November 23, 2017

The Opportunity of a Lifetime

Paris

Photo courtesy of worldpolicy.org

by Sam Pellman ’20

 

Today was the day. The day she’d leave her home for three months and never look back. Well, not really. This also wasn’t just leaving for college; she was a junior after all. No, this was different. Instead of returning to her beloved campus she’d missed all summer long, she was getting on a plane and going to a different country. Better yet, a different continent, across the world. Thousands and thousands of miles away.

Were the nerves kicking in? Just a little bit. The summer started off fine, there were no anxieties, just stress-free, sunny beach days. Yet, the closer and closer it got to August, the more and more she began to doubt her decision. Should she really have committed to studying abroad? Was she really going to be able to survive three months across the globe? Without her family or friends? At this point, it looked as if death were inevitable. She wanted to withdraw from this program, get out and run. Go to back to campus, her home away from home, the familiar place she felt comfortable in. Yet, every time she tried to stop herself from going through with this choice, something stopped her. She didn’t know what it was, but something wouldn’t let her miss this opportunity. After all, this is an opportunity of a lifetime.

When else will she be able to roam around the streets of Paris with a crepe in one hand and a simple tea in the other? At what other point in her life will her study spot be that shady bench under the Eiffel Tower? When else will she be able to spend her Sundays getting brunch with baguettes and onion soup and then later getting lost in the Louvre? Or will she be able to run up and down the halls of the Palace of Versailles pretending she was royalty? All this rested in the back of her head. She pictured herself doing all these things and remembered that if she dropped out now, all these dreams would only be dreams. They’d be fantasies she’d never be able to explain to anyone else because they simply aren’t real.

It was finally the day to leave, but instead of being only nervous, she was excited. Excited to begin a new life, have a fresh start in a place where no one knew who she was. She could express herself, experience an entirely different culture, and maybe even find who she is. Maybe that’s the whole point of going so far. To immerse yourself into a different life with no one’s help but your own. To grow as a person and come back full of new and engaging intelligence of a place your heart has been for three months. To give up this opportunity is to give up a dream. She squeezed her parents one last time; after all, they promised they’d make an extended visit at some point. She grabbed her passport and turned to the gate. This was it, this was her new beginning. She turned around one last time and shouted, “Au Revoir!” to America for at least a little bit. From here on, she’s a French girl.

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Short Fiction