I have taken six years of French, and I’ve never been to France, or Europe for that matter. The only international travel experience I am currently equipped with is a highly supervised service trip to the Dominican Republic I participated in over three years ago. As much as I loved it, I’m searching for something a little different when I arrive in Paris.
I am a born and raised Seattleite who loves the rain, so I’m hoping for a lot of Parisian showers during my three month stay. For the past couple weeks, I’ve been running around Seattle trying to tie up loose ends before leaving the country on my own for the first time. Some errands have been fun, like purchasing stylish sneakers that will also support my feet during the miles of walking I will inevitably rack up while site seeing. Other to-dos haven’t been as fun, like renewing my driver’s license at the Department of Licensing, or applying for a new debit card, as my old one will expire while I’m abroad.
I also had to take a redeye flight to the IES Abroad headquarters in Chicago in order to get my French visa in time. However, the staff at IES Abroad made the visit worth it with their hospitality and willingness to help. I felt better knowing they were the people on the other side, organizing this experience for me.
The key element to all the tasks I’ve accomplished before my departure is completing them ahead of time. When I did put checklist items off until the last minute, they proved to be much harder to tackle at a later date than they would have been had I finished them when they first came my way.
Being prepared relaxes me. I feel better knowing what to expect out of any upcoming undertaking. This has proven to be challenging as I embark on my study abroad journey. I know the basics, but I will need to expect the unexpected as I navigate a city that is completely unknown to me. I will be sharing an apartment near the Eiffel Tower with a current friend from my home school, Santa Clara University, and two (hopefully!) new friends from colleges across the country.
Although going into a situation without having my bearings will prove to be a test for me, I am beyond excited to launch into this opportunity, even if it means being a little spontaneous.