Paris is always a good idea

And the anxieties that got me this far

When it came to preparing for my upcoming semester abroad, there seemed to be 300 steps to take before any of it began to make sense or seem real. Through choosing my destination, buying plane tickets and paying tuition, one small formality has presented itself as seriously complicated.

The directions on the application for a student visa are in French — a language that I have nothing more than a mere elementary understanding of.

Even with a high-school education in the language, the already technical guidelines, written by people whose native tongue is so obviously incongruent with mine, seemed even more daunting. I sat for 20 minutes staring at my computer screen before walking away to take a mental break that obviously included a visit to the pantry. Snacks are rewards, I have to keep telling myself this.

After completing the application, laughing at how much my ability to understand French has degraded in a mere three years, all I could do was sit back and hope the French Consulate would perform as it promised, or that I took all the necessary steps to ensure that they were able to grant me the visa.

So, tomorrow will be the fateful day that determines whether I am truly going abroad to Paris this semester. There is still the possibility that this reality of mine is not the country’s reality, and this is all still a lucid dream. The tuition is paid, the flights are booked and my SIS schedule is frighteningly empty. There is really no turning back at this point — that is unless Embassy Row says otherwise. Come noon tomorrow, the reality will set in and the butterflies will start to explore to the depths of my stomach.

And still, I cannot help but wonder whether one small mistake will make this dream really just that — a dream. I have spent my time logistically preparing for my semester abroad, and have invested even more energy into the mental preparation. Having such a close group of friends who know and appreciate my personality will be incredibly hard to leave behind. I wish I could bring them all with me in my already overstuffed suitcase, but realistically that’s not why I chose to study abroad.

I invite the challenge of being uncomfortable with language, with my host family, my new friends, my classes and travel. If one small error is the reason I cannot get a student visa, I will find another way to get to Paris.

If Audrey Hepburn said it, then it must be true.

Published January 12, 2014 in Life

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