lessons learned: paris

Studying abroad was a bigger journey for me than I expected. It seemed so simple; you live in a new place for a semester, then come back and gush about what an incredible time you had, and then continue on the life you had before you left. I didn’t expect it to add another huge dimension to my life. Another whole world that I have become a part of that my life back in Asheville and Wilmington, just can’t fully understand. I find myself constantly talking about how things compare to London, or how the food tastes better in Paris, or that super funny phrase that they use overseas. In the end I find myself struggling to integrate these two lives I have created into one. I learned so many new things abroad about myself and the world around me, that I have a hard time sharing with friends and family here. How can I explain the beauty of the eiffel tower lit up at night, or the incredibly bold taste of italian coffee, or the overwhelming excitement searching for treasures in a never ending outdoor market in Camden?

The most common question I get is, “Omg, London! Tell me, how was it?! Tell me all about it!” How am I supposed to sum up three and a half months of adventure in fifteen minutes?  I can’t. I can hardly finish describing the incredible friends I found in that time, let alone anything I ate, saw or experienced. I know, it’s a sob story for the girl who lived in London and now has to adjust to “normal” life. It’s just different. The entire experience is something I can’t explain until one goes abroad themselves. Then you kind of know.

But the more I tell my stories and reflect on my adventures the more certain themes stand out from each trip. I’ll call them my lessons learned; about myself, my friends, my life, and this wondrous world around us. Through each of my big trips, one word or theme stands out. My first real adventure, started in Paris.

Paris: love.

I was in Paris with two of my best friends, Chloe and Kait, and the one word that we couldn’t stop talking about in this city, was love. It is a city of love, from the people, to the the architecture, to the food and ending with the wine. Everything about this city just conveyed love. It was a city that had so much love for it’s history, art, food, culture and people.

I remember the three of us just staying up all night talking about love. The love we had in our lives now; which was for our friends, family and desserts as we were a group of single girls. We talked about our previous loves, our first loves, and future loves. We talked about what we thought love was, what we expected from love, and things in our lives now that we loved. The one thing Paris made me realize, is that my life is so completely full of love. I am so incredibly lucky, and just simply loved. I’ve always been the optimistic type but especially so when it comes to love.

I believe in love more than anything in the world. I believe love does conquer all. I believe love is all you need. I believe love is worth fighting for. And as Celine Dion so gracefully put it, I believe “love comes to those who believe it, and that’s just the way it is.” The one thing I always think of when it comes to love, is that it’s worth it. It’s worth everything. It’s worth the heartbreaks, heartaches and loneliness. It’s worth waiting for.  Someone once asked me to describe love: “to me love is just something you know. It doesn’t need words or a definition, you’ll just know it when you feel it. It’ll be something so powerful, complete, simple and just perfect.” In the same way I asked him to describe love: “you’re in love when you cannot stand to be without them, not even for a second. You never want to think or look at another girl because you are completely content with who you are with, wanting nothing more than her.” Something worth waiting for.

I found love in Paris, in a city so great it filled my heart.

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” – helen keller.

erin.

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