The time has come not for me to recognize that I’ll never be a half-way decent blogger because I lack the motivation, but instead to foolishly say I’ll give this whole thing one more try. Four months ago, I was hoping to close the book on my year studying abroad, and today, there still remains much to be said.
At the end of May, once classes had ended for the year, I made quick plans to travel the six hundred fifty or so kilometers to Albi, in Midi-Pyrénées. It’s where I spent one of my loveliest summers, living with a family eager to help timid, fifteen year-old me, far away from home, improve my French and appreciate life along the Tarn. I said goodbye after a short three weeks, in much more fluent French than when I had met them, with a much deeper understanding of French life and a friendship with four of the most generous and kindhearted people I have ever known. As Thierry, Elisabeth, Anna and Maëlle bade me farewell at the train station, I remember crying as I was handed a Nutella sandwich made on fresh brioche. Nutella and brioche I love, of course, but I’m not particularly fond of goodbyes.
Luckily, I was eased by the knowledge that Maëlle would soon be joining me and my family in California for three weeks. And luckier still, when my family was arranging travel plans for the following summer, we were welcomed à bras ouverts to add Albi to our itinerary, allowing both of our families to meet for the first time.
So I really shouldn’t have been so surprised when my host family invited me to come back to Albi for a visit during my year in Nantes. I took the train, stopping briefly in Bordeaux, before continuing on to Toulouse-Matabiau, where I met Thierry and Maëlle on the station platform. On the road to Albi, Thierry and I caught up while Maëlle, a serious veterinary student, studied for final exams in the back seat (la pauvre). Once in town, I felt completely at home. The following morning I set out on my own, sometimes knowing the way, sometimes getting lost. The streets of Albi, la vraie ville rose, were warm and cobbled and led from one picturesque spot to the next. I returned home just in time for dinner, fatigued but ready to head out and do some more exploring.