Go Big or…

Jonathan Woodrow
January 21, 2014

18 January 2014

And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past
- F. Scott Fitzgerald

Even though this line marked the end of The Great Gatsby, I find myself thinking of its relevance on the eve of my departure to Paris. And then by some strange process of osmosis, the characters of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald in the film Midnight in Paris (2011) come to mind. It’s funny how our brains work.

The quote hits home because I am at one of those times in my life where I never thought I would be this old. My mother has always spoken so fondly of the year she spent studying in French-speaking Switzerland. The family she lived with while there has remained close to ours even across three decades and a formidably large pond. All three of her host family’s sons have lived with our family at various points over the years: two for summers and one for a whole school year. So I suppose I was raised with the spirit of study abroad a big part of my life, and I find myself pondering the meaning of a time for me that is somewhere in between past, present, and future. Recently turned 21 and preparing for my own study abroad experience, it feels as though it is coming full-circle, but I know that I am merely at a new point along a much larger circle. I guess the ‘it’ that is coming full-circle refers to study abroad, but that phrase has a larger significance for me.

While I enjoyed growing up with the experience of my mother’s relationships from study abroad, I am excited to pursue my experience on my own terms. And despite the joy my mother gained from her experience with a host family, I have chosen not to live with a host family. In fact, I am living in housing independent of IES. It took several conversations over a period of months for my mother to realize that something she viewed as an integral part of her experience was not the right fit for me. We will see how it works out.

As a varsity football player at Amherst College, it is important to mirror the off-season training I am missing at school as closely as possible while in Paris. Part of this is making sure I get plenty of calories, which I do not foresee being a problem. What will be more interesting is my impending search for a training facility that meets my needs. Online efforts thus far have not yielded promising results.

The opportunity to study abroad while also playing college football was a big factor in my college search. It is encouraged at Amherst, but with the understanding that players do not return with half of their original muscle mass and a newfound desire to play the other kind of futbol. Three of my teammates, including two of my roommates, will also be studying in Europe this semester, all in different cities. I think I will benefit from being on a program without any close friends, while also having couches to crash on when I travel.

From roaring in the stands of a major soccer match to sipping a coffee and watching the world go by, I am looking forward most to diving head first into Parisian culture. It is also exciting to know that I will have the opportunity and flexibility to travel all over Europe, even if just for a few short months.

Maybe I will figure out the whole meaning of life thing while solemnly wandering the streets of Paris. All I can say now is that a million emotions are running through me and the typical Rochambeau of packing for a long voyage is about to commence.

More Blogs From This Author

View All Blogs

Jonathan Woodrow

<p><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 Jonathan Woodrow and I am a student at Amherst College on the varsity football team originally from snowy Aspen, CO. At Amherst, I am majoring in History and French and my interests include sports (particularly skiing and golf) and current events. I hope to provide interesting and entertaining insights on my experience this Spring.</span></p>

2014 Spring
Home University:
Amherst College
French Language
Explore Blogs