16 days from now, I will be boarding a plane to Paris. 16 days from now, I will be waving au revoir to my loves in the U.S. and spring in Chicago (and to eating Sprinkles cupcakes and watching Scandal live and
Alterra Colectivo Coffee) as I take a stab at la vie française.
And while I’m finally approaching the two-week countdown, it still feels as though this trip – this adventure, this blind jump off a cliff, this dream come true – can’t possibly be real. A French visa, contact information for my host family, plane tickets, and stacks of French travel and lifestyle books in my bedroom, however, suggest otherwise.
After 8 years of French classes and a lifelong love of travel, I’m finally moving to France. For four months.
Here’s where I’m going:
I will be living and studying in Nantes, France (you can correctly say font with an n, or, you know, just do as Chuck and James like to do and say panties with an n) in an IES Abroad program focused on French language and culture. All of my classes in Nantes, no matter the subject, will be taught entirely in French at either the IES center with other Americans or at l’Université de Nantes with local students. Academically, my focus will be on language and culture classes that satisfy requirements for my French degree. I’d also like to take classes in international marketing, art history, and anything else that sounds interesting and that I have time for. Can you say French Wine 101?
While I’m going to France to take classes, I’ve learned enough from observation and friends that the learning that happens during study abroad extends well outside the classroom. This fact is not lost on me.
While abroad, I want to go places I haven’t been before. I want to meet interesting people. I want to speak as little English as possible. I want to dance on the banks of la Loire and la Seine with a picnic and wine and friends. I want to learn to cook. I want to learn as much as I can. I want to eat. I want to be a tourist and go to museums and landmarks and places I know only from the pages of grade school history books. I want to learn the culture well enough to fit in with the Nantais. And I want to remain curious, forever open to and interested in learning everything I don’t know, having every experience I’ve never had, and knowing every person I’ve yet to meet.
I can’t wait.
As I go, I’ll use this blog to check in with words and photos as often as I can. Until January 7, however, I’ll be buried in packing lists, trying to rationalize bringing all of my shoes, and continuing to annoy the family with French responses I know they can’t understand. Oh, and I think there might be a holiday or two, as well.