A Keepsake for the Road

Esinam G. is currently a junior at SYA France and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from The Madeira School in Virginia.

Profite bien. If I had to pick one keepsake from this year it would be this. Loosely translated, it means to make the most of something. It means to take advantage of the moment you are living in. It is something my host mum says to me each time I go out with my friends, leave for a trip or when I let her know I will be sleeping in through the morning. It serves as a mantra that people live by here. Before embarking upon anything, there is someone around the corner advising you to profite bien.

Making the most of an experience can come in so many different forms. For some, it is to live like tomorrow may never come. For others, it is a pledge they make to never say no to an invitation that comes their way. For me, it is to simply be present. In September, nine months in Rennes felt like May would never arrive and I had an eternity in this beautiful city. Looking back now, those months are delicately weaved together in my mind forming a never-ending line of overlapping memories. It is difficult to envision each month separately because time has flown by.

Goodbyes are a significant part of life and in nine days, we will be saying ours. Time cannot and will not wait for anybody so the only way to profite bien is to live in the very moment you are in. Hold on to those hugs you receive for one second longer and allow yourself to feel; concentrate on that joy brewing in your chest when you are sitting in the park on a rare sunny day in Bretagne. Give yourself the space to feel the inevitable sadness, the overwhelming gratitude and even the pain of having to leave. Each of these moments are part of the experience and crucial to this process.

Future SYA students: Profite bien. Stop at the very centre of République and take a deep breath. Lift your head up from your phone and observe the scenery around you while you are on the bus. Savor each bite of the pastries from the yellow boulangerie. Live presently.

To my wonderful class of SYA 2019, my amazing teachers and my precious host family:You made this year I lived the best one yet. Maybe it was knowing that we only had nine months to profite bien of this experience; maybe it was somehow a perfect combination of people I met during my time here; maybe it was the sheer fear of impending regret. Whatever it was, du fond de mon coeur, thank you. You taught me to profite bien because life is simply too short to do anything else.

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