As the holidays cheer winds down, I find myself trying to wrap my head around the fact that in 11 days and 15 hours (hey, thanks, countdown on my desktop) I will be leaving Boston’s International Airport for Paris. PARIS. The city of light, tall pointy towers, and baguettes. Preparation for this mind-boggling french adventure is no easy feat. It mandates strict adherence to what I have dubbed the “Can’t Believe It’s Paris Checklist”. Suitably corny, I know, thank you.
1. Post often on friends’ Facebooks and ensure to send them cheery, loving holiday texts. This is crucial. What many may not realize until they board the plane is that you will be absent from school for four to five months. Months. That means that you will be missing out on all of the group meals, late-night movie nights, big social events, and even the brain-busting bonding of all-night Swem sessions. It is of the utmost importance, therefore, to take advantage of these last few weeks with American cell-phone service to remind your friends that you exist before you begin swirling into the black hole of study abroad adventures and photos wherein you are preoccupied with exciting and exotic explorations…
2. Have a room with ten times as many things as you can actually fit into an airplane-approved suitcase. Because, honestly, who wants to spend time over break catching up with friends and family? I would much rather dedicate that time to stressing my hair out over how many pairs of sweatpants and leggings I can stuff into the infinitesimally small volume of that Air France-approved luggage. And I suppose I should try and fit in some business clothing for my internship and important things like laptops as well…? I never realized how much I depend upon for daily survival until I tried to pack it into airplane luggage. How to condense four months into one bag?!? These are the really important questions you must face.
3. Think really hard about going for a run. Gotta (pretend to) start the European semester off right, eh? And, as we all know, it’s the thought that really counts.
4. Start dropping as many French words into daily conversation as possible. Not only will this remind people that you are extremely cultured and can speak an exotic, sexy language, but it also reminds them that you are about to depart on the adventure of a lifetime. Ideally do this until your family starts starts speaking to you in haughty mocking voices and calling you pedantic (they were really attached to that one scene in Midnight in Paris…). But don’t fear, because you know that dropping an occasional “oui” or “bien sur” is, obviously, essential preparation if you want to achieve fluency in French by the time that you leave. Bonus points if you can include references to Picasso, Hemingway, or the French Revolution. Liberté, fraternité, egalité for all!
5. Stalk the hell out of this city. If you have not watched every CNN Travel special, Food Network feature, and read every single article and blog concerning Paris before you depart, you are doing excitement wrong. You should also have finagled a list of your fellow study abroad students and creeped all of them thoroughly on Facebook. You are spending a semester in the most beautiful city in the world. The city of lights, the city of love! If you are not obsessed, you may as well box up that beret and french dictionary for good.