A Travellerspoint blog

"All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go"

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View Semester Abroad on harcegnt's travel map.

I finally managed to find the time to get everything organized and my bags packed. (Well,almost packed). I still have a list, miles long, with things I need to do and things I need to buy before I leave. Among many things this list includes getting a hair cut and calling the banks.

After much stress and anticipation, my French student VISA arrived a few days ago. My visit to the French consulate was an adventure in itself! I had to travel to Atlanta to appear in person at the Consulate. My appointment was at 9:20am but I was not seen until close to 11am. And you thought the dentist was bad with making you wait? People left the office in front of me crying and upset but luckily my application was approved, although that does not mean I was approved for a VISA and I was told my application could be denied at any time. A weight was lifted off my shoulder when I actually held the VISA in my hands.


My flight leaves O'hare tomorrow at 4:15 CST but I will probably arrive at the airport around 1:45pm just to be safe. I went a head and checked in for my flight earlier today online and chose my seats. I am flying over to Paris on KLM, which I am excited about. I have never flown them before but I hear that they have a fantastic business/first class section. Unfortunately, I will not be sitting in that section, but I sure hope those people enjoy the flight!

I was slightly nervous about the flight as I was worried I was going to get a middle seat. For whatever reason, I couldn't choose a seat until check in the day before. Excited would be an understatement to how I felt when I managed to snag the last window seat on the plane. I understand that I will not be able to see anything out the window during flight, but having the wall to sleep against is almost a necessity when stuck on a plane for 9 hours. Otherwise, without the window and wall that accompanies it, I could end up falling asleep on some fat sweaty person's lap, who does not believe in deodorant. Or worse, they falls asleep on me! I learned that the hard way on my flight to Peru.

My excitement level has certainly increased since the last post. I knew that as the day of departure approached, I would become significantly more excited. I finally received my home stay information earlier today. I had procrastinated on turning in some forms so I did not get it until later. I learned that I will be staying with a retired lady and will also have a house mate, who is studying with the same program as me. I was never concerned about living with my host family and on my housing questionnaire I listed that I was impartial to having another American student living with me, but when I found out that I did have a house mate, I was actually pretty excited. It is going to be nice to have someone who is going through the same experiences.

I should probably get off to bed as I am going to have a very busy day tomorrow. If you don't hear from me sooner, I will update you when I arrive. I am sure I will have a fun story to tell. I will leave you with a picture of what the room looked like while I was packing.


Posted by harcegnt 23:00 Archived in USA Tagged preparation Comments (2)

RIP: Summer of 2009

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View Semester Abroad on harcegnt's travel map.

Where did the summer go? It seems like yesterday I was cramming for exams in Milliken and now the majority of my friends are either back in classes or moving back onto campus this weekend. The summer really did fly right by me!

I am headed to Paris for the semester via a short stop over in Illinois this week, to visit with my Grandparents and other family. I am glad that I made the decision to spend a few days here before jet setting to another continent for four months. It definitely forced me to leave work before the eve of my departure to Paris and has certainly forced me to not procrastinate too much on the packing, as I had to pack before coming here. When it comes to packing, I always procrastinate.

Outside of leaving my friends and family, I would say the hardest part so far has been leaving my job at CarMax. I have worked there for almost two years and anyone who knows me is well aware that I am addicted to working and spend way too much time in the office. I was scheduled four days a week this summer but always seemed to find myself spending 7 days a week at the store. I don't know that it was the money that kept me working so much as it was the sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. My last day of work was really when I felt the pending trip start to sink in for the first time.

Every August, for the past 14 years, has always brought with it the feeling of disappointment as I realize my summer has come to an abrupt end and I will soon be returning to a life of homework and exams. My upcoming semester in Paris has presented an unusual feeling as I approach the end of my summer vacation. While I am obviously going to Europe for school, at this point, it is hard to not get the sense of going on vacation. Because living in a foreign country for four months is uncharted territory for me, it is hard to really know what to feel. While I obviously feel excitement and anticipation it is hard to really distinguish my mental emotions at this point. I often just find myself going through the day to day motions leading up to my departure. Surprisingly to most, I really don't find myself thinking too much about leaving for Paris. While I am very excited for the opportunity, I really don't think that it has completely set into my mind just yet. (Maybe that is why I didn't even think about packing until the day before I left Charlotte). I am sure that sometime between now and the flight over seas, it will ultimately sink in.

I don't really have many worries thus far about living in a foreign country for 4 months. Of course my worries consist of the standard things: the language barrier, the food, my host family, my newly licensed sister driving my car back home.... At this point I haven't really begun to worry about much beyond my initial arrival in Paris. Classes and new friends are beyond my scope of concern at this point.

It has been a challanege tryinng to drop everything at home and move far away for four months. I wonder what it will be like living alone in a foreign country. In reality the things I worry about are actually things I look forward to. I am looking forward to meeting and interacting with my host family, trying new foods, and surprisingly the idea of a language barrier excites me. While I do wish to learn the language and speak it fluently upon my return home, having to struggle to communicate and relying almost entirely upon facial expression, hand gestures, and the recognition of key simmilarities in words excites me. I think it is going to be liberating to be on my own.

Maybe the things I thought I was worried about really aren't worries. Well, I still definitely worry for my car.

The idea of having so many people back home, who all want to communicate with me, scares me. I know how bad I am about replying to emails, so I figured a blog would be a good way for everyone to get the majority of the information they would like to know. I searched around for a while before deciding which website would be graced with my blog. For whatever reason, I ultimately decided upon here. I think the whole map, showing my present location, sealed the deal for me. I hope to use this blog as a medium to keep in touch and keep everyone informed of everything going on during my time abroad. It will also become an invaluable tool when trying to remember what happened when, in what order, where, and with who it happened!

I will be armed with my camera and video camera so be on the lookout for pictures and videos posted here!

Au revoir!

Posted by harcegnt 21:36 Archived in USA Tagged preparation Comments (0)

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