The Holiest of Shoes and a Month and Three Day Countdown


The blue shoes are indefinitely packed into one of the four UPS cardboard storage boxes that sealed away my Fall semester dorm. It turns out that my five euro pair of knock- off keds really weren’t walking shoes seeing as the floppy undersides finally gave way, the soles ripping slightly into a delicately crafted hole (aka the shoe’s gaping wound). My sock, therefore, replaces the underside lining in the shoe’s holiest of areas.

Right, not quite walking shoes anymore. (Although according to my grandmother, they really never were as such.) I’ve meaning to replace them. Just, as always, funds are low and saving the money towards a trip in Europe sounds far more enticing.

Europe, specifically Paris, France: my upcoming journey abroad.

Following my return from Australia, I was determined to continue this blog. I get such a thrill from exploring D.C., setting upon our nation’s capital in true tourist fashion (excluding flannel shirt and fanny pack). But the idea of exploring through the eyes of an observer brewed a simmer of exhaustion whenever the idea cropped up. A semester hiatus, however, has energized me once more and four months later, I’m officially set to continue my adventures as I prepare to embark on a semester abroad in la belle France.

I leave for Paris Jan. 30. The study abroad program begins the 31st and ends May 29. My return ticket, however, is for Aug. 4. I am permitted one date change for my ticket if all plans fall through, but as of now I hope to bum about (jokes, find an apartment), pursue a summer career to pay the rent (plans to brush up on my waitress skills—wait, what waitress skills?) and find a journalism internship to boost the resume. I’d like to stay in Paris, although London might end up being more suitable as a journalism internship would likely need to be in English.

And keeping along with the American college student's dream, I fully plan to backpack. I’ve got some nifty ideas of meeting up with some friends in Greece, spending some time with a sorority sister in middle of nowhere Italy and then some time with a friend in Ireland. But I’m really open to anything, and anywhere, wherever. I plan to gather a list of ideas within the next few weeks.

My upcoming trip leaves me bundled with a mesh of emotions. Excitement, for one—the chance to leave behind my life in D.C. in lieu of a romantic stay in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Nerves, given I’m leaving my life behind in D.C. And what if the host family situation doesn’t work out? Or if I don’t make any close friends? I had gone into my experience in Sydney so naively, sure I’d make friends easily, that I’d fall head over heals for my group. Not that it was a horror story overall, but it wasn’t the most seamless of adjustments as there were quite some, lets say differences among the individuals on my trip.

But I think this break from my D.C. zone of comfort is vital. I graduate school in a year and a half (let’s not discuss) and I could easily (ha, easily. Ok hopefully) get a job outside of D.C. and start all over again. And so to grip tightly to a location I’ve made into home is silly because I need to force myself to remove myself from the comfortable in order to start fresh.

And Paris is just that.

My program is an immersion program. While I can’t see myself returning from Paris a thousand percent fluent my goal is at least hundred. Whatever, 99 percent. I understand the tongue fluently as at some point it was my first (and only) language. I grew up in the South of France from age two months to four years old. My initial plan upon moving to the states at age four, had been to teach all of San Diego French. The plan failed given I conformed, dropping my French and replacing it with English. My mother continued speaking to me in French until I was 17—it was my birthday and I was on my way to school. Our backdoor goes out the laundry room and she stood perched in the doorway, a serious, yet slightly amused look on her face as she told me, in English, that she would no longer be speaking to me in French. Something about it being awkward once I find my future husband and he doesn’t speak any French. A little far in advance, but that's pretty much the norm among Jewish mothers.

I took French for four years in high school, learning the grammar and improving my ability to speak. I participated in a French competition each year, returning home with high marks. But through it all (beginning since our move to the states) I never spoke back to my mother in French. I bite my tongue for it now (and proceed to tell my mother it was her fault for not forcing me). I used to speak with such a gorgeous French accent as a child. At age 20, I’m embarrassed to converse freely in French; excluding the fact that I usually have to translate my English train of thought into French words slash I usually can’t think of the right French word, my accent is a heavy American accent.

Oh, the Parisians are just going to have a ball with me.

 But hey, it’s all a part of the challenge.

I’m sure (more like, I’m squeezing my fingers SO HARD) that my French is buried somewhere within the clutter of my mind. I’ll pick that shovel up come Jan. 30.

As for now, I’ve bought myself a book to review my French grammar

I’ve got some work to do from now until Jan. 30. I leave South Florida for Georgia this Friday, spending New Years with some of my dearest camp friends. Following that trip, I’ll be back in D.C. for a month of work. While my parents are helping with my monthly budget, I am in charge of providing a significant portion of my own money. I will be devotig  the month to some serious babysitting, in addition to writing for my internship which also pays. The goal: $700. It's a challenge and I fully accept.

Packing is a non- issue seeing as I have a suitcase in D.C. and one brimming over the case's perimeter onto the floor of my Florida room. I do need to create a proposed travel and sight seeing itinerary. My parents gave me Europe, France and a Paris book for Chanukah.  I plan to go through and gather a list of ideas. And finally, Hulu and Netflix don’t work abroad (minute problem really on the scale of things). I plan to try to get through the plethora of TV shows I’ve missed these past few months.

So, a month and three days. 
The clock is ticking, although I can’t say I’m quite ready just yet.

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