Donald McLean
June 6, 2013

For my senior quote in high school, I quoted the first line of Charles Dickens’s novel David Copperfield: “Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.” I still think that I chose a great quote, because it encapsulates two things I hold dear: writing and self-discovery. I consider myself beyond lucky that I get to explore both of these things this summer in Arles.

I’ve talked to quite a few people who have been happy to prepare me for this trip in any way that they can, with advice ranging from “read the newspapers” to “get ready for everything to be super expensive.” However, I get the creeping suspicion that no amount of anecdotes can prepare me for what’s about to happen. To be perfectly honest, I’m trying to go in with as few expectations as possible beyond the little cultural ticks I need to know (for example, I’ve been told to always greet a cashier with a bonjour and part with a bonne journée, else you’ve essentially given them permission to give you lackluster service); I use that trick on books, and I tend to enjoy those books more than the ones I start reading with such-and-such expectations. It’s impossible to go to a foreign country without some kind of expectation, I know, but I’m hoping to be wowed from the moment I fly into Paris to the day I leave for the States.

In either case, heading in with expectations or not, I am beyond excited to be participating in his experience. Studying abroad has been a dream of mine for a long time, and the French language and culture have fascinated me since I started taking languages courses when I was fourteen years old.

This trip will also be a trip of many firsts for me: my first time out of the country, my first flight, and my first time going somewhere where I know literally no one beforehand among others that I’m sure I’m forgetting. My only regret is that I won’t be able to visit la maison de Victor Hugo on Barricade Day, because, you know…

Image from Associated Press

Well, here I am, with just under two weeks before I leave for Paris. I’ll spend a couple of days there, be a tourist, and then catch a train down to Arles for the next six weeks. So, until my next post, Vive la France et allons-y!

Not to mention, going to France will be a nice alternative to studying for the LSAT that I’ll be taking just a few short days before my flight. Here’s to it.

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Donald McLean

<div><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">My name is Miller McLean, and I am a rising senior majoring in English and French while minoring in German at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I grew up in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, but have always wanted to get out and see the world. At school, I am involved in the German Club, the Culture Committee, and the pre-law organization Phi Alpha Delta. In my free time, I like to read, write, and play music. Since beginning my French studies in high school, I have taken an interest in foreign languages and cultures, and I hope that my stay in Arles will help expand my world view and improve my knowledge of French. I look forward to the challenges and opportunities that France will offer me, and I hope you enjoy my posts about my journey!</span></div>

2013 Summer 1, 2013 Summer 2
Home University:
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
French Language
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