La fin de la fin.

Trip Start Jan 02, 2011
Trip End Sep 14, 2011

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Flag of France  , Nord-Pas-de-Calais,
Thursday, June 23, 2011

After nearly a month of goodbyes, a dangerous encounter in my neighborhood metro station, and one last unnecessarily complicated french banking experience, I can confess that a large part of me is ready to leave this country. Additionally, I am not sure if my body can handle one more farewell party, another massive 'family' dinner, or any more time sleeping on a creaky bunk bed in a room with no window. In admitting this, I am not in any way trying to suggest that I am ready to leave the temporary life I created here and most importantly the unforgettable group of people that I was lucky enough to have as friends. The fact that I loved my home more than most people, when in reality I likely had the worst room out of all exchange students, speaks loudly I think.

To elaborate on that, I have to explain further my living situation, as in the end it was one of the most unforgettable aspects of my exchange. Many students didn't pay rent for the last month and we wound up taking in quite a few of the homeless and having a jam packed house in Montebello (our beloved neighborhood). Needless to say, our tradition of potluck style family dinners grew slightly out of control, with at least 8 guests per night and usually more. We had a core group of regulars, and always one or two honored guests on any given night. The times we spend squished in that tiny kitchen ended up creating some of the best memories and also some of the strongest friendships of my six months here. We ate the most amazing combinations of international cuisine, talked about the most unusual and sometimes inappropriate subjects, while often dying of laughter as we struggled through one language mixup after another. Even our crazy neighbors must have gotten jealous of the good times happening, as we slowly started getting noise complaints and even a few strange objects thrown through the kitchen window. I could go on and on about how much I am going to miss that house, and I will forever wonder how I got so lucky to live with some of the nicest girls I've ever known and now consider best friends.

Beyond my little montebello community, the larger group of exchange students was equally incredible. Throughout the year of course we had good times, but it was in the last month that we became more and more inseparable. Once we finished exams and people slowly began to leave, there were only a handful of days where nothing big was happening. Although I felt beyond exhausted at times, it was always somebody's last night and we forced ourselves to keep going... As pathetic as it seems, I'm just not equipped for the 'demanding' life of an exchange student, partying every night and sleeping until the afternoon. On that note, however, my mediterranean flatmates have really rubbed off on me, and it now feels somewhat normal to eat breakfast at 2 in the afternoon. Anyways, although in retrospect the last month of my life was a bit of a joke, I think after finishing university and turning 23, a little bit of fun before entering the real world is not too much to ask for... Which explains largely my decision to live in Sicily for the summer!

Although most people reading this probably know the story, for those who don't I will explain... My lovely Italian flatmate offered me a job as a nanny for her younger brother, and the opportunity just seemed to amazing to say no. I never imagined that I would be spending the summer learning Italian in a place that could definitely be considered paradise, but in two days I am getting on a Ryanair flight to Sicily... Between preparing for that and leaving my life here I can say that I've had a lot to think about in the past week.

I decided to be as cheesy as possible and write this entry in one of my favorite places in Lille, a coffee shop with an upstairs room overlooking the Grand Place. I even set aside a whole two hours in my last morning here to make this happen, but of course the French banking system complicated things and took a half hour from me. As always, c'est la vie en France - I now understand all too well why they have this expression. Although I will not miss bizarre bureaucracy, dog poo on every sidewalk, and being looked at like I'm an alien every time I speak French (apparently I have yet to master the accent...), I will of course be sad to leave Lille. Canada just doesn't cut it when it comes to fresh baked croissants, amazing fashion sense, and daily manifestations in the streets. I've gained a lot this semester, and I'm not just talking about the ten kilos that are becoming more visible each day. The fact that I now have a host to take me to carnival in Brazil, snowboarding in Chile, and to a family vineyard in Italy is still hard to believe.

In hopes that this was not the cheesiest blog ever, I will wrap it up and try to be on time for my last rendezvous in Lille before catching the train to Paris. I've been told my place in Italy doesn't have wifi, but with relaxed Sicilian mentality I'm hoping to have enough free time to write entries often and somehow post them online. I guess that means its time to say a grand merci et au revoir, ma chere France, y bonjourno Italia!
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