Monday, May 19, 2014

Au revoir, France!

Hello everyone!!

This day really snuck up on me.  I still can't fully comprehend that this is my last night in France.  I am sitting in my hotel room in the airport in Paris, and I thought this would be the perfect time to bring my journey here to an end.

This past week I finished my last class, Strategic Brand Management.  I was a little skeptical of it at first.  There was a lot of case studies, projects, and presentations, making it my most intensive course by far.  I also wasn't exactly a fan of one of our two teachers, but I loved the other one.  Surprisingly enough, I ended up loving this class!  It was a lot of work but I actually looked forward to going to class and I truly enjoyed the homework.  There was a big presentation that my group of four had to give, an hour and a half presentation!  Luckily, the other three people in my group were close friends of mine, so we worked well together and made it very enjoyable.  That presentation is my favorite one I have ever given! 

Since we had so much course work, our presentations counted as our final.  I don't like tests, so I was super happy we didn't have to take one at the end of the course!  Then just like that, I walked out of KEDGE for the last time.  My friend, Emilia, surprised me and pulled out her camera to capture that great moment.  I thought she had been kidding, until a giant camera appeared!  So there is me, in the picture above, leaving the school for the last time ever!  Au revoir, KEDGE!

The rest of the week was both really exciting and really sad.  It was filled with a lot of "last time evers," but I was getting so excited to go home!  I spent most of my time with my closest friends.  We went around the city and ate at all my favorite restaurants and went to my favorite places.  We went to the Sunday market, ate yummy food, and sat by the river for a while.  Also, we went to dinner parties and out to bars to meet up with other exchange students to say good bye.  There were a few other students that left this weekend also, but most exchange students are staying for the last sequence and will be done in three weeks.  The picture below is of my last night in Bordeaux.  We decided to celebrate at our favorite restaurant, L'Entrecote!  I will seriously miss that place, the food is delicious!  After we ate supper, we walked around the city for a while and ended up at one of my favorite spots, the cathedral at Hotel de Ville.  Ironically, it was the exact same place I sat at on my first night here, all the way back in September.  I realized that after we had been sitting for a while.  I smiled and just thought "how poetic."  

(Last night in Bordeaux, celebrating at L'Entrecote!)

I have spent the entire day looking back and reflecting on all the memories I now cherish.  There are just so many!  I am thrilled I have written this blog to both share my adventure with you, and to have documented a lot of my experiences in detail!  There are no adequate words to fully describe the last nine months of my life.  It has been truly incredible, amazing, filled with extraordinary experiences and wonderful people.  Things I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life.  It has also been the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  If you want to grow up in a hurry and make yourself stronger than you ever imagined, move to a foreign country by yourself.  If that isn't good enough for you, move to one where you can't speak the language.  There were definitely days that I wondered what the hell I had gotten myself into.  I was scared, frustrated, full of fear, and pushed to so many limits I often thought I was going to break.  But I held myself together, I found out so much about who I am and what I am capable of.  When life got hard, I just pushed harder.  Through all the struggles, I have been blessed with so so so many beautiful memories, and I wouldn't trade a second of it for anything. 

When I was twelve years old, I told my mom for the first time that I was going to study abroad in Europe when I grew up.  I have been working on that dream ever since.  I can honestly say I am so proud of myself.  I have had this big dream for so long and I have worked my butt off for years to ensure that it would come true.  Well voila, I made it happen!!  I take pride in what I have all done to make this a reality, but I have to thank my parents just as much if not more!  They have supported me in everything I have ever done and have always been there for help, guidance, and love.  I could never have done this without them!  My parents have always pushed us to love life and live it to the fullest, and that is exactly what I intend on doing.  Thank you for everything mom and dad, I love you! 

(This is a picture of my evil wallet!)

Today started off as a good day.  I left my apartment for the last time and took my luggage to my friend Emilia's.  My purse was packed in my suitcase, so I put my wallet in her purse and we were off to the Sunday market with Denisse and Mariana.  It was gorgeous out, sunny and 75 degrees.  We got food and our favorite fresh juice, sat down and enjoyed our meal.  Then we walked through the rest of the market and then along the river for a while.  There was a large cruise ship that was docked there, so we sat in the shade where we could look at the ship and the river.  It was very relaxing.  We talked for a while and watched people along the boardwalk.  Then we went to get some very good ice cream tucked away in the old part of the city.  I said my emotional goodbyes to Mariana and Denisse, then Emilia and I got my luggage from her apartment and went to the train station.  When we arrived I realized that she had switched purses and my wallet was still in her apartment...on the other side of the city.  My heart just shattered and there were instant tears.  I knew I wasn't going to make my train, and that was the last train going to Paris that day.  I really needed to be on it because my flight leaves from Paris in the morning.  I started to panic, very very bad panic.  Emilia tried to keep me calm and started running around.  She discovered that there was in fact another train later that day, but it wasn't listed on the internet so we didn't see it earlier.  Relief started to flood back, but then we were told the train was completely full.  So then I was going to have to take a train to a different part of Paris and ride the metro to the airport.  Again, I started to panic at the thought of this.  I have been on the metro in Paris before, and doing it with a lot of heavy luggage was going to be a nightmare!  But that seemed to be my only option.  I stayed with my luggage and started to mentally prepare myself for what I was sure was going to be a very long and hard night.  As I waited, Emilia went back to her apartment to grab my wallet, then literally ran across the city in flip flops to get back to the train station.  When we went to actually switch my ticket, we had a different person helping us, and he discovered that it was in fact possible for me to get on the train I wanted in the first place, the one that would take me straight to the airport.  Again, relief flooded over me!  I can't thank her enough for helping me out!  I said an emotional goodbye to Emilia and then my train left Bordeaux.  Now here I am, safe and sound in my hotel room!  It definitely was not how I wanted to leave Bordeaux.  But hey, getting to Bordeaux was a nightmare, I should have assumed leaving it would be no different! haha : )

On my four hour train ride to Paris, I summarized my journey in numbers:

I have been on 17 flights
In 9 different airports
I have walked through an airport 33 times
Taken 1 overnight bus trip
Been on 42 train rides
Visited 7 countries
And explored 20 cities.

And there you have it.  Krysta's year abroad.  I can't thank everyone enough for all of their love, kindness, and support.  I truly appreciate everything everyone has done for me.  

So for the last time, thank you all for reading!
I can't wait to see everyone!!


"The earth has music for those who listen."
-William Shakespeare 

"A ship is safe in harbor, but that is not what ships are for."
-William G.T. Shedd

"Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears."
-John Lennon 

"Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside you that is greater than any obstacle."
-Christian D. Larson   

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