It seems so recently that I told everyone who asked about my college plans and my major that I would "probably study abroad for a semester in my junior year." Somehow that shifted to "going abroad in the fall" and finally to "leaving for France
Actually, the reality of departure hit me last Sunday night. On the eve of my leaving Oberlin for the semester, I lost all ability to handle goodbyes. While sitting in East with six of my closest friends, I burst into tears, and their attempts to cheer me up with stories of butter Elvises and impressions of savannah cats only made me sob harder. How could I endure an entire semester without savannah cats?
That night, for the first time, I truly panicked. I nearly hyperventilated and cried into an unfortunate friend's shoulder for an hour on a bench outside. In his effort to console me, he gave me the clearest insight I've ever had into why it's so hard for me to leave Oberlin: it's the only place where I feel (or have ever felt) I belong so completely. No other extended period in my life has felt so right, and now I'm tossing myself into an utterly foreign experience.
But maybe that's the whole point.
Going to Aix-en-Provence means taking myself out of my geographical, linguistic, and social comfort zone. For a person who craves control and security, it's no surprise that this is a terrifying concept. But it's one that I have to embrace if I want to stay sane, and I plan on doing just that. I'm not going to France for the classes (although I do need those to, you know, ever graduate). I'm going in order to use my French for more than discussing literature, to eat the food, to explore the cities, and to become as much a part of France as I can in three and a half months. In short, I'm going to learn to belong in France the way I belong in Oberlin.
I make no promises about this blog, but I feel like it's the Thing To Do for this Important Experience. Hopefully it'll be an entertaining documentation of mes aventures français; if not, then hopefully the reason will be that I'm too busy eating and studying and exploring and belonging to bother writing about it. We'll see! For now, though, I'll leave you with this melodramatic introduction and return to counting socks and underwear. They're of slightly more pressing importance than blogging.
À demain, France. See you across the pond.