Sunday, May 18, 2014

Studying Abroad: A Parent's Dream ... A Parent's Nightmare

My brilliant and beautiful daughter, Emily, decided to spend the second semester of her sophomore year studying abroad in France.  She is currently on her way home (most recent text was "Wow Heathrow sucks"), and I cannot wait to see her.

Yeah, she's kind of amazing ...

One of her majors (yeah, she's one of those) requires a semester abroad, and since her other major is French, it was only logical for her to go to France.  She has been in Aix-en-Provence since the end of January.

She has also traveled extensively while there, from Krakow to Dublin, from Prague to Paris, and many other places as well.  She has gained an education through the culture and historical sites that I'm sure mattered far more to her than her university classes (Jeff was psyched when she posted a pic of Camus' headstone since it meant she knew who Camus was).

She went to Auschwitz, and it hit her very hard.  I mean, you can read about the Holocaust, but to actually see where these terrible and evil things took place ... shiver.

She's had some of your standard adventures.

For example, she got sick and didn't know how to handle it (she has pretty significant asthma).  I told her there must be doctors in France, but she was just overwhelmed about the process. She figured it out eventually, though.  She sent me this pic and said, "One is an antibiotic and one is an inhaler, but that's ALL I know."


There was some drama with the prepaid credit card her father sent.  And/or her bank card working.  She was having card issues, and it's very hard to help when you're so far away.

Then there's the stuff that you don't really want to know.

The text that says, "So I just swam topless in the Mediterranean."  A disturbing lack of specifics regarding the handsome young man that is in many of her Facebook pics.  The fact that she stayed in a hostel and had bizarre encounters there with a middle-aged man named Peaches.

The fact that alcohol unquestionably fueled much of her time ...

When she sent pics like this, I missed her so much that I cried (evidently peanut butter is a rare commodity in France)

So the bottom line is that Emily had an experience that she will remember for the rest of her life.  I do not know many details, although I cannot wait to spend time Monday hearing stories, looking at pictures, and hugging her a lot.

I am aware, very well aware, that there are some stories I will not hear.  I'm okay with that.  You don't go to a different country as a beautiful 19-year-old and not have some stories.

You know the funny thing?  I think Em and I have gotten closer while she was so far away (and we were pretty close to begin with).

She had a few rough moments that necessitated hourlong text sessions that happened in the middle of the night here, when I was awake nursing Gabby. We would both text if we saw something of interest to each other. We got to FaceTime a bit (but I hate FaceTime because I hate my face, so it was minimal).

Bottom line? This was an amazing experience for Emily, and a humbling one for me as I realize that my little baby girl is really and truly grown up.  She can navigate foreign countries ... does that mean that I can nag her for leaving half-empty cups all over the house?

If you are reading this, Cookie (and I know you usually do), please don't tell me the things I don't need to know (I'm pretty sure they can't be worse than what my imagination has created), but please know that I am so looking forward to hearing about your adventures.

Oh, and it's true that absence makes the heart grow fonder.