Well, I think I’ve finally done it. Looking around my room, it seems my affairs are in order. I am as ready to go as I’ll ever be.
When I started my freshman year at Penn State in 2012, I knew studying abroad was one of my priorities. I didn’t know where or when. In fact, I didn’t know a lot of things—that I’d study English literature and minor in French, for instance. But here I am three years later, looking at myself—myriad clothes, beloved iPod, camera, some paperbacks and an unlined journal—stuffed into two black suitcases. Going to Paris, of all places.
The origins of my Francophilia are hard to pin-point. Maybe it sparked the first time I heard Françoise Hardy’s “Les temps de l’amour” play on Suzy’s record player in Moonrise Kingdom. Maybe it started when some of my friends hosted exchange students from Lyon in ninth grade and they arrived—cool, composed and sleekly dressed, even in the height of adolescence. Regardless of how it started, it happened. I plowed through Serge Gainsbourg and Edith Piaf’s discographies; fell in love with multiple Godard films; took literature classes centered on Gertrude Stein’s American expatriate circle. I’ll even don a beret on occasion.
My concept of Paris, though not entirely rose-tinted, sustains a certain warm glow. It is second-hand, fictionalized. Pieced together by the literature, music and film I have consumed over the years. The pop-culture version of Paris, the Ville Lumière, Is it realistic? At times, perhaps, but certainly not on the whole.
I do not know what to expect, but it is a good kind of not knowing. My favorite kind: when I am forced out my comfort zone and have to get by using my wits. When I am faced with a place and a situation entirely new and have to proceed with an open mind. Too easily I fall into the pattern of habit and, as nervous as it makes me, I am excited to see my patterns broken. To force them to break. Instead I will form new ones.
I also look forward to spending more time alone. In my three and a half years at college I have always shared a small living space with a roommate. This has its benefits, but I think that I think best in solitude. With fewer interruptions and more silence. I intend to begin working on my thesis this semester, which will require a good deal of reading and writing.
All the same, I hope to make new friends.
I think a lot of things are possible for me this semester and I certainly intend to go with the flow.
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<p>Haley is currently a student from Penn State University working towards a degree in English and a minor in French Studies. She loves reading, coffee, dancing to live music and exploring new places but she also enjoys biking, face painting and being out doors. Haley's dream job is travel writing.</p>