The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Meannedering: Finding a Home Abroad

2 min read

This morning, I started crying at the airport.

It wasn’t because I was saying bye to my mom. It was because I was looking around the terminal and saw a sign that said, “Bon voyage” next to the boarding part of the airport.

You would probably be correct in assessing that I am a basket case; a sign made me cry.

But it wasn’t just the sign.  “Love Actually” may have taught us that airports are the best places to go when you want to see love all around, but that’s not what I saw.  I just saw a lot of people saying good-bye to their families, friends and to Paris.

What scares me is that I don’t know when I’ll be in Paris again.  It might be next year, it might be five years from now, but the scariest part is, it might be never.  Not that I’m one for weird, overly drawn out sentiments, though.

At the beginning, I was focusing so much on sharing everything that was going on around me that I forgot to stop and actually experience it myself.  But then, I got butterflies again.  They weren’t the fickle butterflies you get when you like someone who then breaks your heart. They were unchanging.  No one had any control over them, except me.

In America, I was known for all-nighters and a nervous breakdown every once and a while in the Trinkle lobby with my roommate.  I would go-go-go until I couldn’t go anymore.

But here, everything is so much more relaxing.  My favorite French phrase, “pas grave” means that it’s not a big deal and you shouldn’t worry.  Whenever my classmates and I give our professors the bug-eyed looks of terror (you know what I’m talking about), they calmly reply with those simple words.

So, we stop worrying.  And rather than stressing, we focus on living in a city where museums are free with our student I.D.’s and where orchestras form on sidewalks and in metros to make some money.
Living in the city is the hardest art to appreciate, yet the easiest to master.  At first, it’s weird to be in a place where they don’t refrigerate milk and go on strike whenever the mood hits them.

I’m not really sure if the butterflies mean that I’ve finally found a place to call my home.  Unlike most of my friends, I didn’t grow up in one place and can’t really pinpoint the spot that I would call my hometown.

When I went to Mary Washington, it was the closest thing to home I had ever found.  But then, maybe, just like best friends, and it’s all right to have more than one.  Several, even.  But the most important thing is to never stop looking—you never know what you’ll discover.