Well, it would appear as though my study abroad in France has come to an end. After spending a month in Vichy (which you can read about in my last post), I had the extreme good fortune to get to spend my last day in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Paris. However, if one day taught me anything, it’s that I could spend a lifetime in Paris and still find something new every day. Every street is full of beauty and history, and every nook and cranny hides secrets of the past. I spent the majority of my day on l’île de la cité, and I was just dumbfounded by just how old many of those buildings were. Hundreds and hundreds of years had passed since the construction of those giant structures, but still they stand tall and proud. As I walked through Paris, marveling at the buildings, enjoying the culture, and trying my best to absorb and remember everything I could, I couldn’t help but think just how different it all was from back home. I grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, a historic city from an American perspective, but the story of my city is no more than 200 years old. It’s a divisive city, built on controversy and difference, and even today those roots linger. We have no giant cathedrals or palaces. We have no Arc de Triompfe or Eiffel Tower. But we have the first White House of the Confederacy, and the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, too. And at the end of the day, I realized something important. The US and Europe are similar, but also different. Very different. I love France for what makes it special and unique. I love its culture and history. I even loved meeting its people. But I also love Alabama, and Oklahoma, and the rest of the US. I think that’s what I gained from my day in Paris. A new perspective, and a better appreciation of where I’m from and where I might be going.