Graduation is upon me. In a year and a couple months I will be graduating from the University of Miami in southern Ohio. The thought of this makes my head dizzy and my stomach churn. If I have learned anything from studying abroad in Southern France, it is that one is never done learning: I am not even close.
During my short time in Aix-en-Provence, I have found that there is so much more to discover. This semester abroad has inspired me to learn more languages and to study in a variety of different countries. After graduation, I plan to pursue these interests because while formal education is necessary to conform to the standards of society, I have never been so inspired to learn, strive and push myself beyond my perceived limits than while studying abroad.
This experience has not only helped me to shape my goals for the future, but it has aided me in discovering my true potential. I have realized here that the French expression, La vie est belle (life is beautiful), is more than a simple phrase commenting on the aesthetic beauty of France. It is a way of life, of being, of speaking, of acting. Being in France has given me something that is impossible to be learned - one cannot achieve this understanding in a formal classroom. I have come to understand that fixed ideas and perspectives only succeed in limiting us from our highest potential.
I have no doubt that my life has been altered by this experience. I used to always have a state of mind in the past or always in the future. At home, in Ohio, my friends and family always told me to live in the present. Here, this was thrust upon me although I did not get it completely at first, I grew to understand it. For me, this is something I deeply needed. I will have this forever, long after I return to Ohio and graduate from college.
My experience in Aix-en-Provence is inexplicably connected to whatever I hope to achieve after graduation. I may not be exactly sure what that is but I now have an experience that has ingrained a sense of relaxation and repose into my daily mentality.
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