I don’t remember ever formally deciding to study abroad; rather, I’ve always just known that seeing the world was a priority for me. Choosing a city and program was the challenging part, but CEA made this easy.
While the "abroad" part of "study abroad" is often what draws students, to me, the "study" piece was just as important. I value my academics, and thus they were the deciding factor; CEA had more classes than any other program that transferred back into my degree and piqued my interest. Soon enough, I found myself enrolled to study Art History in Paris.
While this sounds like an absolute dream, my classmates and I are only human and definitely experienced the lows to balance the highs this semester. Feeling lonely and overwhelmed -- my biggest fears prior to going abroad -- were inevitable parts of being on my own, living in a foreign country, and growing up. I overcame these reservations by living through them: recognizing difficult situations as opportunities for growth, and turning negative experiences into positive ones. Finally learning to just be in a French Café was the catalyst for understanding that I, in the words of Brené Brown, “am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”
And the belonging is my favorite part! I have a home with my family in Philadelphia, back at school in Ithaca, and now on my own in the streets of Paris. Studying abroad in Paris has been invaluable and unforgettable; I feel like a flower in full bloom. My personal outlook has grown to include more places and faces than I'd ever imagined, and the “foreseeable future” is brighter and more clear than ever before.
Merci beaucoup, Paris -- et à bientôt !
Abigail Haley is the Fall 2018 CEA MOJO Blogger in Paris, France, and is currently studying at Ithaca College.