I cannot recall how many times I listened to “Princess of China” by Coldplay and Rihanna in my room in Clermont-Ferrand, France. I would come back to the room after a day in Norman’s sister city, sit on my bed, and start playing the song on my iPad. I would quietly sing along to the Chris Martin part, then take it up a notch for the Rihanna part, picturing the exotic cinematography of the music video.
I listen to it now that I’m home, and the only thing I picture is my small dorm room in Clermont-Ferrand.
I was in France, a country with its own culture, music, food, language, and yet the only thing I craved was Coldplay. I am not even big Coldplay fan. But at that time, it was a big piece of home, in my small room abroad. I think I listened to the song every night, picturing the same music video, mentally adding in scenes for ones I did not remember.
I listen to it now that I’m home, and the only thing I picture is my small dorm room in Clermont-Ferrand. My red suitcase on the ground touching my feet, revealing a pile of what was once a pile of organized clothes. There is a bag of “Poulet Roti” chips on a little shelf that extends from the desk where a box of Kinder Eggs lies next to the open window. There are some brochures and maps in French on my bed. The faint aroma of a bread, cheese, and aged wine is on my shirt. Then the song ends, and I see my backyard.
Study abroad trips certainly go through phases—culture shock, honeymoon, homesickness, and others, not necessarily in that order. And every study abroad student has their own fair amount of unique experiences. But what are these strange Coldplay-moments we bring back? Memories? Jet lag? Longing for a place that was once foreign, but became home after three weeks? I don’t know, but I’ll think about it after this Rihanna and Chris Martin verse.