Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bienvenue! -aka-The Official Freakout-Before-Leaving-Freakout


Je m'appelle Staci, et je suis un livre.  Translation:  My name is Staci.  I am a book.  That's about all that I feel I can remember right now.  I am creating this blog to chronicle my life building up to, including, and following a trip to Angers, France, where I will be studying French for four months.  Why, may you ask?  Because I love the French language, the French culture, and the French way of living, and I want to use it in a dream career where I speak French and do French-y type things.


 Mais, non!  I am going to really learn about French culture and language, not the stereotypical sailor-shirt-wearing culture where the Eiffel Tower is centered everywhere.

There has got to be more to France than one unused radio tower!

 So, here I go, on my first trip to France!  I am embarking on a lot of "firsts" surrounding this trip: my first blog, my first attempt at perfecting the awesomeness of the French language, and although not my first study abroad trip, my first study abroad trip where I've had to do all of the preparation/planning on my own.  One would think that I would be okay with this, seeing as how, as a non-traditional student of 28 years of age, I would be stereotypically "more mature", and therefore more mentally able to prepare this kind of venture on my own.  Alas!  'Tis not so!  Actually, I feel more like this:

Yup, that's right.  My first-grade self.  Complete with Muppet Babies necklace (my favorite one at the time), and missing my two front teeth.  I can still remember the spit that would fly if I would ask for anything as simple as a "pen-thil" to write with.  And why, do you ask, I feel like my six-year-old self?  BECAUSEI'MGOINGTOFRANCEALLBYMYSELFANDI'MSOSOSOSOSCARED!!!!  Me, alone, navigating the streets of first Paris, then Angers, France, to go to L'Université Catholique De L'Ouest for a whole semester.

I stress on the alone part because I have never done anything alone.  Not really.  I was privileged enough to go to Peru on a study abroad trip my first time around in college (where I earned an Associate's Degree in Archaeology), but that was with 18 other people.  I have lived in Asheville (North Carolina) for almost eight years, but it has always been with friends, family or roommates.  My first part of this alone experience came with going to the French Consulate in Atlanta two weeks ago:

Why, yes, I DID in fact take a picture as a keepsake of me surviving the drive all the way down to Atlanta and back by myself, thank you very much. 

Okay, so there are things that I do alone all the time.  Like grocery shopping.  And driving around town.  And singing at the top of my lungs whilst driving around town.  I am sure that my friends and family are happy that I don't subject them to my incessant, off-key shrillage whenever anything from Tori Amos to MIA comes on the radio if they happen to be with me in Vera, my 2010 White Nissan Versa.
Nod to Firefly fans out there--"I call it Vera".
 And to help fund my trip, one of my scholarships that I won was through the Gilman International Scholarship Program, which is helping fund a sizable chunk of my trip (thank you, Gilman Scholars Program!)...but for me, that all shies in comparison to actually going somewhere!  I mean, I was scared to death just about driving to Atlanta, how am I going to be able to cope with such a change of lifestyle?  I won't be working (which I have done since I was old enough to work at age fifteen-and-a-half), I won't be driving, and I will be living with a host family.  All of these concepts I have not known in YEARS, and now I have to do all of them, and in FRANCE???  Don't get me wrong, I'm super-excited about speaking French and living there for four months, but that doesn't mean that I don't feel like a little kid lost all alone in the department store, with no front teeth and slurring her words, while wearing wayyy too many colors to ever pass off as someone un-Américaine (reference 6-year-old picture above for current fashion style).  Zut, alors!

How much will I expect to stand out in France?  Let's just say that my own "Fantastic Voyage" will probably compare to how Coolio would look like, getting his swagger on 1995-style with his funky hair, in his song of the same name.  Except, you know, without the drugs and stuff.

Here's to France, yo.

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