“You must be so excited!!!!” Don’t get me wrong, that statement is 100% true; it just loses its flavor after hearing it from various mild acquaintances for the 36th time. I haven’t even left yet, but this incredible academic and cultural opportunity has already dominated most of the dialogue in my life. The conversations usually sound the same, as I continue to run into those awkward situations when you see someone you sort of know, but have to guess at what their name is so you just say “Hiiii…how are you?” in a flawlessly smooth acknowledgment of your acquaintance without revealing that you forget their name. So those redundant scenarios in which you never really know how much information to give when they ask what you’ve been up to? Lately, studying in Nice has given me the perfect friendly, conversational response. It’s a new and unique thing that they would love to hear about, hopefully, because I love to talk about it. My excitement for the program, the culture, and the language never gets old, not to mention everyone gets jealous when I tell them that Nice cruises at a nice 50-60 degrees in January (take that Minnesota).
But to be honest, I’m still waiting for it to hit me. Really hit me. My head is still stuck in the business of “What do I still have to do before I leave?” “When am I getting my class schedule?” “What kind of cellphone am I going to use there?” (Classic Millennial move, right?) Since the very beginning of the application process, I’ve been so caught up in the process of obtaining visas and the preparing paperwork side of studying abroad that I’ve only recently let myself relax and start reveling in the excitement a little more.
I think part of the reason my reality check hasn’t quite sunk in yet is that I can only prepare for this experience to a certain extent. Sure, I can ask other people that have studied abroad, but no matter how hard I try, I won’t be able to make their study abroad my study abroad. I can anticipate what I think the specific culture of the city will be like, based on my previous travels in France or on the stereotypes of a laid-back southern lifestyle, but the truth is I won’t know - I can’t know - until I get there and live it. That’s when it’ll hit me. When speaking French, eating French food, following French customs becomes my daily life, then and only then I will know what to expect the next day.
Although I’m still waiting for the butterflies, the impatient anticipation that will come when I’m at the airport, packed and ready, I am excited to study in Nice, to experience a new culture, to travel to countless other new cities, landscapes, to hear and learn new languages, to live in what some say is the most beautiful city in the world.