Two years ago, many of you dear readers may know that I embarked a journey as a master’s degree student in Paris, France. A place completely foreign to my future plans. If you were to tell me back in 2017 when I was planning my graduate studies that I will be studying in France, I will be considering your words a joke.
2017 was the year I applied for a lot of things the most and got rejected in every single thing I applied for until by the end of the year, I got the acceptance letter that eventually led me to where I am today. France and Europe in general were never part of my future plans.
Ever since I was in middle school, I had the plan of pursuing my graduate studies in the United States and I got admitted in one of the best universities there as I planned. Everything was part of a bigger plan, bigger than me and I had no hands in but to have faith.
Doing a master’s degree was a dream I turned into a goal. My life was about making it come a reality one day. I always believed in Education and I invested my time and energy to educate myself on so many levels throughout the years and make the best of my time at school.
I think that the education I got in my school where I studied from primary to high school shaped me to be the person I am today. It was not just a school for me but more of a home. My school principals are parents to me and I look up to them in many ways and they are still part of my life to this day and I share my success with them.
The past two years have been the best of my life. Not only academically but personally. It is the longest time I spent solo with myself and we all owe it to ourselves to spend time with ourselves at some point and get to know us from another perspective.
I shed tears, I laughed, made precious memories and met amazing people through the past two years. I came to this country full of hesitation of my decision, the fact that I decided to study something completely different from my major.
I wanted to do my master’s in environmental science which is still in relation to my chemical engineering background but I ended up doing my master’s in International Affairs, specifically in environmental policy, a complete political realm and I have no academic background in international relations.
The knowledge I have comes from external readings and following the news and engaging in discussions, nothing more. I came here completely scared, I believe it is the biggest risk I have ever taken. I chose to come to a country that I don’t speak its language, I have no prior visit or knowledge of its culture apart from it being the best country in making pastry and bread.
My first week here was like hell. I don’t remember myself crying this much in my life the way I did here in my first week. I almost ran out of money, I almost couldn’t secure a room in the residence and I cried my eyes out. I remember when I managed to secure a room and when the night sat in, I could feel the silence, utter silence. It hit me after a week that I was alone. The first few days before finding a place, I was crying myself to sleep in the hotel room.
I cried while eating cheese toast in a park while carrying my bags with me. I cried in taxis. I cried out of frustration and that maybe I made a mistake by coming to France. The system here is different and even in university back home, I studied the American educational system not the European, add to it, the shift in major. France is one of the leading countries when it comes to social and political sciences majors and I was the engineer who decided to study politics.
In these two years, I discovered myself from a new aspect. I was left from a toxic relationship after a week of being here, it added to the troubles I was already having and it left me broken to my core. The fear was still enlisted within me and I had a fear of my major and how I would pass my courses and the change in environment.
People here turned out to be really rude and they are not easy to deal with if you don’t speak in French and I was still taking French classes at university while dealing with my classes and deadlines. I thought I was okay but I was sensitive towards everything. I knew something was wrong and I chose therapy because I couldn’t fix things on my own and I am glad I spent the majority of these years visiting a therapist who helped me greatly face my issues and problems and I found my way.
However, I got the chance to discover Europe and I visited some countries in Europe and also cities in France. Most importantly, I discovered Paris and the art of this mesmerizing city. I had deep discussions and learned from people’s experiences from all over the world.
I laughed and cried endlessly. The person I am today is a totally different person from the person who first came here two years ago. I know myself better now and I got to know what is best for me. I went through a very long heeling process and it took so much effort from me while handling my studies and research.
I am proud of myself during this journey and I hope that I shared a glimpse of these two years in a few paragraphs. My advice to anyone scared of starting a new journey, I think the motto that says ”great things happen out of our comfort zone” is legit and I encourage you to leave your comfort zones.
It is okay to be scared but remember that great things will come out of this risk. If you believe in doing something maybe many will be against you, trust your gut feeling and do it. Life is about experiences and discoveries so use your time to do so.
I am not saying it was an easy way to come here but I didn’t give up. I had hard times back home because of the instability there, however, I remained focused even when I was in doubt. Leaving Libya and my family behind was not easy but their support helped me in this journey.
France was not my comfort zone, my major was not my comfort zone, nevertheless, I managed to push through and I will not forget the support of family and friends but mainly, my best friend, who was there for me in every step of the way.