A Healthy Mixture of Excitement and Anxiety: Preparing to Leave for France

Joseph Kalmar
January 5, 2020

In my experience, adult life (or at least college life) is generally characterized by constant fluctuation between feeling calm and prepared and feeling completely panicked. I was more on the “panicked” side of that spectrum when I initially tried to write this blog post, but after waiting a couple of days I feel more prepared than not. This is mostly due to the fact that the worst has already come to pass for the planning stage of my trip: my train from Paris to Nantes has been cancelled due to the strikes in Paris, and there is a good chance that the three-month supply of my most important medication will likely not arrive at my house in time for me to bring it with me. So instead of worrying about those things possibly happening, I’ve been able to take action by making new travel plans and mentally preparing myself to see a doctor in France sooner rather than later. Plus, the bright side of having to buy a new train ticket is that I was able to upgrade to first class for less money than my original second class ticket, allowing me to get a window seat on the second level (!!!) of the train.

Despite those issues and a certain level of apprehension about my ability to sleep on a plane, I’m mostly just excited that more than a year’s worth of planning is finally coming to fruition. I’m more than thrilled with my housing assignment, as I’ll be with a host family that has not only a cat, which is practically a necessity for me, but also an indoor pool as a very fun bonus. I’ll probably take at least three courses with IES, but I’m mainly hoping to take a translation class and an archaeology class of some kind at the Université de Nantes.

The main focus of most of my pre-departure research has been the best restaurants and markets in Nantes and how to travel inexpensively, efficiently, and safely in Europe. I’m a huge fan of basically anything related to cheese, bread, or fresh fruit, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how the food in France differs from that in the United States; I am, however, bringing some American food (i.e. peanut butter and a couple varieties of candy) for myself and as part of a thank you gift to my host family.

I only have one trip concretely planned so far for when my mom comes to visit me during her spring break, but I would love to spend one of my week-long breaks in Scotland and the other exploring other parts of Europe with a friend from college who’s in the same program as me. As for travelling with my mom, I come from a very Disney-oriented family, so my mom will be fighting off jet lag at Disneyland Paris (of her own volition) during her first two days in France.

Other than recounting my travel worries and plans I don’t have a lot of interesting stories to tell yet, but I’m sure that will definitely no longer be the case in a few days when I’ve arrived in Nantes and settled in with my host family.

Joseph Kalmar

<p>I'm a sophomore in college who has studied French for over seven years. In addition to reading, singing, and playing various musical instruments, I'm an avid fan of birdwatching, watching hockey, and traveling.</p>

2020 Spring
Home University:
College of Wooster, The
Bowling Green, OH
French Language
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