I’d like to believe that people and opportunities come into and out of your life for a reason. They come into your life to teach you valuable lessons and once they’re done teaching you what needed to be learned, they leave. Sometimes, at the end of an opportunity or the departure of a person, we may not realize in the moment just exactly what that valuable lesson is or why they had to leave. This can often leave us frustrated, angry, confused, or upset. I’d like to call this life philosophy, “reasons and seasons.” Sometimes it takes a lost opportunity or a lost friendship for one to appreciate the valuable lessons they have learned or appreciate the other person. However, I do believe that people never really leave our lives. It’s almost as if people leave behind their carbon footprint. They influence the way we think, act, walk and talk. Whatever piece of knowledge or wisdom we learn, we carry it around with us for the rest of our lives. No one ever forgets their childhood best friend, their most inspiring high school teacher, or the friends they’ve met in college, study abroad, or post-graduation. I try to take a piece of everyone I meet and strive to be like them in some way. My friends and family are my biggest admiration.
It was just a week from today that I was on a plane from France coming back to Michigan. It almost feels like the past four months in France were all just a dream. It’s scares me that my time spent there feels so far away, although only a week has lapsed. I didn’t know reverse culture shock existed. I had a hard time processing coffee-to-go and the concept of carryout from a restaurant. Getting behind the wheel seemed a little foreign to me too. I felt like an old soul every time I preached to my friends and family that “I had to walk 30 minutes to school everyday and that was just one way! If I forgot something at home, I just had to live without it for the entire day.”
I miss the small-town and provincial feel of Aix but most of all I miss the people. While I was there, I became close with three girls. Together, we were like the four best friends from Sex in the City, only our vision was called Aix in the City. We had different personalities; temperaments, likes and dislikes and yet we all nicely complimented one another. There wasn’t one time that we were together where we weren’t laughing until we cried or laughing until we peed our pants. We had seen and witnessed everything together- the highs and lows, the good and the bad. We also had the chance to meet an important person in each other’s lives allowing us to get a glimpse of a piece of our lives from home. From everything that I learned during my experience abroad, I’ve learned one valuable thing and that is: if you make a special bond with someone, in the words of the “Jack and Diane” song, hold on as long as you can. In this day and age, it’s hard to find that special friend and sometimes all you need is one. My Aix in the City girls have changed me forever. We may have left each other’s lives because our time abroad was coming to a close, but their carbon-footprint will forever be imprinted on my heart.