Checking Everything Off: Even Some Nerves - Now Off to France!

Kira Patton
August 21, 2021
My passport in front of Parisian apartments

I thought I overcame procrastination—until it came to packing

Preparing for my time abroad in France is very exciting, as well as slightly chaotic. I have been completing little tasks that I need to get done before I leave: calling my bank account to let them know I will be abroad, see if they have partner banks in France, contacting my cellular service to see if my phone is unlocked for a French SIM card, and much more. It is quite satisfying to check off these tasks, because it means I’m that much closer and prepared for my new adventure. 

The entire study abroad process so far, I feel like I have been pretty on top of everything, in fact I surprisingly was “ahead.” The minute I got my acceptance to the IES Abroad Nantes program, I completed the tasks in the portal. When I got my email about the Visa process, I completed the necessary forms promptly, and scheduled the visa appointment early to ensure I had plenty of time before I left. My IES Abroad advisor really emphasized starting the Visa process early, and I think that’s the name of the game this summer. The extra time I had suddenly seemed to catch up to me, and next thing I know it is only a couple of weeks until I leave.

A week before I left, I ended my work commitments so I could have time to relax (haha even though I’ve been doing that all summer), see friends and family, and pack. Although I initially thought this would be WAY too much time, that is not the case. Time was flying by. After many inputs from other students in my program, as well as my family; I decided to bring my school backpack and a checked bag. I was a bit worried about this not being enough, but I was told that overpacking is very common. Also, I wanted to be easily mobile in France. I want to make sure my feet are tired because I walk all day looking at the sights instead of lugging my baggage. 

Early on in the packing process we were instructed to bring all of our medications with us, and not plan on shipping it. Trying to listen to this wise advice, I decided to order my nine month contact lenses three and a half weeks before I left. I thought this was plenty of time to have them shipped to me, and I even gave an extra week just in case. However, my departure was quickly approaching and I still hadn’t received my contacts. After calling my eye doctor I got news that they were on backorder, and the response I got when I asked if the woman thought they would be in by the time I left was a “I hope so.” That made me laugh with nerves but also in a "what can you do" mentality. 

I was a bit nervous because I am pretty blind without contacts, and of course I let my eyeglasses prescription expire for a couple of years. But I also had the mentality that I would figure something out if the contacts did not come in time. I surprisingly got my contacts a couple days before I left, and all was well. The lesson I guess I learned with packing and the pre-departure experience for study abroad in general is that you can never start too early to get things in order. The mini packing hiccup eventually got figured out, but just breathing and trying to relax when things go wrong is an approach I will bring with me when I am abroad. 

Orientation: A Confidence Booster

I think it’s pretty common to be nervous before going abroad. I certainly felt a mix of excitement, more gratitude with family and friends, and nerves. I love traveling, and I have had amazing experiences with living with friend’s families for multiple weeks (I know it’s different being with a family for many months, but I feel more comforted). My program is full immersion which excites me because I will be speaking French constantly and I feel like I can really improve, as well as more nerve racking. During the start of my French classes every year I always have some nerves about my level of French. Will I be totally clueless about what the professor says? Is this level right for me, or am I way over my head? So of course, these thoughts were lingering in anticipation for my academic time abroad.

The first online orientation gave a great platform for everyone in the program to introduce themselves, share their excitement and nerves, as well as exchange contact information. The friendly and excited notes people left made me excited to meet everyone, and the similar reasons people were nervous about going abroad made me relax knowing I was not alone. 

As a result of this interaction, we created a group chat and exchanged questions and thoughts ranging from packing and French cellular plans to French playlists. What a great way to bond! Lastly, the one hour introduction to the IES Abroad Nantes staff, and listening to them introduce us to Nantes and the academics all in French calmed my worries because I did not feel lost. In fact, leaving that first meeting made me even more excited and confident that I made the right program choice. 

Through all of these emotions I am feeling as I am saying au revoir, the most prominent feeling I have is excitement. I don't know what to fully expect, but regardless I know I am ready emotionally and physically (yay I can see!) to take on this new adventure abroad.

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Kira Patton

<p>Bonjour! My name is Kira, and I am from Boulder, Colorado. I am currently a junior at University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. I am double majoring in International Political Economy and French, and minoring in Studio Art. I don’t know how I will use my degree yet, but I am hopeful I will learn more about myself through study abroad. I love traveling and learning about new cultures through experiences, stories, and food (mmm pasta). In my free time, I enjoy seeing friends, swimming, snowboarding, doing something creative, and watching Outlander and FRIENDS. (: I look forward to sharing my time abroad in France with you.</p>

Home university:
University of Puget Sound
Hometown:
Boulder, CO
Major:
French Language
International Political Econ
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