Hello Everyone. My name is Miah Chu Won Tapper. I am a French major with little plans for the future and, at the same time, loads of anticipation. A year ago, when I first started going through the study abroad process, all my efforts were shadowed by the almost certain knowledge that, I shouldn’t get too excited,it’s most definitely not going to happen, after all. Only a small voice inside of me kept pushing me to keep working, by whispering of all the amazing things that would come: "If by some miracle all the stars align, I get into the program, I get enough financial aid, and I manage to not make a single spelling error on all the visa documentation…
Well, the stars have aligned. I’ve not only gotten into the program, but I’m an IES Abroad Correspondent. I’ve received my visa, and finally, I’ve begun to allow myself to get truly excited. A year has gone past since I started this whole thing, and now that the preparation is complete… the adventure is just about to get started. And I can’t wait.
Now, however, with my job done for the summer, waiting is all there is left to do. This has turned out to be a good thing. After almost a year of believing that this France adventure wasn’t going to happen, it turns out I have very little planned for what to do with the adventure, and how to go about adventuring. During the wickedly painful interim that I’ve found myself in, I’ve let myself begin to think about what my whole academic year abroad is going to mean for my future, as well as my past.
Anxieties, Curiosities, and Memories
Most immediate in my thoughts are my fears for my coming reality in France: the difficult process of integrating myself into a French family and coming to know a foreign culture for the first time. I know how to face these fears, though. I’ve faced them before—when I moved into a college I had never before visited to live with a roommate I had never met. Granted, that was without the language barrier. However, I believe the remedying philosophy is close to the same: curiosity. Curiosity has been the basis of my drive to move first eastward across the U.S. to college in Ohio, and now again more eastward to France. Likewise, curiosity is what is going to keep up my attempts to converse with the people I meet, despite my broken French. Curiosity is what is going to drive me on strolls throughout Nantes even when all my family could attest that I’m so directionally challenged I couldn’t find my way across my own hometown. Curiosity is an innate element in all of us, and to deny it would be like forgetting the lyrics of a favorite song.
In this waiting period, I’ve also grudgingly been forced to think—by questioning family members, friends, and my own thoughts—of what is going to come of all of this. What is that big looming, grey, mysterious cloud of “after college” going to take shape into? I honestly don’t see myself answering that question anytime soon. Part of the very reason that I chose to major in French is its wonderful, and troublesome, ambiguity. When someone has knowledge of a second or third language in their resume arsenal, thousands of other job opportunities open up in whatever countries those new languages “unlock.” While this is a huge plus for language majors, it also makes deciding where in the world to live after college a bit difficult. On top of this, there are numerous different opportunities and specializations available for language majors in organizations at home and abroad. Again—the luxury of being able to choose is great. My ability to choose…will hopefully be honed during my year abroad. I’ll leave the big decisions to post-France me, who, through having seen more of the world, is sure to be much wiser on the subject.
Throughout all of my travel preparation, my thoughts always loop back to the voice of my great-grandmother singing the french song she carried with her in full until she passed away just last year…Au Clair de La Lune. Though being British and unable to speak French, high school French classes and scattered vacations allowed her to fall in love with France and its famous nursery rhyme. Though I did not understand all of the lyrics until I started taking French in college two years ago, my great-grandmother’s joyful tone as she sang them have lingered over my thoughts; I thought the lyrics hauntingly beautiful in her voice. Eventually, it was my great-grandmother who caused my interest to begin French and, ultimately, to major in it.
In truth, when I board the first plane of my journey toward Boston in just over a week, all my fears and excitement are sure to be bubbling and mixing in an unlikely soup that won't settle quite right in my stomach. After having written this all down, however, the solutions have become much more obvious and the fears less substantial (as I believe often happens after putting the tangled mess of one’s mind in nice black-and-white lines). And, after I’ve battled through a long line of emotionally exhausted people with a back bent from carrying my loaded backpack throughout the airport to finally sit down in my airplane seat, I know that I’ll pull up Au Clair de La Lune on Spotify, and the wonderfully curious song will lift my gaze and thoughts out of the tiny airplane window, toward France.
More Blogs From This Author
<p>My name is Miah Chu Won Tapper. I come from a large family with two younger brothers and three younger step-siblings, whom I live with on the small island of Oahu, Hawaii. I’ve always had a passion for traveling but until now I’ve only traveled the world in books. As a French major, I’m so excited to be able to continue the adventure in Nantes, France. </p>