Moving somewhere new is always a challenge. During my time at Tufts, I’ve moved both into — and then prematurely out of — the classic freshman double in Bush Hall, into and out of a cozy single in a suite in Haskell Hall and then into and partially out of my own off-campus house shared with friends. I say “partially” because in December 2021, I packed up about half of my things and trekked home to New York, a trip that was the first step in the much larger and more daunting move that I would make in the coming weeks.
Each move has signified — as all moves seem to do — the closing of one chapter and the beginning of a new one. No matter how mundane the change, leaving one place behind and adapting to a new environment is always something of a challenge. We grow attached to the people, patterns and spaces we put ourselves in, and we like to stay there. There is comfort in habit, certainly. The act of “packing up” is difficult, too. Beyond the literal Tetris-like puzzle that is fitting an entire dorm room and wardrobe into some blue and yellow Ikea duffels, mismatched suitcases and whatever odd Trader Joe’s tote bags that may be lying around, the experience of seeing “your life” all tucked away in boxes forces us to compartmentalize our own experiences, separating first semester from the second, school year to school year.
And somehow, we always seem to be moving out during the most overwhelming times of the semester — finals season in both December and May — in a mad rush to study for exams and say goodbye to cherished friends while simultaneously packing up everything we own. It is only when we have returned to our hometowns, and the dust has settled a bit, that we find the time to reflect on the semester we have had and the moving we have done. So, yes, moving is tough.
But, of course, there is beauty and adventure and excitement in moving, and in leaving. I now find myself in Paris, studying abroad for the spring semester through the Tufts-in-Paris program. Almost exactly a month has passed between when I arrived and when I’m writing this, and it looks like I may be over the initial adjustment period — you know, when you are figuring out how to live with a host family, choosing your courses, adjusting to a new pace of life and, most importantly, finding your new favorite breakfast food. My hopes with this column are twofold: firstly, that this can be a place where I chronicle and reflect on my own immersion in French culture but also that sharing my experiences can be of use to other students who might be considering whether or not studying abroad will fit into their Tufts experience.
My column might be called “Kate in Paris,” and yes, like “Emily in Paris,” I’m sure there will be a bit of romanticizing that comes along with it, but I hope to provide an authentic, amusing account of what it is like to be immersed in a new city after a college experience that was almost entirely altered by pandemic-related changes and restrictions. À la prochaine!