“Before you go, write a postcard to yourself describing your thoughts/feelings about your upcoming trip. When you receive it, think about how it makes you feel.”
This seemingly simple task caused me to experience three stages of major feels… One the day before I left. One when I read the postcard back to myself in my little room in the halls in Lille. And one right now, exactly one year to the day (crazy right?!) after arriving in Lille.
Before I left
Typically people say they were terrified before leaving to embark on their year abroad. I wasn’t when I wrote the postcard the day before I left. That terror came later when I actually arrived in Lille and I realised how helpless I was in a country where I barely spoke the language. But the day before leaving, I was more devastated to be honest. I had just had the “best” summer, working the Fringe, meeting loads of people and partying until 9am every morning. Moving to Lille meant I was leaving all the fun and all my friends, new and old, behind.
During the Fringe, YOFO was the work motto: “You only Fringe once… unless you did it last year”. Naturally, that made it into the postcard I wrote to Future Gina, only changed to YOLO: “You only Lille once!” (awards on originality welcome).
Reading the postcard in Lille set off a whole different set of emotions. Pride was the main one I experienced. I was living in a different country, having explored so much already (only half way into the year) and was having the time of my life! I’d gone there totally by myself, left everyone I knew behind (although I didn’t want to) and made an amazing new bunch of friends. I’d done my Lille-YOLO proud.
It also made me realise how much more amazing Lille had been than the Fringe! It was tougher, for sure, particularly with my still-terrible French, but it was so much more rewarding. I’d made friends with some majorly cool people all by myself (no other native English speakers to help me along) and I’d already visited so many new places by the time I’d received the postcard, and had so many more adventures planned for the coming months!
Those adventures were to keep me going though; mainly to avoid homesickness and experiencing any FOMO (fear of missing out) from all the Edinburgh events I would have been attending if I’d still been living there. I did have a little cry about missing my hometown- the beaut picture on my postcard didn’t help- but I knew how much I loved Lille and all the people in it. I didn’t even want to think that soon my time in Lille would be just like the Fringe- just a memory.
Very sentimental. A couple tears. But so many smiles. I didn’t want to acknowledge that my year abroad would, at some point, be just a memory. But seriously, what a fantastic one it is.
Thank you Lille, you were amazing.