Thursday, December 22, 2011

Description, Rough Itinerary, and Host Family/Friends...?

So lately everyone has been asking about my schedule; when I leave, when I come back, etc....I figured I would put everything in one place so people can look and see when I will be where!

I leave for Angers January 30th and come back to Texas June 3rd.  Once I get there, I will take a placement test to determine which classes I will be able to take. However, I have already discussed this with my academic advisor (Dr. Ragucci, who is a WONDERFUL lady that I love and appreciate very much) about this because she grew up in France, and we have figured out some classes that I will be able to take no matter where I am placed (it's a complicated process....).  So, for my 9 hours at the University, I will more than likely be taking an oral expression class, a literature class, and a history class.  As for the other 6 hours that I will be taking with Dr Schoolcroft, they will be advanced 300-level language classes.  I'm a little bit nervous, as those 9 hours will be taught completely in French...I so badly want to do well!

My classmates and sure to be new "best friends" are Irina (engineering major, french minor, class of '14), Maria (french major and wants to be a teacher like me, fellow class of '13), and Kimberly (international studies major, french minor, class of '12).  These are the girls that I will most likely be spending all my time with!  We have met at a couple study abroad meetings and booked our flight together; we found a Houston/Paris roundtrip with British Airways for only $709!!!  I'm sure I will be writing about our experiences together in a couple months!

Now, I will have a "spring break", which will be April 4th-22nd.  I'm very excited for this time because I plan to travel all over Germany!  I want to visit my friend's girlfriend Christin who lives in Priestewitz, and my Airman friend Kris and his wife Becky (who I am very excited to meet :D) who are stationed at Ramstein Air Force Base.  I can't wait to spend a couple weeks visiting a country that I have already been to twice in the past few years and have grown to enjoy so much!  The history in Germany alone is so amazing, not to mention the food and beer! Can't wait :)

One small area of concern, however, is my host family....both of my friends who have studied abroad in France had horrible host family experiences! I try to keep telling myself that everything will be ok, that no one would sign up to be a host family for an American if they didn't truly want to...but knowing French personality traits, I'm still very anxious!!  French people are very quiet, private, and don't make friends easily.  I'm loud, outgiong, and sometimes overwhelmingly friendly, so I'm worried about how my personality will be portrayed to other people.  I have been told many times that making eye contact and ESPECIALLY smiling at others is highly inappropriate in France.  Do you understand my worry??  Here I am, a happy, smiling 20-year-old, forcing myself to not make eye contact with people, much less give them a warm smile! How will I ever get used to this?!  And another is apparently common knowledge that the French don't make friends easily, either.  They typically live in the same town their entire lives, no one hardly ever moves, so they are essetially "stuck" with the same group of friends from childhood on.  They just DON'T befriend new people.  Can you imagine me, a military child who had to make fast friends every couple of years, just walking down the street or sitting in class with my head down, not talking to or making eye contact with anyone (HEAVEN FORBID SMILING!!!!!!!!!) and just accepting the fact that I will not make any new friends???!  For those of you who know me well, the answer is heck no!!  Most everyone makes fun of me for having "82" best friends.......dang this is going to be tough.

Despite these things, I really am looking forward to learning a lot not just about the language and culture, but about myself.  My roommate Veronika studied abroad in Italy Summer 2011 and it completely changed her life.  I truly am excited to get away and discover what all I am capable of, even though there seem so be some difficult hurdles.  Bring it on, France!!!!

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas!! :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Preparation and Pictures!

I leave for Angers (basically pronounced On-zjay...very French) in 41 days!  I am excited but anxious, as I still have to recieve my student visa and pay off what I owe for the program....a lot to think and worry about!

I figured I would share with y'all some pictures of where I will be going.

Here is an aerial view of Angers:

As you can see in the picture above, there is a HUGE castle in the city.  This is because Angers is right in the heart of French castle country in the northwest, about an hour and a half west of Paris.  Here is a close-up of Chateau Angers:

Beautiful, right? I can't believe I'm going to be living right next to this!!!  This brings me to my next University!  Now, for this program, I am taking 6 hours with an A&M professor (Dr. Schoolcroft) along with the 3 other girls going on this study abroad trip.  In addition, I will be taking 9 hours at "Universit√© Catholique de l'Ouest" ...yes, a Catholic University!
Here are some pictures of this University I will be attending:

Seems awesome enough :)

Well, that's all I have for now.  More prep work...until next time!  Au Revoir!!