Studying Abroad just sort of happened. One day I was sitting in my room, when my roommate said, “I want to study abroad.” I sat there for a second, thought about it, and then tentatively agreed. I had thought about Study Abroad before, but I wasn’t sure if it was for me. I don’t have a lot of money to fall back on, so I’d be going on a budget, and my roommate and I had managed to get the best room in our frat house, and I wasn’t ready to just give that up after a semester. However the more I thought about it, the more Study Abroad seemed like a good idea. My college has a bunch of general education requirements for graduation, and while I had completed most of my requirements, I still needed to take two language classes and an art class. I figured I’d look into some options to see if there was anything that could fulfill these requirements. Fast forward to today where I am only a couple of weeks shy of my semester in Aix-en Provence.

I would say that I am excited, or nervous, or some combination of the two, but I really don’t have any strong feelings about my pending semester abroad. One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was to never think about what things will be like in the future, because you will always be wrong. So instead of meticulously carving a mental picture of my ideal Study Abroad, I’m just embracing the unknown.

However, embracing the unknown has some downsides. As of today I haven’t learned a word of French, and realistically I don’t see myself learning too much more before I land in France. I also didn’t really bother looking into what I should bring to France, so my packing list may have been a little rough. I did the majority of my packing last weekend, so that I wouldn’t get bogged down in these last couple of weeks. I packed:

(1)     My clothing: Shirts, pants, jeans, and all that jazz.

(2)     Toiletries: Toothpaste, toothbrush, razors, and the like.

(3)     Paperwork: Passport, notebooks, and money.

(4)     Technology: My laptop, cellphone, and chargers.

Honestly if you do a good job with those four categories, you’ll have all you need for your trip. I also packed a couple of pictures of my family and friends, and a present for my host parents. (It’s a candle) The only issue I could foresee would be my one bag weighing too much, I’m a tall guy which leads to some heavier clothes, but I plan on weighing my bag once I get my last few pairs of pants out of the dryer, and if it’s too heavy, then I’ll just ditch some stuff.

Another downside to embracing the unknown would be a sharp increase in disorganization. Now I’m generally a pretty laid back guy, but nothing cuts through my relaxed attitude like paperwork (and mini-golf). As I sat there in the consulate, looking over all of the papers that I had just printed a couple hours earlier I watched a woman get sent back, as she did not have the necessary paperwork. Then I was called up and I got to struggle to hear some paperpusher through what had to be two inches of thick plastic. I gave him my papers and he told me that I had made a couple of mistakes. Luckily I was able to fax my two missing papers to the consulate later, so I didn’t have to reschedule my appointment. Also a note for future people who have an appointment at the consulate, you have to have the financial guarantee form even if you are going to France on full financial aid, even though their website specifically states that you don’t have to do that.

I’m still waiting on my Visa to be given to me, but I’ve still got a couple of weeks, and I’m not going to bother worrying about something that is completely out of my power, but a piece of advice to others who plan on studying abroad, get your consulate appointment done as early as possible, it really will make your life easier.  Once I get my Visa I will be completely ready for my trip to France, and I cannot wait to see what new things await me across the ocean.