It’s not until now, with my spirit hovering over the waters of the Atlantic, that my new reality starts to register. I’m not just leaving—I’m arriving. For the next seven months I’ll be working as an English teaching assistant in the city of Chambéry—cradled in the Alps. I’m going back to France. Back to another world, both alien and familiar. A different language, a different paradigm, a different life. A return to the daily adventure, sustained novelty, and real baguettes.
I am at a new threshold, fresh from collegiate exodus. It’s a time of great opportunity—and thus great consequence. I feel pressured knowing that the coming months will be extremely formative. How will I sustain from afar relationships that are dear to me? How will I manage my increased independence? How will I make time count?
This next phase in my life will be a sort of genesis: exploring, teaching, traveling, writing, and living well. I need to discover and define who I am in a world outside of academia. If I were anywhere else, I would still be exploring this new identity, but moving to France compounds the searching. By exploring environments, cultures, and relationships around me I hope to get a better sense of the world and my place in it.
As the flight attendants roll out our food—or rather, the symbol of food—I can finally feel I’m in the beginning again.