Sunday, December 28, 2008


So, I haven't blogged in a week, not because I'm in Paris having an awesome time, but because I decided that pushing Paris back a week (and a half, explanation later) would be a good idea. When I got home and knew I had my student visa all worked out and everything and started trying to pull some last minute plans out of thin air, I quickly realized that last minute plans cost lots of extra money I wasn't planning on spending. Not to mention a couple headaches and the utter realization that I was completely unprepared to leave. Regardless of what some of you may believe I'm rather unorganized. After moving all my stuff back home and dumping it in our front room (still sorry about the mess Mom, I promise to clean it up soon) I was ill-equipped to start packing away a mere two suitcases and two backpacks worth of my possessions to last me for 5.5 months. So Mom and I called the travel people and got my plane changed to the 31st. We'd originally planned to change it to the 29th so that I could be in Paris for New Years Eve with friends, but the guy on the phone was certain that there was no room on any flights until the 31st. So that's when I leave. I arrive in Paris at 1:45 pm the next day, yes New Years! I'm a little weary about traveling on the holiday, but I'm sure it'll all work out peachy. I hope. So I got to travel with my folks and lil sister to see the rest of our family in Arkansas and Missouri for Christmas, which was very nice. And now I'm home and back to the place I was last week, which is needing to pack, but now I'm much more prepared. Because I have a plan!

Once in Paris I'll chill with my friends and I believe Carly and Amy, two of my friends who are studying in Cambridge this whole year, and I will be heading off to Amsterdam on the 2nd or 3rd to see the city and hang out there until I have to go to Nantes on Jan. 7th when my official study abroad experience begins. I have to be at the IES center in Nantes on the 7th so that they can orient me and get my living situation all worked out. I'm living with a family while I'm there, but I don't know who yet, they haven't told me that much yet. After that I will be doing an 'off site orientation in Tours' from the 8th to the 11th and another 'off site orientation in Nantes' from the 12th to the 16th. I'm not certain what that means, but I imagine that I'll be traveling with my fellow classmates and teachers and seeing the important sites of France in a very educational fashion. On the 19th my actual classes start and the bookish learning beings.

This is my plan as I know it so far, and I don't plan on changing it anytime soon! I'm very excited to get over there and get started on seeing Europe, but I'll manage to wait a couple more days! ;) I'm not exactly sure how yet, so any of you experienced bloggers reading this might want to tell me, but I'll be taking pictures soon and posting them here for all to see, so stay tuned this blog about traveling is about to actually live up to its purpose!

Until next time!


Friday, December 19, 2008

Lady Luck

I know I said the next time you'd hear from me I'd be in France, but I lied. I'm excited and this good news merits a broken promise. So, believe it or not I totally lucked out!! Happy day!! Emma called Mom yesterday while she was helping me move out of Jones, small pause cause this was a sad moment since Jones pretty much rules, and told her that my Student Visa which will allow me to be in France legally has arrived! This means I leave in aprroximately 3 days! It's amazing and scary and exciting all at the same time. I now have to quickly finalize some travel plans which I'm sure will be fun no matter what and quickly pack and go get some stuff like a converter so my computer doesn't blow up when I plug it in to the European walls. Well, now I am tired and plan to sleep for a while, I just wanted to update everyone quickly while I was still super excited and hadn't gotten frustrated with the packing yet!


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Well here we go...

Due to helpful suggestions from several sources, I've decided that the easiest way to keep everyone updated on my foreign travels will be to post my fun pictures and stories here. This is a pre-emptive blog to prove to myself this works and get this done before I get over to France and forget to set something up.

So, I'm glad you all found me, hope you enjoy my stories and also that I don't bore you too much, I'm not much of a blogger, just thought I'd admit that right off the bat.

I started writing a post script note below that ended up being a good sized paragraph long, so I figured it would fit here just fine instead, as the first story of my adventure. And before I start, it might be helpful for you to know that several of my close friends are already overseas studying in England for an entire academic year, and my plan was to leave a couple weeks before my program started and meet up with them to travel around Europe.

However, this whole adventure thing is getting off to a rocky, bureaucratic start, in the form of French Student Visa applications. Firstly, to get a student visa in France you need pre-approval from Campus France, an online site that asks for your money and a couple forms and in return only sends you a message to your account on their site that says alright now you can apply for your visa. Don't ask, I don't know the point of this either, especially since then you send the exact same paperwork to the French consulate for your district of residence plus about 50 other forms. Here's a fun fact you never thought you'd need to know: The consulate of record for the state of Colorado lies in Los Angeles, CA. This is actually good news because it means I don't have to show up for an interview at the consulate and can instead send in my application by mail. But I'm getting a little far ahead of the story. Back to Campus France, I went online and filled out all the things they wanted from me regarding my anticipated Study Abroad experience, got the forms ready to send and then promptly forgot to go to the store and get the money order and send it along with the forms to Campus France. For two weeks I waited for the approval message before I realized my faux-pas. Now I was officially behind where I should have been with my application instead of slightly early. But I got it sent in and there was still time. I got my approval in a couple weeks and quickly sent of the printed out e-mail in duplicate along with every thing else they requested on the consulate website, also in duplicate, one original and one copy. Mistake #2, when a consulate's web site asks for a Financial Guarantee in the form of bank statements from your parents along with a letter signed and notarized stating they will support you for a certain amount of cash every month while you're abroad, do not assume that a letter sent to you from your program with big bold letters stating FINANCIAL GUARANTEE on top, and explaining that there's no need for parents to support you because a tuition has already been paid and you'll be living in a home stay will suffice. Because in fact it will not. The consulate really does want those bank statements and that letter, even if it isn't exactly truthful. Go figure? So a few of my forms got sent back to Colorado to Mom, another actual stroke of luck since she was the one who had to compile the missing documents and send them all back to LA. So the latest news is that she has sent them back to LA and hopefully they've made it by now. If I'm lucky my visa will make it back to me by December 22nd when my flight is currently scheduled to leave. If I'm not lucky I'll change my flight back a week or two depending on how unlucky I feel and my family's holiday travel plans, and I should be able to have my visa in time to leave by Jan. 6th so I can be on time for my orientation week, we get to go on field trips! Around FRANCE! If you can't tell by the exclamation points, I'm excited about this. Despite all this negative rocky started-ness, I can't wait to go, I just wish I knew for certain when I was leaving.

In case I leave and don't end up coming around with the family to see everyone, and also to those of you I probably won't see anyway, Have a very Merry Christmas and the next time you hear from me I'll be across an ocean!