After years of planning, I decided on a departure date. I had held two jobs all summer, working over 50 hours a week to save up for my expenses. I researched, watched travel blogs and picked up a French minor. I applied for a French visa and spent time with my friends and family. Thankfully, my advisor made the process clear and easy, especially when communicating between two countries. Finally, I was ready to go.
Landing was the most heart-racing and exciting moment of my life. I was alone in a new country with a 50-pound suitcase and a dream. Paris is gorgeous — a fact widely known and shown all over the world. But a city and its beauty are never what makes life beautiful; it is the people we surround ourselves with and the experiences we go through. This is why I am so excited about what this experience opens me up to.
I went through orientation with my program, Mission Interuniversitaire de Coordination des Echanges Franco-Américains (MICEFA), the following day. MICEFA is a nonprofit organization that matches you to a French university that best fits your needs and desires for studying in France, and also provides a three-week French intensive program at the start to acclimate everyone to the language. I am about an A1/A2 level of French (intermediate) so I had classes with those who were in a similar spot. MICEFA also provides some welcoming activities and ongoing support throughout the entire time in France. It is the backbone that keeps all the students in the program afloat. My first week, I was able to go on a boat tour of the Seine, which was “trés cool.” I met all my fellow MICEFA peers and saw so many classic monuments.
Since then, I have made friends, tried new foods and even experienced getting a cold and having to see a French doctor. The girls here became my friends quickly. This was mostly due to circumstance, but it’s so wonderful how the universe brings people together. We were matched into the same hostel room, where we all stayed for the first week until our accommodations were ready.
It has been absolutely wonderful so far, and I am endlessly excited to see how I grow as time goes on. My French is already improving, the weather is gorgeous and the city has amazing transportation services. It is hard to leave a place you are so comfortable in, but it is worth it to push yourself. You never know what could happen.