Even though I’ve been here over two months (went by fast, right?) I still have my “Wait, I’m in France?” moments. Especially when I realized that this past Saturday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, marked one year since I applied to this program. I remember rushing to get my application finished and to the Post Office with my aunt and uncle still in town for the holiday. I wasn’t even sure about my chances of getting in, much less what it would be like to actually go. This summer I had no solid expectations, other than what I thought I would like or miss (and it turns out, I don’t even miss ice that much at all). When people asked me if I was ready, and I would answer about plane tickets or living situations. Now that I’m here I don’t think I really could have imagined or prepared. Other than the physical and practical suitcase-related things, there’s not much you can do to prepare for taking a step like this. You have no idea what it’s going to be like until you’re mid-stride. I think this trip, this job, this experience, (or whatever I should call it) is something you can’t really prepare for, because when you prepare or plan or try to imagine what they’ll be like it never ends up being what you expected, for better or worse. Even little trips and things here tend to change at the last minute. Some of us were joking just today that it’s pointless to plan things because they usually end up changing, though most of the time it’s for the better.
Take this past Thanksgiving for example. I had little expectations (mostly worries) that we wouldn’t have enough food, that my dish would be a bomb, and that our tiny little apartment would be the worst possible venue for a party of at least 15 people. But Friday night was definitely a success! Everyone seemed to like my jambalaya and had a good time, it was a great group of people: Americans, French, British, Swiss, Spanish sharing a meal and having such a nice enough time that no one seemed to mind sitting on the floor. Everyone brought something different to contribute. I took a few pictures to share with my family, since I got to see some of theirs!