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Coming back from a road trip, what happens a year after ?

2 May 2016
Road trip come back

Opening a new article. Blank page. Killer question. Few moments to mediate. And here we go… Few days ago, Facebook nicely reminded me that it was now a year ago that I left for this amazing road on the US West coast. Yes, on April 20th 2015, I was flying to Los Angeles to start a month of great discoveries. Truth be told, the adventure already started a bit earlier, when I got to Canada with my two suitcases, my exhaustion from the 6-month internship and a 10-hour journey, and the desire to make the most of this unique semester. But the fact remains that I am very well back in France for a year now, and life is simply taking its course ! But deep down, what happens when we come home ?

» The nostalgia chronicle.

Come back D-day. Sadness and excitement. Being back at Victoria Airport, like the first day, is quite the shock. But well, in the end, planes are coming one after another and you think about something else. Then, during the Atlantic crossing, you think about how good you were back there, on holidays, enjoying the sun, bragging about it on social networks, not thinking about tomorrow. But all good things come to an end, and this return also means seeing family and friends again. After 3 movies and 2 meals, we are landing. And they are here : my dad, my mum, my brother, my sister. Even if I am called cold-hearted sometimes, I am definitely excited about seeing them ! 6 months, it is actually quite long. We are spending the weekend together, I am telling them my stories, they baked all my favorite meals.

Come back D+2. Crying out loud. On Monday, I am alone at home (some of us are working and/or studying !). I cannot unpack my suitcase, tell myself that I am back, that I am going to work next week. And I have to admit that I am crying all day long. But that is also because the jetlag prevents me from sleeping, I am exhausted. Truth be told, I do not even know why I am crying. Because deep down, I am really excited about seeing my family and my friends. Come back D+11. One Parisian hell. I am moving to Paris, at my grand-parents’ thank God. I am going back to the office, and even though I really liked my previous experience as an intern in this company, I have a hard time keeping up with the rhythm and staying focused. My spirit is wandering here and there. Hard to go from the endlessness of national parks to the hubbub of the Parisian subway, I forgot how oppressive it is. Come back D+23. The nonchalance. I am starting to get used to the capital again, work is also getting better and better but I am still not 100% efficient. I cannot manage to open my pictures, it is still too fresh. I love talking about my trips but the questions are starting to sound alike and I say the same thing over and over again. Is it annoying or am I in a bad mood ? Probably both !

Coming back from a road trip

Come back D+36. Nice weather is back. With everything that entails ! I remember why I love my job, enjoy having a drink outside, see a lot of friends. The sun begins to show up, and not half-way this summer; and that is nice. We are inside the whole day, but in the evening, it is almost like we are on holidays. I even plan a trip to Alsace, these few weeks felt really long, I missed my family ! Come back D+63. Getaway to Strasbourg. I am glad to come back home just for the weekend, I am less tired than last time and enjoy being with my close family and friends. We even organize a picture slide show for which I selected and edited all my photos. The slide show is actually 3-hour long, I comment each picture with enthusiasm. In English, in French, all the memories are coming back and I am happy to share few of these moments with my family. I hope they have not drown in all my talking ! I am realizing that it was quite the experience and that I lived these 5 months intensely, and more particularly those few weeks spent on the road.

Come back D+133. Writing to remember. I have to choose a blog topic for a school project. I do not have to think very long, it is all set already, I will talk about my road trip on the US West coast. I am starting off slow, but then get in the game. I am starting to think that this will probably make me sad more than anything else… but in the end, I am glad to share my stories, to get back to my pictures and to write (I even have a hard time stoping myself sometimes as you would have noticed). As I am going along the articles, I realize that we have done a lot of things and do not regret anything. Come back D+216. Time for an evaluation. January 1st, I am dwelling on the year that went by quickly. What a year ! I went on exchange, I traveled. And even though I am back, it was not all for nothing since I have worked and done the last semester of my master degree ! (Fingers crossed for the validation haha) So finally, the sadness and the languor state are turning into nostalgia, but a positive one. I simply remember all the good moments with emotion, having a smile on my face.

