Reflections at Gate 23

I was about 10 or 11 years old the last time that I went to Paris. I think. My strongest memory from that family vacation to visit “my auntie in Europe” was losing my Gameboy SP (along with my Pokemon themed black game bag with a few GBA games in it) on a tour bus. I was distraught for days. Little Christopher didn’t care much about the old buildings and cobblestone streets, though I do remember liking the Effiel tower. There’s a picture of me and my older brother smiling on standing on some part of the structure. Seconds after the picture is taken, he pinches the back of my arm and I yelp so loudly that I’m sure someone heard me from a thousand feet below.

I took my first French class in 7th grade, mostly because I didn’t want to take Spanish since that’s what the majority of the people in my middle school took and I was an anxious kid who didn’t want to do what most other people did. I didn’t really care much for the French language aside from some vague interest in artsy films. Truthfully, I didn’t really give a shit about learning French until 10th grade when I was in French 3. I ended up making it all the way through AP French senior year, where I even managed to pass the AP exam.

I have two (academic) regrets from college so far, the first being that I didn’t drop Honors Calc 1 in the first week, and the second being that I didn’t continue with French courses in my first semester. In fact, I didn’t take a French class in college until my sophomore fall where I made a solid B in Intermediate because I despised the professor who was a terrible teacher and I half-assed all the work. Sophomore spring was better though, I took Reading 1 and got to explore a bunch of literature from all over Francophone diaspora. I also had my first class with my favorite French professor at Temple, who I would get to know pretty well the following spring semester. My junior fall was a mess but I got better at writing in French in Composition 1. However, with everything else going on, I didn’t really start to give a shit about seriously improving my French skills until my junior spring, where I took Advanced Grammar and a literature course at the same time (back to back on the same days even). Professor Thomas really pushed me to try harder on my assignments, and while I was a bit of a brat about it, I improved a good deal by the end.

Sometime over winter break, prior to my junior spring, I decided that I wanted to actually finish my French secondary major, and instead of graduating early, I would study abroad my senior fall. However, I wanted to do a program that would be more interesting than simply French language and literature courses, so I looked around until I found one through CIEE that would let me take Sociology and Critical Theory courses in French, as well as a contemporary French literature course or two. That being said, I don’t like to cost my parents more money than is reasonable, so I made a very complicated spreadsheet with a bunch of scholarships and budget information with the intention of getting my entire semester paid for. All things considered, I believe ended up getting $18k towards my semester abroad from various scholarship and grant sources. My neuroses often manifest in making me extremely competent at long term planning.

And so that brings me to Gate 23 in the Philadelphia International Airport, typing this blog post next to a very handsome bearded Frenchman taking a business call. He smells like cedar and honey, which might be some sort of trendy beard oil fragrance. I’m fairly nervous, as I’ll be living abroad for almost four months, taking courses at two (or three) different French institutions, and living with a homestay family. Well I’m not nervous about the homestay, they live in Le Marais which is the Very Gay district of Paris. My housing coordinator really took that paragraph I wrote about being gay seriously in my placement form. Thanks Lucie, you really did that sis!

I’ll arrive at Charles De Gaulle just after 8 AM local time. I’m so excited for this adventure, and hopefully I’ll be diligent in my blogging efforts.

À la prochaine mes amis…

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