I’ve been awake since 6am because I couldn’t sleep, so forgive me if this post lacks coherency. Anyways, in a lot of ways, graduation reminds me of the end of my year abroad. Both experiences just felt so surreal—and still do—because they were definitive epilogues to different chapters in my life. Granted, I spent three years at R-MC versus one year in Nice, but I honestly don’t understand where the time went. Am I really free of school forever? (Hush, ignore the fact that I might go to grad school.) I have, however, left behind a place that indelibly marked my life and helped shape who I am today, much like Nice did.
Parts of both experiences also passed in a blur. With regards to France, I barely remember saying goodbye to my classmates, running across airports, and climbing into planes. And today, the whole getting-my-diploma has blended together into a haze—according to one professor and two friends, I had a cheering squad, but I noticed absolutely nothing because I panicked a bit and thought, “There are too many people watching me I have to get off this stage right now.” (I did, however, succeed in not tripping!)
Plus, when I finally got home after France, I was sleep-deprived and exhausted, yet oddly awake, which is a perfect description of my mental state right now. Though funnily enough, I didn’t start crying until the plane landed in Richmond, because I guess that’s when the fact that I’d left behind a lifetime of memories in Nice finally hit home. But I haven’t really cried yet after graduation, and in all honesty—despite having cried ten times before graduation about having to leave my friends and professors—I think it’s because the fact that I’m forever done with undergrad hasn’t quite sunk in yet.
That’s where the parallels end, though. Firstly, when I left Nice, there was no pomp and ceremony because I was brain-dead from seven straight hours of exams—and then I had to finish packing and leave bright and early the next morning. Secondly, in France, I didn’t have six professors who made me blush and internally scream in distress, “I HAVE TO LEAVE RIGHT NOW IMMEDIATELY” when they casually showed me off to my mom. (I’m an adult. I can handle compliments with grace.)
(As I’m typing this post, three of my friends are telling—no, yelling at—me to email one of my favorite English professors a picture of us and call the poor, innocent guy “dope.” That’s the final difference—my friends in France weren’t such terrible influences.)