Come back D+326. Today. A year ago, I was flying to Los Angeles to start a month of wonderful discoveries. April 20th, time flies so quickly. But now, I am not really sad anymore. I am proud and happy to have lived this experience, to have met all these folks and taken on this road trip. It pleases me to share everything with you guys, and remind me all the good memories on a daily basis. But always with a smile on my face.

» Being always on the move. Everywhere. All the time.

I think that one of the most frequent and striking symptoms is to wish to travel aaaaaall the time ! I was traveling a bit before, it was not all new for me but it usually was not on that scale – that long and that far ! When you come back from a road trip, you simply wonder how it is even possible to go back to a settled life (and I mean a settled life with a move every 4 months !) and not to be amazed by great places every day. But well, you cannot be on vacation all the time, so I took on some small habits to keep my head in the clouds when I was waking up. Every morning, I would look at blogs to sort of live their author’s travels by going through articles and pictures. I would also launch some more or less crazy researches on Kayak to look at flights (but without the bank account going with it, I never clicked on “book”). Lisbon, Reykjavík, Sydney. Lima, New York, Manille. Whatever, but I was already picturing myself spending a weekend there or going back on a road trip.

Come back road trip

And then two things happen. Tic tac. The first one is that you realize that you can easily find things to discover all around you. On the other side of the world or just out of your door. So why not simply go discovering the city you live in ? I spent the summer in Paris coming back from Canada, and after a few low days, I realized that it was in my hands to see some people, visit the capital. So I went walking around, seeing exhibitions, I saw my friends again – it was great ! Being on the move can then be in your own environment – and simply mean going out for after-work drinks with some friends, chilling in a park or wandering in the city by foot. Of course, you will be super late in all your TV shows, but that is the price to pay haha The second aspect is that you are reevaluating the distances ! Well, I think it is even more true after a visit in the US, where places are gigantic and road endless. But think about it, if you can do 500 kilometers per day during the road trip… what prevents you from going on a city-trip in Europe over a weekend ? After replenishing my account, I managed to go on a few trips over the past few months : Maastricht, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Prague. In the end, the travel thirst can be quenched very quickly, right ? Well, that is before the next big adventure ! We will see when the occasion presents itself 🙂

» What about the human aspect in all that ?

We are never going to say it enough, but exchange time is all about a great human adventure ! It is a bit cliché, but still so true… And it could not have gone better for me ! The fact of being abroad definitely gets people together and we had a great exchange students group, with whom we surely enjoyed our life in Victoria. But among all these people, some left a bigger mark than others and I have forged real friendship links with a closer circle – as you would have guessed, it obviously includes friends with whom I went on a road trip ! We were sticking to one another during these few months in Canada, and then were kind of attached to the hip (not always by choice haha) during the final journey. Because of that, it was kind of strange that we simply all went back to our respective before-exchange lives, all over Europe. I also was afraid that this magic experience would only be fleeting… But with (lots of) Snapchats, (a bit of) Whatsapp and a few postcards (yes, I like old-school stuff, though some may not like it !), we manage to keep in touch. Well, of course, it works with some better than others… But what actually counts are the moments we see each other in flesh and blood !

Road trip friends

And there were a few : Stefan and Antwan in Maastricht, Marijke in Amsterdam and soon Strasbourg, Karolina in Paris. More recently, we (almost) all gathered in Prague for an exchange reunion ! Organization matters had to be taken in hand a bit… but it was a great trip (despite the fact that it was way way way too short). It was like we never left each other’s side, although I had not seen some of them for a whole year. Even though we do not see each other often (we will still try to find a solution to that problem), the exchange and the road trip have brought us closer together, and we will not be scared by a few hundred kilometers getting in the way of our friendship. These folks are the perfect travel buddies (love love) and I hope we will have the opportunity to discover new destinations together (a little birdie told me that Vienna is on the short list) ! But I do not doubt that, because I know that this crazy experience in Canada and in the US bounds us together for a long time. We painted the town red together and now all have our own life here and there, but the moments we meet are filled with emotion an nice memories. And that is what counts !

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