Epilogue

When I talk about my travels, people often ask my favorite city, and I can never answer.  In fact, I’m not good with favorites in general and can rarely choose one, be it color or song or movie.  But if someone were to ask my favorite moment from my time abroad, I could answer in a heartbeat.

My last trip of the year was to Split, Croatia.  I was sad that I would soon be leaving Europe, I was stressed about finding a job, and I wanted to take one last trip to relax and sit by the sea.  It was spring, which is by far my favorite time of year.  The grass was green, flowers were in bloom, the water was warm enough for wading.  I didn’t have any real agenda, so I spent most of my days wandering around town at random, stopping into shops and restaurants whenever I had the whim.

I stopped in a park one day and sat on a bench under a tree to people-watch.  It started to rain, a gentle rain that fell quietly and cooled the air to the perfect temperature.  My tree sheltered me completely, and I pulled out a book, dry and comfortable, as people rushed past with hoods and umbrellas.  The breeze was cool but not cold and had that perfect spring-rain scent.  And while I read under my tree, in the rain, I felt completely at peace.  I wasn’t worried about money or finding a job or leaving Europe.  I wasn’t thinking about the future at all.  For one of the only times that I can pinpoint in my life, I felt like everything was okay, and everything would be okay, and I was happy.

The title of this blog, Kelsy in the Present Tense, was meant to remind me not to dwell on the past or future and to enjoy the present.  I didn’t succeed in doing that very often, but this moment in Split is one of the few times that I did.  I can still smell the freshness of the air; I can still feel the coolness of the breeze, the lightness in my heart, the contentment in the pit of my stomach.  I spend far too much time getting caught up in the uncertainties of life, and moments like these are too few and far between.  I’m aware of them, though, and maybe I spend too much time looking for them; maybe they only happen when I’m not thinking about it.  I plan trips and adventures, seeking this contentment, and I only seem to find it when I forget to look.

The big adventures I had abroad were wonderful, but they’re not the ones that I think about the most.  The moments I treasure are the quiet ones, the peaceful, subtle, perfect ones.  Because really, maybe I love to travel so much because I’m just looking for a place to feel at home.

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The End

And that nearly concludes my (public) thoughts on my year in France.  After this, I’ll be publishing one final post to wrap things up.  I’m more than a little sad to say that; I loved writing this blog, I loved living in France, I loved traveling, and I loved interacting with all of you.  I’m glad that I came back for a few final posts to give myself some closure, but it’s time for me to move on.  Years of my life revolved around this chapter, from the planning and anticipation to the experience itself to the nostalgia afterward.  For a long time, I thought it defined my life, or I wanted it to, and I’m realizing that it doesn’t, and it shouldn’t.  There are more adventures to come, and while I’ll always treasure these memories, I’m going to do my best to start living in the present tense.  (See what I did there?)

I haven’t decided if that officially means the end of this blog or not.  I may come back someday and take it in a new direction, but I can’t promise that it won’t be another two years, or even more, before I do that.  Before I go, know that each of you has meant so much to me, whether we’re family or we’ve been friends for years or we only know each other virtually.  Having you along on my adventure, feeling your support, and knowing that I’m never alone mean more to me than words can express.  And alas, what good is a blog without words?  So I’ll say goodbye for now, and thank you, and I wish you all the best.

Love,
Kelsy

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The First (Why TAPIF Wasn’t the Same as Study Abroad)

When I applied to be a language assistant, I told myself that I knew it wouldn’t be the same as the first time I lived in France.  I knew that I wouldn’t have the same friends or the same experiences; I knew I wouldn’t be in the same town.  I told myself not to expect the same experience.  I didn’t listen. Continue reading

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Two Years

Today marks the two-year anniversary of my return to the United States from my year in France.  It’s simultaneously unfathomable that it could have been that long and unfathomable that it ever happened at all. Continue reading

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Coming to Terms

September 2014

It’s been a rough summer.  I’ve had a hard time readjusting to American life (living with my family, no less!) and coming to terms with the fact that I’m not going back to France next year.  For those of you who knew I was trying to find a job in France…it didn’t happen. I had interviews, I was put on a wait list, and I was offered a position if I could get there within a week…but nothing worked out in the end. I know this is for the best–although I have the utmost respect for teaching and education, it’s not my intended career path, and those were the only jobs for which I had any leads. However, knowing this and truly feeling that France isn’t the best place for me right now are two different things. Some days I’m okay with it. Some days I stay up all night reading my old blog posts and looking at pictures from my adventures abroad, feeling so nostalgic that it’s nearly paralyzing. Tonight is one of those nights. Continue reading

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Croatia: Plitvice Lakes

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My final trip before coming back to the U.S. was to Croatia, which I partially documented here.  In addition to visiting Split, I took a day trip to Plitvice Lakes, which is a gorgeous national park that includes over a dozen lakes and various waterfalls.

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Resurrected

Hello, old friends.  As I approach the two-year anniversary of my return from France, I’ve been bothered that I never quite finished this blog.  I wasn’t in a great place when I first came back to the United States, and finding the energy to write a few final posts was just too much.  I did find a few completed drafts that I for some reason never published, likely because I wasn’t quite ready to put those thoughts out into the world, and I also have a few things to add that I’ll be writing in the present day.  I want to be able to look back at this blog as a complete record of my experience, so I have returned, a little late and a little different, to finish the job.  In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting about a couple of final trips that I took and didn’t document here (I kept a hand-written travel journal, so I’ll be digging that out to refresh my memory), as well as the transition back to the U.S. and how I feel about it all two years later.  Coming back was filled with a lot of emotions, so if you’re into philosophical, self-indulgent, overly-sentimental monologues, stay tuned.  It’s nice to be back, if only for a little while!

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