Hello! My name is Amanda Carrier. Welcome to my blog! I am a senior at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and I am from Branchburg, New Jersey. I am double-majoring in Political Science and French. Most importantly, however, is the fact that I am leaving North America for the first time in my life in just a few days.
I truly mean it when I say that I can barely fathom that this is actually happening. I realize I am in no means the first student to have their first overseas experience during their study abroad semester, but that does not make this reality any less unimaginable for me.
I decided to include a picture of a rainbow in this post because I think it is a great metaphor for my journey that has led up to this moment. I also just think that it is a spectacular rainbow and I want everyone to see it! I took the picture a few days ago from my balcony in the morning in Lavallette down at the Jersey Shore.
When people use the phrase “end of the rainbow” they also refer to the supposed “pot of gold” that lies there. The point of the expression, however, is that there is no such thing as the end of a rainbow because it is simply a reflection of water droplets in the sky, rather than a tangible object. Thus, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow represents something seemingly unattainable because there is no way to ever get there.
There are several factors that have come into play throughout my life that have made the idea of stepping foot on French soil nothing short of that pot of gold. I never had the opportunity to vacation abroad growing up. I did not mind though because I have always been quite the homebody and introvert. I have lived in the same place my whole life, and I love routine and things that feel familiar.
I have always had anxiety about traveling despite not actually traveling very much at all. I am rather emotionally attached to home and everything that feels like home, such as my family, friends, cats, town, state, and even my college campus now. I honestly believe that I may have chickened out of studying abroad if it were not for the fact that it is a requirement for the French major at my school, which certainly makes receiving my French Long Stay Student Visa in the mail and packing my suitcase feel that much more like I am approaching the end of a rainbow.
Another factor at work is of course the Covid-19 pandemic. I was supposed to study abroad in Nantes, France last fall. I was planning for my abroad semester throughout the early summer days of 2020, but one morning I was greeted with an email notification stating that the program had been cancelled due to low enrollment. Realistically there were a number of roadblocks preventing a Fall 2020 abroad program in France from running, but the low enrollment cemented the verdict that it would not be possible.
Just like that, I had to toss my plans out the window and frantically construct a new fall semester for myself. I had to find housing months after the entire student body had gone through the housing selection process, and email professors asking them to let me into their classes well after course registration day. I even had to get special permission to take my Political Science senior capstone early as a junior because I knew that now I would be going abroad the following fall, and this particular capstone seminar only runs in the fall each year.
Flash forward to 2021, it almost feels as though all of us involved with IES Abroad have been holding our breath every single day in fear that the pandemic is going to take another unexpected turn severe enough to make this fall’s trip to France impossible as well. Luckily that has not happened yet; and I am assuming that we are good to go considering my flight takes off in less than a week at this point.
I do have a fair share of uncertainties and anxieties as I dive headfirst into this semester, especially because at the pool I have always been the type to dip my toes in to feel the water and get used to the temperature before jumping in. This experience is clearly the farthest thing from that. I am not exactly sure how I will grapple with separation from everything that feels like home, and I am a bit scared for how it will impact my time abroad.
Now that the opportunity is finally right in front of me, I am tempted to shy away, but I cannot let my fears and insecurities overpower how excited I am and how long I have wanted to do this for. I need to remember that I have always wanted to go to France. I have dreamed about it since I was little. I am excited about stepping outside of my comfort zone. I know that it is good for me and that I need to step outside my comfort zone more often, especially when it is for experiences that my heart truly desires.
You likely only get such a perfect opportunity to study abroad while in college. I am sure that I would regret it forever if I did not follow through with this upcoming semester in France. I am confident that it is going to be a very enjoyable experience that I will cherish forever. I have faith that I am smart and capable of having a successful trip, as have so many abroad students before me, including plenty who have been just as inexperienced in travel as I am. I can tell from the letter they sent me that my homestay family is going to make me feel welcome and at home, and this thought has been comforting me recently.
All I can say is setting foot on French soil is going to be very surreal, and it sure is going to feel like reaching that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
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<p>My name is Amanda Carrier and I am from Branchburg, New Jersey. I'm a senior at Gettysburg College double majoring in Political Science and French. When I'm on campus, you can often find me at rehearsal with the Sunderman Conservatory Wind Symphony as a percussionist. At home, I love playing with my two cats and going down to the Jersey Shore in the summer!</p>