Winter Reflections

Hope G. is currently a junior at SYA France and a Campus Storytelller. She comes to SYA from Charlotte Latin School.

Although cliche, I found truth in the words “distance makes the heart grow fonder” as the train pulled out of the bustling station in Rennes and set off for Paris early on the cold December morning. Until that moment, my mind had been so occupied with the exciting travels ahead, that I had not paid mind to the fact that I was saying goodbye to Rennes for the next ten days, and had not expected to miss the city so quickly, if at all. However, I immediately felt relieved to know I would be returning in just over a week. Despite my impatience to hug my parents for the first time since coming to France, and my bubbling anticipation to spend time with them, exploring the arrondissements of Paris, and tasting fresh stroopwafels in Amsterdam, the thought of Rennes brought a wistful smile to my lips.

During the trip, a comforting feeling had settled in the back of my mind that seeped into my thoughts as I closed my eyes to go to sleep under the crisp hotel sheets, grasped the handgrip of the swaying Paris metro car, and checked the street for Dutch cyclists before crossing: at the end of the incredible trip, filled with sight-seeing, friends-visiting, and time together with my family, I would be able to return home in a state of tired contentment. 

As I finally stepped off the return train, arms full with baggage and tokens from my adventure away, I realized that Rennes truly has become my home. While my excitement to return was partially due to my eagerness to sleep in my own bed, and wear some clothes other than the few I was able to fit in my carry-on suitcase along with everything else I had needed to bring, it was largely a result of the fondness of the home I have found here.

Photo of Rennes taken by SYA France High School student Hope

I remember when I first arrived in the city, I couldn’t help but feel that everything seemed cold and foreign, yet coming back  from traveling made me realize that, without my notice, the city had shifted. The long, daunting cobblestone streets are lined with shops and cafes that my friends and I meander in and out of on pleasant afternoons, the metro that was so new to me is now my favorite way of getting about, and all around the vast, insurmountable city that we explored during our first fieldwork is littered with memories, favorite meetups, and cozy hangouts. Not only the city, but also the school, my house, my host family, and my friends here had all transformed into something familiar and comforting. In four months I have ventured out and explored, learned, tried, discovered, and laughed, all the while finding a home in the people and places around me. My adventure away had helped me realize where home already was. 

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