It’s the end of August!
And I’m thinking, “Woah, already?!” because that means there’s only a few days until 
I’m in France!!! Study abroad cannot come soon enough… or can it?
My internship this summer has been more than I could’ve wished for. But it’s still a full 
time job (groan) and I definitely miss school and all my friends there, so I’m ready for summer 
to be over (am I really saying this??). At the same time, when September rolls around this year, I 
won’t be heading back to the campus I’ve grown to know like the back of my hand these past 
two years. Nope, I’m going to Aix, where the only sure thing is that I will have not a clue that 
first day. 
We all remember that first day of freshman year. You and your roommate psyching each 
other up for “Oh my god, your first college class ever!” Well that got old fast, didn’t it?
Now, we’re big bad juniors. And while some of our colleagues back in the U.S. are going 
to celebrate their new level of upperclassmenship, we’ll be looking around for Art 101… mais en 
français.
So that means I’ve been brushing up on my French (un petit peu) and practicing my bises
(not really – Americans would be so freaked out by that) right? Actually, I do have a few tricks. I 
changed my computer clock to 24-hour time, my weather app to Celsius, and my Facebook 
language to French. Voilà! Three simple ways to prepare myself.

My travel plans will bring me to Aix a little less than one week before classes begin. This 
means I’ll get to adjust to the town a bit. I seriously love exploring and I’m used to walking 
everywhere – pas de problème. Hopefully, during my first days in Aix, I’ll find a great café to 
chill at. Now wait just a second, I know it sounds cliché! But this girl is one serious coffee lover. 
You find me a latte and book and I’m set for the day.
I don’t know much about the town of Aix. Is it small? Is it big? (Obviously not as large as 
Marseille.) I do wish we were slightly closer to the beach. Is there a river in Aix? Where are the 
parks? These are the questions I hope to answer for myself within a few days of my arrival.
What’s that you say? I should Google it or pick up a Lonely Planet guide? To that I say: 
Did they have Google in Cézanne’s day? Did Hemmingway read Frommer’s?
I didn’t think so.

I’m a “just wing it!” kind of person. Travelling is one of my greatest pleasures. Coffee is 
another. I’ve been studying French since I was 11 years old, in the sixth grade. 
So, personally, it’s not the language or the travelling that’s got me most freaked out. It’s 
this idea of starting at a new school again. I went to the same school almost my whole life. Being 
“the new kid” is not something I’m very accustomed to. My friends would tell you that, once I’m 
comfortable around people, you’d be hard pressed to get me to shut my trap. But getting to that 
level of comfort takes a while. The fact that I’ll be living with people I’ve never met before and 
navigating a city I’ve never been to before will only add to the time it will take for me to get
comfortable.ll right, pep talk time: realistically, you only get to study abroad once. That means you 
better make the most of it. As Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, “Do one thing every day that 
scares you.”
Motto for the fall? Heck yeah it is.
No really, we’re getting t-shirts.

In other super-exciting news, my visa is good to go! Before I went, I was ridiculously 
(some might have said irrationally) nervous that the Consulate would deny my request for a visa. 
Thankfully, that didn’t happen and the visa process went smoothly for me. Being from New 
York, I got to go two whole times to the Consulate. As we say in New York, “Oy vey!”
The first time was a painstakingly long two hours of muffled loudspeaker announcements 
where you weren’t really sure if they were speaking French or English until you heard your name 
– “Stephanie, window two please” – and thumb-twiddling. One thing they should add to that 
helpful little checklist on the Consulate website is “Bring a book or large amount of paperwork 
as you will have no cell phone or Internet access.”
On the plus side, I had a great conversation with two other college juniors who are going 
abroad in France! One had just flown in from her internship in San Francisco (she’s from NY 
originally and therefore fell under our jurisdiction) and was going back for her third trip to 
France in four years. She had so much to say about the tiniest towns! The other was – get ready –
another IAU student! We both discovered we’re going to be in Aix this fall and instantly bonded 
over college life, visa stress, and excitement for France. Would you look at that, I’m one small 
step ahead in this friend-making game. 
The second time I went to the Consulate (to pick up my visa; NY won’t mail it to you), I 
saw my fellow IAU classmate again on my way out. Just a quick “Hi! Bye!” this time since we 
are trying to get out of that place as quickly as possible. Visit numéro deux was, delightfully, 
only one hour. Phew!

So now I’ve got my visa! Nothing can stop me now (Except the weight limit on checked 
baggage. Hey, we girls need our shoes and this is France we’re talking about, remember?).
To Aix-en-Provence, and beyond!!!



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