I decided to leave early from Nice due to stress. After having a semester filled with the most amazing experiences of awakening and growth I still felt that I could not keep up academically. During my last week in France, I spent my last days studying really hard and praying that I would pass all of my exams.
One night, my group (Alex, Stacia, Marthe, Brandon, and I) went out for dinner together and we had a good discussion about what our expectations of our experiences in France were compared to the reality of living there. We went around the table sharing what we were grateful for having experienced while living abroad. I was so grateful to have gone with my group of people because we became close in an unexpected way and I loved how we really watched out for each other and took care of one another. It was just one of those curve-ball blessings that life sometimes slyly throws your way.
The day before my literature exam (the one I had been dreading the most), Brandon, Marthe, and I had our African dance showcase. The event took place at a theater and all the school’s dance groups (jazz, modern, Bollywood, Hip-hop etc. ) were set to perform that night. I invited V, Amie, and Jen and I was really glad that they came out to support me even though it was on a school night. The night was amazing and all the performances were excellent. Stacia and Alex also finally got to see what we (Marthe, Brandon, and I) had been working towards in our dance class throughout the semester.
In the midst of all that, before heading on stage, I spent most of my time studying my notes backstage by trying to cram in as much information as we had learned on the different periods of French literature and literary history that we had covered in class.
The next day, the day of the test, I was nervous. The first half of the literature exam was not so bad. The second part however, the one on literary analysis was what did me in. I had finally had it. I knew I could not spend the next semester taking another literature class and torturing myself while keeping my fingers crossed and hoping to pass the semester. Graduation was at stake, money was at stake, and my peace of mind was in jeopardy. I decided that I would rather take the chance to leave early, return home, and then retake classes at my university if my scores weren’t high enough rather than risk staying in France, receiving bad results, and having to redo the whole semester again while in France.
It was very hard to break the news to my professor and my host family. Partly because the choice was so abrupt (very last minute) but also because it felt like I was letting people down, myself included. It was a matter of do I exercise faith by staying or do I exercise faith by leaving. In the end, I decided to do what felt right, which was to leave, even though it broke me apart on the inside and felt like such a huge betrayal.
Once exams were over, we all started saying our goodbyes and Marthe and I even visited Alex (and Cami) very late the night before she left Nice. She gave me a few items to pass around town and also all the food that was left in her apartment. We had our last few moments of kumbaya and then that was it. We parted ways.
On my last full day in Nice, I spent my time walking around town. I walked all along the Promenade des Anglais, I ran into this couple that asked me for directions and walked them to the Place Massena fountain. It also warmed my heart to learn that one of their mothers-in-law had the same name as me. I handed out the packages that Alex had left in my care and en route home, I ran into Yuhan. We walked till our paths diverged and wished each other the best of luck in all our future endeavors.
When I got back in, it was evening, and I spent that time getting everything packed into my suitcases until I heard the familiar “à table!” coming from the kitchen. My last dinner with my host family was very sweet. I got a card and meaningful parting gift from them and I was so sad to be leaving. They had welcomed me into their home, we had shared lots of laughter, and I felt so honored to have been a part of their lives for even such a short period of time. My host mom was especially such a gracious person and I was deeply touched by her kindness and generosity.
As I was leaving very early the next morning, she met up with me at the elevator to remind me that I would always be welcome there. And as the elevator doors came to a close, her last words to me were, “Take care of yourself.”