Endings, as I am sure we have all heard or felt ourselves, are often bittersweet. There is sadness in closing one chapter and knowing that things will likely never be exactly as they once were, and there is apprehension in the thought of what might come next. Will it match what came before? Did we make the most of the time we had when we had it, before it was gone?
But, of course, there is sweetness. And that is what I am choosing to focus on as I close out what has been a truly wonderful semester spent writing this column about my time in Paris.
These 4 ½ months really went by in the blink of an eye. I remember sitting down to write the first installment of my column, thinking of how to synthesize the ups and downs of my first month here into coherent thoughts. Back then, the time that stretched out before me seemed endless, full of opportunities, experiences not yet had, friendships not yet made. Looking back at each iteration of my column, I see myself becoming more and more at home here, becoming more self-confident and more open to new experiences. More myself. And now we are here — when this last column installment is published, I will likely be mid-air on my flight from Paris to New York, my semester here tucked away in my back pocket and packed up in my suitcases, kept alive in my camera roll, my fond memories, my new friendships and this column. It’s a sweet thought. No bitterness here.
And while my own Tufts commencement is still a year out, I get that same feeling when I scroll through my camera roll, reflecting back on the three years I have spent as a Tufts student. Memories from my time as a first-year through my junior year rush back, and I see growth and change accumulate and reveal itself over time. The sweetness of my Tufts experience, no matter the time lost to a pandemic and the ‘what ifs’ that might circulate as a result, still prevails.
I have been very fortunate to study abroad and tack this semester onto my overall Tufts experience, a fact that has not been lost on me. I have had the time and space to grow into myself — to put myself in a new environment and figure out how to adapt quickly. And I have been able to do it all with the knowledge that, even though the semester itself that I have spent here is finite, I can carry this experience with me wherever I go from here onward.
And so, even though I have chosen to so melodramatically title this last column “The end,” I know it isn’t, really. That is why endings are often not actually endings, but commencements — the start of something new. You take the experiences and memories with you as you move on, and they become a permanent part of who you are. My time in Paris will live on in the way I remember it, the friendships I’ve made, the knowledge I’ve gained and the stories I tell.