On August 23, 2018, precisely at 5:15 am, the plane landed at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, France. I was sleep deprived, exhausted, but extremely excited and overwhelmed after almost two years of preparations and lengthy trials and errors. Three years before my arrival, I was in transit in Paris after a summer trip to the United States. Little did I know that Paris would be my next destination and a place I would call home away from home. I never thought in my wildest dreams that France would be a destination I would have in my life. I have always considered Europe a checkpoint to eventually going to the US. Life has different plans for us; I am glad I took this risk after this long.
It is a risk because
Deciding to come here was a risk I was hesitant to take. Adding to this, I decided to change my major to study a different field. Although I enjoyed studying engineering, I consider myself an academic. I chose to study a major I wanted to learn for so long. Even so, it wasn’t available back home, so I kept it on hold for my master’s studies. Deep down, I knew studying the field I had in mind would allow me to grow and have numerous opportunities. Leaving home to pursue graduate studies was a dream I turned into a goal when I was in middle school. It was never random; I remained focused regardless of how life has changed, politically speaking, in Libya. Time flies by quickly, and I still can’t believe four years have passed. Thinking back, I sometimes felt confused and uncomfortable since I came to France. However, looking back, I think I was ready to take the step of coming here.
Upon my arrival in France in 2018,
I published an article on my first day as a graduate student, excited to start my degree, titled: (A Passenger’s Story of a Dream that Came True). The article sums up my feelings at that time, and I can sense it while rereading it now. Indeed, I believe staying away from home for this long has been challenging but, at the same time, reflective.
Circumstances never worked in my favor to visit my family, but I know everything happens for a reason. Moving to another country and new culture may seem exciting at first. But there are things people don’t tell you about living on your own. As much as the process prepared me to study abroad, however, I wasn’t much prepared to be completely alone. Although I enjoy my own company, it was tricky from time to time.
Summing Up Four Years
After four years, I can confirm to you, readers, that I have learned beyond my degree. For this long, I learned to face myself and observed my behavior and thoughts changing. I can tell you that it has been quite an experience. Looking back, I came here hyperactive, effortlessly provocative, and confused. It took me so long, but I can tell I have learned to unlearn my toxic behavior. I am still learning to take care of myself better. Managing stress and anxiety has been extremely difficult. Nonetheless, in my recent two years, I have been working it differently, hopefully, better.
I still observe my thoughts and reaction, but I have changed from the person who left home. Four years showed me that things never go according to plan. I am always learning new things, especially managing life and becoming fully responsible for every tiny detail. Although my parents considered me responsible back home, being their eldest child, responsibility here is different. It prepared me better to face circumstances and challenges life throws at us while remaining calm.
Indeed, I am grateful to every person who has helped me since I moved here. Thankful to everyone who showed kindness and compassion to this day. Also, I am grateful for all the opportunities I had and still have and the fantastic people I met. Throughout this experience, I learned to let go of what and who doesn’t serve me. In addition, I learned to detach myself from toxic and disrespectful interactions.
Developing healthy boundaries is not easy. Yet, this time allowed me to learn how to create healthy ones without hurting people and take responsibility for my actions. Moreover, I realized that I was afraid of being alone and continued to fill the void. However, once I learned my worth and prioritized my peace, being alone was my choice. The only difference is that now I feel content with it.
Walking Through Change in France
Changing from being a student to entering professional life and working on steadily building a career helped me immensely to see life differently. It additionally helped me expand my understanding beyond academia regardless of external pressure. Although it has been two years since I graduated, I feel grateful for taking this significant step.
Regardless, I am trusting the process for what’s to come. I have a long road ahead, but I am open to what life has for me. Thus far, living in France for this long has allowed me to grow and have many experiences. I will surely remember them with gratitude and love no matter where life will take me next. Because of this experience, I will always encourage people to take risks. Remember, if you never try, you will never know.