Final thoughts are usually something of a mixed feeling for me. Even the name itself just pushes you to face all the preparation, all the hidden fears and excitements of living a life elsewhere for half a year and all the amazing memories that have come out of it is about to end. Usually I would find myself in a state of blankness, that really horrible feeling of dread and knowing that at least for the next little while, I will leave behind adventure for the mundane monotony of home.
But in actual fact, that was not how I felt leaving Montreal. Of course I would miss everybody that I have met and had a great connection to without a doubt, and I appreciate that the time and experiences I had were unique and special. But somehow the things I learnt about myself, about how to progress with my life and how to think about things from a different perspective made me particularly excited to come home. And nobody is more surprised about that revelation than I am. It’s like what they say, you never really find the things you look for until you stop looking. And I wasn’t prepared to find this newfound appreciation not just for the world outside of my own country and the lovely things that comes with it, but of it instead. I didn’t even realise I had missed New Zealand that much until I could not stop smiling landing back from a long journey and savouring the sunlight instead of the snow. There are too many new ways of changing my lifestyle and mindset to better ones that ultimately I appreciated the experience for what it was: As a big learning curve that ultimately gave me exactly what I needed at this point in my life.
It’s only fitting that this last post should be a visual highlight reel of my experience in Montreal, and along with the various posts I as well as my fellow exchange students have done over the past half year, hope that it inspires even just a few of you to take the plunge. These snapshots what words can’t capture, only that the feeling after having achieved and experienced all of this makes me feel very lucky and extremely grateful. It can be scary, intense and at some points no matter if it’s organising it of simply living it. But in all honesty, nothing could make your university life more memorable. In twenty years, it won’t matter as much what grade you got in which paper. That won’t be the conversation starter when you have work events, family gatherings or social reunions. But for me, the special times like watching my first ice hockey game, or hiking in sea of golden leaves during a storm, or having a white Christmas on top of a mountain… Those I will share time and time again with fondness and happiness.
Thank you to everyone who supported the content; Giving a glimpse of my adventure was such a creative outlet to share those incredible moments and I enjoyed it every step of the way. And as cliché as it may sound, it cannot compare to actually living it. Don’t believe me? I dare you to give it a try.
Keep up to date with my adventures through Instagram (shirleyxjiang) and my personal travel blog (http://pageparisienne.blogspot.ca/)