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Au revoir, Paris

Seven students are currently studying in France with ORU’s study abroad program.

“Travel tastes like a hot cinnamon roll to me. It’s like the rush of adrenaline you get when your eyes meet a handsome stranger’s, except it stays with you, keeping your feet moving and your eyes roaming.” I wrote those words on a plane to Paris over three months ago. Count on me to be dramatic, if nothing else. And obsessed with cinnamon rolls, of course.

Time and experience haven’t changed my love of travel, although it has morphed the idea into something less shiny and new, a compass whose sides are well-worn from handling.

“These exits confused me so badly whenever we first came here, now they’re just a part of life,” my friend and fellow traveler, Cassandra Garza, commented to me just today, as we hopped off the metro at the Bastille stop, bent on coffee and bagels (you can’t take the American out of the girls).

It’s true—we weave through the metro with ease, familiar with this dance, our pace quick and our gaze direct. We’ve changed, become a part of the landscape here, seven girls added to the ever-growing population of Paris. Just as I forget my American accent, though, the wind blows my scarf over my mouth as I gaze over the Seine River and I remember that this place of breathless beauty is my home for only a few more weeks.

Many people have asked me what I’ve learned here, what my favorite part has been. I can say confidently that my favorite part has been Martin Luther King Church, to see this church thrive in the midst of a culture where God is equated with weakness and Christianity dwindles faster and faster.

As to what I’ve learned, I don’t think I’ll know until my feet hit American soil. I aim to be present in each of these last moments, and there is little time for self-reflection. I still have a few more adventures before I leave, after all.

As you say goodbye to ORU for 2017 and I say goodbye to France and MLK, there are a few people who deserve some recognition.

Thank you, ORU, for sending us on this adventure. Thank you for letting us stumble and for picking us up again. Thank you for this once in a lifetime opportunity. To the professors who worked with us, thanks for not giving up on us. To the Paris Project team, I appreciate you all more than I appreciate coffee, which is a lot.

Thank you, Hannah Sink, for keeping me sane on our Facetime calls and, you know, being my best friend. Emma Giddens, you’re the real—and my favorite—unicorn. Cori, thanks for letting your maid of honor live halfway around the world when I should be picking out napkin colors with you. To those of you reading this, thanks. I really appreciate you for reading my scribbles.

Here we are, at the end of the semester. We let out the breath we’ve been holding for too many weeks now. It’s time for jingle bells and hot chocolate and letting go of a year full of derailed plans. It’s time for a new adventure.

ORU, we’ll see you soon. Just look for the berets.