Anticipation and Expectations: Preparing to (Finally) Study Abroad

Rj Walters
August 24, 2021
Photo showing mountains with gray clouds above a tan/red building with a dome

This week is the first week of school at the University of Colorado Boulder.

That means that it’s also the first week of my last year of undergrad.

But instead of getting up early, picking out the cutest outfit, taking pictures on campus, and going to class, I slept in. I spent the morning drinking coffee on my deck petting my dog, Bruce. Unlike my friends also starting their last year today, I am spending the next three and a half months studying abroad in Nantes, France. So instead of buying textbooks and school supplies this week, I’m trying to figure out which adapters to buy and spending hours on hold with T-Mobile to make sure that I can use my phone while I’m France.

I finished my summer job on August 6th and since that day I have been constantly moving: lunch with a friend in Boulder, dinner with family, a trip to the store, drinks with another friend, you get the picture. Throughout all of that I don’t think I’ve given myself time to really sit with the fact that I’m leaving. Folks keep asking me if I’m ready or if I’m packed and I honestly haven’t thought about it…though I should get on top of packing.

The truth is I don’t know what to expect, I have no clue what the next few weeks will look like. All I know is that Nantes looks beautiful, and I am beyond excited to finally be embarking on a journey I have been trying to make happen for the past three years. All I have really known since the beginning of it all is that I was going abroad, come what may (and boy did it). I transferred to CU in 2019, almost entirely resetting the clock, I chose involvement over studying abroad (ultimately to my benefit, see: March of 2020), and then had a mountain of indecision about when, where, why, and how. I changed my mind from swearing I was going to go to Sweden, then I was going to Paris, and finally I decided to go to IES Abroad Nantes, and if the first couple orientation sessions are any indication, I made the right decision.

That said, I still don’t want to build too many expectations up in my mind just to have them shattered, I want to take this one day at a time and not take it for granted for one second. I know that by focusing on the present and enjoying this experience one moment at a time, I will get to not only be more authentic to myself but also to all of you.

My actual first week of school doesn’t start for about another three weeks but today still feels like a symbolic beginning of a new chapter, of one of my last at CU and last as an undergraduate student. I have so much to think about, packing, flying to France, getting a pass sanitaire, registering for next semester, graduation, and too much else, but that’s for future me to deal with. For now, I am going to finish my coffee, spend time with family, pack, and most importantly, pet Bruce.

See you in Nantes, à bientôt

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Rj Walters

<p>My name is RJ Walters-Dorchak, and I am currently a senior at the University of Colorado Boulder. I study French and my degree is focused on French and Francophone language, culture, and literature. In my free time, I love to read, cook (Julia Child is a personal hero), and spend time outdoors in Colorful Colorado. Music is also something near and dear to my heart and I have a small but mighty collection of vinyl at home. I am thrilled to share my experience and adventures in Nantes with you this fall.</p>

Home University:
University of Colorado - Boulder
Arvada, CO
French Language
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