To everyone that I’ve met this year and has been a part of my time here, thank you. Thanks for all the laughs, the bis, and take care. Lille, it’s been fun.
So long, farewell, and thanks for all the Leffe Rubies,