"En Français S'il Vous Plait"

Anna Northenscold
August 29, 2021

*Zip, click, thud!*

That's the sound of my luggage closing. It's all packed and ready to go for my trip. There's only one thing...I don't even leave for another three weeks. I race down the stairs to tell my dad, "I did it, I'm all packed and ready to go." The reaction I see on his face is amusement. "I don't know anyone else who packs this early," he says. I walk back upstairs and lean back on my bed. 

There, in the corner of my room next to my bins labeled “college stuff” sits my red luggage. I will be living out of this box for the next four months. "I'm ready," I think to myself. Little do I know that slowly but surely I will begin to unpack and repack that suitcase four more times before I officially leave for France

I have so many emotions swirling around in my stomach as my departure date nears. Anxiety about traveling alone for the first time to a foreign country, stress from wondering if I have everything I need or if I'm packing too much, sadness because it's senior year of college and all of my friends are moving back on campus without me. Fear because I know that my French fluency should definitely be better than what it is currently and I'm nervous about having to transition to en français, s’il vous plait. The scariest part of this experience for me is the language immersion. In my brain, I know that this semester abroad with IES Abroad Nantes will be one of the biggest things that will stretch and push me to grow as a student and a person. However, in my gut, I can’t help but thinking “what if I’m stuck abroad in a foreign country without being able to speak to anyone beyond ‘where’s the bathroom’ or ‘hello, my name is Anna?’”

If you know me, then you know I love to talk and making new connections with people. Relationships are part of what sustains me and a huge part of what I believe makes us human. That’s why having the ability to communicate with others is such an important thing to me. Moving abroad to parlez en français (speak French) is what will be the most challenging but also rewarding aspect of this experience for me. I am so eager to just get there and be immersed in the culture, the people, the food—even the mundane things like cooking or cleaning. While I’m definitely anxious about the change from English to French, I know there’s going to be this shifting point while I’m abroad when I realize speaking French is just part of normal life. It might be when I’m walking in the centre de Nantes, out with friends, or perhaps just spending time with my host family. Reality is going to hit and I’ll think, I did it. I’m here. Living in France speaking en français.

Our Center Director, Nicolas, was live on our second Zoom orientation when he said something that really hit home. 

“You will all improve immensely in your speaking ability, I have absolutely no doubt.”

At that moment things clicked for me. The people here in this program are rooting for all of us and they believe in us. We have all the tools and access that we will need to become successful en français. The next thing to do is the departure and arrival. Once we land in France, that’s when it all starts. A new chapter in our lives begins and who knows where we’ll be once we make it to the other side. It’s officially 4 days until I leave now. I’ve closed my suitcase for the last time and all that’s left is one flight, a train ride, and a taxi. Then the adventure begins!

Anna Northenscold

<p>Hello Everyone! My name is Anna and I'm a senior at Luther College. I'm studying English and French as a double major. This fall semester, I'm joining the Nantes - French Language Immersion &amp; Area Studies program for three months. I look forward to being able to take you along with me as I set off for this next adventure. I'm hoping to make some good connections, eat lots of food, and learn more about the Nantais while abroad. Some things I like to do in my free time are spending time with family and friends, cooking/baking, finding new places to visit locally or travel to, running and hiking, and having good conversations with new people. I'm a big extrovert so I love doing almost anything as long as it involves other people.</p>

Home university:
Luther College
Hometown:
Minneapolis, MN
Major:
English
French Language
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