So as we all know, in September of this year I will be moving to Paris for a year to study at the Institut Catholique.
I’m going to be honest with you. I’m absolutely terrified. Its a fear gained only through only having a GCSE in French (a goof four years ago) and the prospect of doing all my uni work, friend making and general living in French. It’s safe to say that I am going to absolutely hate my first few weeks.
Despite this lack of linguistic knowledge, the thing I’m most scared of is the fact that I hardly know anything about what I’ll be doing out there.
I know I’ll be studying at a university, that I will have to live somewhere and that I will have to
somehow make friends, but anything above and beyond that is just completely over my head at the moment.
My current degree at Durham is a BA in Theology. This means that while I’m in Paris half of my modules will have to be taken in Theology, the others literally taken from anything and anywhere I want. These ‘other’ 50% are the sole reason for my year abroad: I get to study History of Art in Paris!
There are a few things that I am really not looking forward to.
My 21st Birthday | My 21st falls on the 18th September, just as my term starts in Paris. Great! 21 in Paris! Oh no wait I won’t know anyone, won’t know any French, and won’t know of anywhere to go. I often describe my idea of my 21st to friends as being very similar to Harry’s birthday in the first Harry Potter film – ‘make a wish, Imii’ *blows out birthday cake drawn into the dust* ‘Why not get friends to come out?’ I hear you cry. Imagine inviting all your mates from home to your fresher’s week and talking to them all week instead of making new uni friends. That’s why.
Making Friends | Weirdly, I’m both the most worried and the least worried about this little
REALLY BIG part of life. As I say, my French is not great, really not great. Now I know the English are awful ignorant people and that languages like English are taught to almost fluency in other countries so everyone should know more English then I know French, but, I am not that person. I am not going to be that person who turns up and everyone has to speak English to them. No way. I honestly think that is just the rudest thing I can do. Instead I am going to politely ask for patience and then battle through in GCSE French because that’s just the way its going to be. There is no wiggle room, in my eyes. That said, I’ve never found making friends difficult. I am polite, considerate and have manners. I will find people that like me.
Actual University Stuff | As with all the friend making, all of my uni lectures, essays, seminars, etc., will all be in French (with the exception of maybe a History of Art module or two.) I am terrified. Luckily I only have to pass the year so I should get by, BUT OH MY GOODNESS I AM SO SCARED. Full uni essays in French? Lectures on Theology in French? (I can barely understand Theological terms in English, let alone…) I think this might just be one of those things that I have to just deal with and hope it gets easier. I’m sure it will.
But what about the things I genuinely cannot wait for?
History of Art | This is perhaps the only reason I am going on a year abroad in the first place. I certainly 100% would not have applied had Paris not been on the list of host unis. Art History is my no1 passion in life. My bread and butter of life. I honestly cannot go one day without looking at pictures and crying over the fact that I can’t just give Van Gogh a big hug. (Did you see the Dr Who episode? I cried for a good few hours after watching it. I wish I was joking.) The History of Art Department in Paris is amazing, especially as Durham doesn’t really have one. I can study any art from any time or place by any artist and I JUST CANNOT WAIT I AM SO EXCITED. I really will be living my dream.
All the Classic Paris Stereotypes | I joke that before I go I need to start liking black coffee and cigarettes. As someone brought up in Sussex/Surrey and at uni in the North East, my look is not especially ‘Paris Chic’ – think bleached hair and ugg boots. What do I do? Should I dye my hair brown? Get a bob? Seriously what do I do? I’m actually really looking forward to all the black, white and navy. My hair probably needs a rest anyway. I’m also going to be so awful in my fourth year in Durham with my new French attitude…
Travel | I can travel absolutely everywhere in Europe from Paris. Trains go everywhere. Flights go everywhere. Buses and coaches go everywhere. I’ve already started thinking about trips to Germany and Greece to visit friends also studying abroad, as well as little solo weekend trips to Spain, Poland, wherever! Honestly, the travel possibilities are going to be endless.
There are obviously so many things that I am scared of – natural when moving alone to a new country. However, as numerous as they may be, in quality they don’t hold a torch to all the great things I’m going to experience. Lucky for you, you get to hear all about each one!0