Since getting home from my junior fall semester at Tufts University last week, I have slowly been moving various objects of clothing through different bags in my room. One, which I will take to Nantes in less than a week, is usually placed on my bed every morning and moved back to the floor every night so I can navigate the cluttered mess that is my bedroom. This is full of all sorts of things I have been told I will 'need' in France, and well as a few I definitely won't need but am determined to fit anyway. These include an extra six months of contact lenses, a half-gallon of maple syrup from my home state of Vermont for my homestay mother in Nantes, items of clothing that I think will be in season (along with lots of outerwear in case they're not), and my hiking boots in case I accidentally find myself in the Alps at any point. Outside of the suitcase is another bag, typically reserved for laundry at school, which has items from school that I won't be taking, including several sweaters I've been told have 'too many holes' to wear in France and a copy of 'A Year in Provence', the book which peaked my interest for studying in France in the first place. The slow process of choosing what to bring and what to leave behind had been an interesting way to picture Nantes through picturing myself freezing in a small jacket on the streets or wishing I had packed an extra sports bra but has helped me conceptualize the fact that I'm actually going. In less than a week. That part still hasn't really sunk in yet. Anyway, I've been trying to pack the 'Nantes' bag with a little bit of everything so I won't accidentally leave behind all my socks but also leave room for the little items I will inevitably find abroad and want to bring home.
Today is the second to last day at home, it’s snowing like crazy outside, and the thermometer outside is currently sitting at -10* F, so I’m planning to spend it all catching up on final travel details that might have slipped through the cracks. The average temperature in Nantes for January is 42*, which is going to feel like a heat wave after the last few weeks, and it's nice to know I may be able to walk up and down streets without risking frostbite. I’ve been trying to write a bucket list but keep landing on the fact that I have no idea what I’m getting myself into and want to keep an open mind, so my current list looks something like:
1. Be bold
2. Say yes to everything
3. Never turn down a pastry (related to 2, but needs its own separate category)
4. Cook with my host mom
5. Try to immerse myself in the language as completely as possible
I’m feeling so grateful and fortunate to have this opportunity, and I can’t wait to see how my expectations, language skills, and taste buds shift over the course of the next three months. Allons-y!