Goodbyes

Gretchen M. is currently a junior at SYA France and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools in Illinois.

Spring has always been my favorite season. Muddy grass replaces gray and slushy-melted snow while leaves return–green and fragrant–from piles and cracks in the sewers to oaks and bushes around the city. Days feel longer in a fresh exciting way as the sun prolongs my motivation. Spring brings the usual anticipation for summer and a lack of obligation giving me something and somewhere to look forward to. Spring has always been, like its stereotype, a time of refreshment and movement. In Rennes, the same signs of spring emerge with shorter skirts and light sweaters taking up space in my bag after sitting out too long in Parc du Thabor. Morning walks to the C2 bus seem easier when I can leave my puffer hanging in my wardrobe. But, no matter how nice the weather gets here and however excited I am to sit in the sun for hours in the coming months and despite being happy to see flowers once again, I just can not seem to like the spring this year.  

I think it might be because this spring I have to say goodbye. I have to say goodbye to my corner seat in Salle 1 of Villa Alvarez, the seat where I sit through three of my five daily classes. I have to say goodbye to my window on rue Charles Nicolle and the odd French way it opens in three different directions. I have to say goodbye to my Wednesday afternoons at Columbus Cafe or walking through République deciding which store windows are worth our collective attention. I have to say goodbye to the teachers that guided me through this experience, not only with their lessons but with their open doors. I have to say goodbye to the friends and new family who I would have never guessed in September I would let see every single aspect of myself. I have to say goodbye and I have no clue how.   

I’ve started to notice that not knowing how to say goodbye seems to feel a bit nostalgic. Last August I didn’t feel ready to leave who and what I was comfortable with, I didn’t feel ready to live in a different country with entirely new people and in an entirely new family. But however unready I was, I boarded a plane at O’Hare to Charles de Gaulle and somehow, I did it. So maybe I do know how to say goodbye. I said goodbye to so many fears and so many traits that didn’t serve my best interests by boarding that plane and I let myself live in those goodbyes: learning and growing. 

I don’t think anyone is ever really ready to let go, regardless of what they are letting go of, so I won’t do it intentionally. I will leave parts of myself on the front stairs of SYA, in my back streets and alcoves around Rennes. I’ll leave pieces of myself with new family and friends in memories, drawings, stickers, stuffed animals, inside jokes, partitions, and spices. I will say goodbye to the physicality but I won’t have to say goodbye to the person I have become while studying here.

 I won’t be ready to leave on May 26th and I don’t think I could ever prepare myself for these goodbyes, I will however be prepared to take on “the after”. My last goodbye let me experience the world through an entirely new perspective. So, within that sentiment, in less than a month I will board my flight back to O’Hare from Charles de Gaulle incredibly grateful and full of goodbyes but equally as full of excitement for whatever I do next. 

À bientôt, Gretchen M. 

  • Campus Reporters
  • SYA France
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