I’ve been in France for just about a week, and I already have so many thoughts to share! But for my first post, I wanted to flash back to about 2 months before leaving for this journey. After all, I wouldn’t be here without hours of preparation.
I booked my plane ticket to Nantes last night, and study abroad is officially feeling real! Leading up to this, I would tell people I was studying abroad, followed by a “hopefully” or a “if I decide to commit.” This was driven in part by the uncertainty caused by Covid but also by my hesitance to leave behind the familiar world of my friends, family, and university for a semester.
But now I am committed. For real. It’s happening.
At this moment, I am a mixture of exactly 50% nerves and 50% anticipation. I keep thinking that everything is going to be so much more complicated than it actually is. My visa appointment describes this phenomenon very well. I had heard from other friends who were studying abroad that it was really difficult to get their visas, so, naturally, I was terrified leading up to my appointment. After securing a time slot in Chicago (luckily I go to school in Chicago so I didn’t need to travel out of my way since there are only ten locations in the U.S. to get your French visa), I fervently gathered all of my documents together, making multiple copies of every single one, not wanting to risk the possibility of losing one on the train ride.
I finally arrived at my visa appointment an hour and a half early because I was a little too conservative with my time estimate of getting downtown. Luckily, it was a nice day, and I got a lot of steps in pacing around outside. But once I finally entered my visa appointment after all of my preparation, it was so easy and really simple. I had all the necessary documents (which is good because the girl before me didn’t have her passport which is probably the most essential document), and it was over in less than half an hour. An assortment of things I learned in my visa appointment: my visa officer grew up down the street from me, there are absolutely no phones allowed in the visa waiting room, you have to have your fingerprints taken for your visa but they don’t use ink anymore—they just scan them which is not as fun if you ask me.
I’m hoping that the rest of study abroad will be like this: lots of nerves for nothing. Ideally, I would just be less anxious, but I think that nerves are just a natural part of this experience entering into a completely new situation. I’m hoping to challenge myself abroad despite my worries because I know that in the end I’m going to come out of this experience more confident in my knowledge, my language skills, and myself.
I hoped you enjoyed that look into my pre-travel jitters. I’m looking forward to sharing more with you throughout the semester!
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Hi, my name is Eleanor! I am majoring in French and Psychology, and I am so excited to be participating in the Nantes immersion program in order to improve my language skills and immerse myself in French culture. I love to read, cook/bake, and spend time outdoors. I can't wait to share my experience with all of you!