I’m getting ready to leave for my term abroad on Thursday this week, and I have to say that I can’t help but be nervous. I have heard a lot of things about the French that both are exciting to me and a little scary.
I am very nervous to leave because I have fears that my fluency level is not high enough to really be able to express myself in French. I know that many people at my college will be able to speak English but I am scared of not being able to articulate myself. I know that this is a normal fear for most foreign language students but I can’t help but feel a bit nervous. I’m excited to be going to a less touristy part of France to do my semester. Aix is much smaller than Paris and I think that because of that I will be more accepted as a foreigner than I might be in a larger city like Paris or Lyon. I hope that because it is a bit more remote that I will be able to assimilate faster and easier into the culture.
One of the things I am most excited about is the open markets that happen during certain days of the week. These markets sound to be a great way to get fresh and local produce from farmers in the area. I really enjoy supporting those that produce things close to where I live in Oregon, and I am excited to be able to do the same in France. In addition to food, there are also flower markets. I hope that I will be arriving in a time that flowers will still be around and in season. I think that going to a French flower market would be really beautiful and I would love to be able to experience the smells of all the flowers and to see all the colors together.
I have also heard that the French drink a lot of wine and mineral water. I am not a very big fan of either, but I would like to be able to go there and experience them as any French person would. While I am not twenty-one yet, alcohol is not illegal for me in France. I have heard that because of this when a lot of students go abroad they have a tendency to go crazy and drink a lot. I really don’t want to follow suit in this. While I think that I will indulge in wine at dinner or the like as with the normal French customs I don’t want to be drinking all the time nor do I want that to be the goal of my trip. I hope to enjoy the customs and culture as it is.
It is to my understanding that most drinks don’t come with ice in Europe. I know for some of my friends that use ice constantly in their drinks this would be a problem. But I don’t usually tend to put ice in my beverages. So I think that I will be okay with this custom.
As far as getting ready to leave I haven’t started packing yet. I leave in four days and mostly I have just been making piles of things that I think I want to bring which I am sure will be twice as much as what I really will bring. I have been buying a few last minute things recently. I went on a mission to find a boring black purse that will be boring enough to not tempt anyone to mug me. I think I have a small fear of that happening. Today a friend of mine bought me luggage tags as a going away gift. I still feel like there are so many things that I have to get done even though my to do list is dwindling.
The past few days I have been almost apathetic about leaving. I haven’t been excited or nervous but rather “whatever” about the whole thing. It hasn’t been until today when I started cleaning and putting some personal things in boxes in my bedroom that I am beginning to feel sad to leave my friends and family. I had a small party with my friends last night as a way to see everyone before going away. It was hard to say goodbye to them and also many of my family members the last couple days. I know that I have a lot of support to leave but it doesn’t make it any easier to know that I won’t see them for quite a while.
I am also nervous that I haven’t gotten any information about my host family other than their address and an email. I sent them a letter about myself a week ago and haven’t gotten a response back yet. I was hoping to know if I was staying with a family with brothers and sisters or just the single woman whose name I was given. So it has been a little disheartening to wake up every morning to check my email and find nothing… I know it will not be a big deal once I am there but I think I would feel better if I knew a little bit more about the situation I was
walking flying into.
I am happy to be going and I don’t want to make it sound like I am not excited, but I can’t say that I am not going to be sad to leave my family and friends. It does help to know that I have support for this trip, and that if I need anything there are people I could Skype call.
Overall, I have some last minute things to do… like pack. But I know that when the time comes to get on the plane on Thursday I will be ready and excited to start my life changing experience!