It's time to leave! And what a year it's been...
This blog has been an amazing way of reflecting daily on the amazing and surreal experiences I have had during my year abroad and being able to look back on it in the future will be something I'll always be grateful for. It has had pretty high ups and pretty low downs, but I wouldn't change it for a minute. I have learnt so much and become so much more of a better person than I was before my year abroad, thanks to the amazing people and opportunities I have encountered along the way. I wanted this blog to stay very positive and enjoyable, which was an easy feat in France, but a few weeks into Naples I realised that it was a better idea to be completely honest about my experiences, even if they are not all smiles and sunshine!
France was the best 6 months of my life. The country, the food and the culture were amazing, but what made it incredible were the people. My incredible housemates, who went miles out of their way to help me fit in and make sure I always had a social life, will be people I have only been more grateful for since I have lived in Naples which is a completely different experience. Aix is the best city I have been to, and I will and do miss it more than I can say. I can't wait for when I return in the future, and hope I can see all the amazing people I met there again. Sure, sometimes things were mildly frustrating at the start with university admin problems, but these were barely problems, and even at the time I knew every problem I faced was outshined by the fantastic atmosphere of the city given by the people that inhabited it. Aix will always be in my mind!
Naples was a very different story. I always expected Italy to be more fun than France, although I don't really know why I thought this. There were times in Naples that I nearly gave up and left. But every erupting volcano, knife threat, pickpocket, harassment and university issue taught me something invaluable. While my housemate learnt how to be truly sassy and never let that city win (I'm so proud of her for this) I learnt to truly, truly appreciate every good thing that comes my way, and to stay positive after even the hardest, scariest day. Little things in Naples truly blessed me each day, whether it was one teacher at university giving me some long-agonized-over advice, a kind stranger out and about or even just the sheer beauty of the volcanic, historic, beach-side mash of cultures and language that is Naples. I am proud to say I got through everything it threw at me and am still smiling at the end!
So all in all, this year has toughened me up, but most importantly has taught me to be always grateful, positive and happy no matter what life throws at me. I am grateful for English culture, admin - even food! - more than I ever thought possible. And if I ever forget this life lesson, it is immortalised in my blog to remind me.
Aix, Naples... Ciao and au revoir!