Wednesday, January 6, 2016

To France

Well, I am going to France. I honestly didn't let myself believe it was actually happening until I got my visa from the consulate two days ago but now I am sitting at the airport waiting to board a flight to Reykjavík and then to Paris.
My view
This trip has been the most difficult one to arrange and also the one that I've been most hesitant about. There was never any doubt in my mind that I would go to France someday and I most certainly wanted to go but, after two years out of college, I feel like I don't fit into that "just out of college and figuring out the next thing" bracket anymore. New Zealand and Australia just kind of happened, almost accidentally. It was logistically fairly easy to get there (apply for a visa online, buy a ticket, then do whatever the heck you want when you get there), but I had to make France happen and I almost feel guilty about it. Shouldn't I be getting a masters degree or a permanent 9-5 job? Shouldn't I be renting an apartment and buying a car? It doesn't matter that I don't really want most of these things, it's what I should be doing, right?  No, I don't truly think that's what I should be doing and even though many of my friends and family are very supportive and encouraging (thank you!), some aren't and the classic image of American success is a good, stable job, a nice house, a car and a family, which is basically entirely the opposite of my life. So even though I would choose the life of traveler every time, I definitely feel the pressure, especially when I'm home.

But I believe that God has a plan and what's meant to happen will happen. There are plenty of reasons why this could have not happened. I had to find a way to get a job, which I decided was to be an au pair. Then I had to find a family and it took months to find the right one. Next we had to make up a contract and come up with all the necessary paperwork. Every document had to be the original so this involved a lot of mailing things back and forth for signatures, etc. with only a little over a month to get everything done. Then I had to make an appointment with the consulate in New York City (and they are often fully booked months in advance) and actually go to New York and apply for the visa, leave my passport there and go back and get my passport two weeks later, which was a bit of a fiasco in itself. Yet, somehow, it all worked out and I am on my way to France.
Walking around NY before getting my passport

I'll be spending a few days in Paris and before taking the train north and west to a small town called Ploemeur where I will be living with a family, helping out with the kids, and helping them learn English as they help me learn French. It's been about 8 months since I've traveled internationally and, although I've had some amazing adventures and great times in the US I'm excited to experience a new place and a different culture once again. I know it's going to be challenging; I'm going to have learn to communicate in a new language (my French is passable but speaking and understanding is still hard work!) and get used to living with a different family and in an unfamiliar place once again. But, of course, I travel because I love new and unfamiliar things!

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