T minus 7 days:
Today, it hit me. You know the feeling (especially you Class of 2019ers). That thing you’ve been waiting an eternity for is almost here. Whoa. The emotions thunder in: joy and sadness, anticipation and anxiety. Do I jump for joy, run and hug my cat, devour some peanut butter? The peanut butter, definitely (justification: it’s really hard to find in France, right?).
Five minutes and two spoonfuls later, I rein myself in. The Paris Fall IES program is well established, they know what they’re doing, and you’ll be fine. But with only seven days left in the States, there’s so much to do! Let’s check the calendar!
Renew personal property insurance… I’ll figure out how to do that later.
Take mom to her three-hour doctor appointment. Okay, what else?
Copy transcripts and vaccination records… isn’t the printer out of ink? It’s definitely out of ink.
T minus 5 days:
Welcome to Pomona, Class of 2019! Has it really been two years? Over the past few days, watching the arrival of the Class of 2019 brings back great memories of Orientation, OA, and my first few weeks back in fall 2013. It’s a bit strange knowing I won’t be returning to campus for another five months, but the choice was a very purposeful one. I will undoubtedly write a lengthy post on my reasons for studying abroad in Paris at some point, but for now, here are some questions I had to consider before deciding to go abroad. The answers are still unfolding:
If I go abroad, what will I learn that Pomona can’t teach me?
How will studying abroad contribute to my own goals? Not those post-graduation “career” goals… the real goals, the ones meant for a lifetime.
Why should I choose to spend less time at Pomona? After all, I’m paying to be here, with the incredible resources and support the college offers. Why leave?
Am I ready?
T minus 2 days:
My packing game is horrendous. Method: I can’t forget this sweater, better put it where I can see it (the floor). You can probably learn a lot about someone by what and how they pack for a trip, but I’ll leave that analysis to the psych majors.
Packing for studying abroad in a place like France hasn’t been all that challenging, largely thanks to the incredible resources Pomona has available for students preparing to study abroad. Before leaving campus in May, I perused the Office of Study Abroad’s binders full of student reviews on the Paris IES program. The numerous group meetings and one-on-one sessions answered any questions I had about travel stipends and financial aid. Pomona’s Romance Languages and Literature Department hosts information sessions, and resources like the Oldenborg staff and your own language professors take a lot of the stress out of the whole process. Two days before leaving, I’m feeling thankful.
T minus 24 hours:
Bags packed and weighed: Check.
Arrival arrangements made with host family: Check.
Flight check-in: Check.
Voices pre-departure blog post: Almost there!
Before leaving home, the little things one takes for granted are always cast in a new light (I may or may not have just hugged my blender). I’ve been lucky to grow up in Vermont, where day hikes, farmers’ markets, and clear night skies are part of everyday life. I know I’ll miss these little things most of all. Western Europe isn’t the craziest of places to study, but that doesn’t mean I’m not terrified.
These next few months will no doubt feature several ramblings on shattered preconceptions, awkward encounters, and daily life in La Ville Lumière (the City of Lights). If there is anything about study abroad that I can shed light on while in Paris, don’t hesitate to send me a note via Facebook or email (you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org).