This post has been almost two years in the making, and only really started to take shape a few months ago, when yet someone else was asking me
Are you excited to move to France?
Do you know where you’re going yet?
Wait, you’re not going to be working at Vogue anymore?
The answer to all of those questions is no. Right now, I don’t want to talk about it. The main reason that I chose to study a language at uni was for the year abroad, and now that it’s on the horizon I can’t think of anything worse. Let me plant my heels firmly in the Yorkshire soil and please don’t tear me from my shitty student house in Leeds.
For everyone who’s about to embark on a year abroad, settle in: it’s about to get real.
The closer it gets, the more the illusion fades, y’know? Suddenly, my dream of living in a très mignon little apartment in Montmartre, buying fresh croissants, sipping espresso on my balcony as the sun rises behind the Sacre Cœur, taking the metro to the Vogue Paris offices and dazzling all my fashionable and attractive colleagues with my flawless French, doesn’t seem so realistic. Suddenly, I see myself struggling to navigate the French countryside to find my cramped new home, stammering half-forgotten French at strangers and praying that the kids at school don’t make fun of me as I try to live and work in another language, TOTALLY ALONE. Suddenly, I feel very scared and very aware of how unprepared I am for this year abroad.
And, speaking on a personal note, this past year at university has been the best year of my life. I’ve gotten closer with the people already in my life and met new ones who are now really important to me. I’ve had some of my greatest personal achievements, discovered more about the city I love, and finally felt like everything, for the first time, was all starting to fit together. And now? I’m expected to drop it all and move to France on the vague promise of some employment and life experience. Leave everyone behind, as they continue to live and love and party in Leeds.
Don’t mind me, if you need me I’ll be repeating “veux-tu aller prendre un café?” in front of the mirror.
I’m sorry if you’ve made it this far and I’ve bummed you out. These are all the things that are racing through my mind on a daily basis, as I anxiously count down. These are my thoughts from the brink of a year abroad. But do you know what I remind myself?
- How lucky I am that I have this opportunity in the first place.
- How grateful I am for the people already in my life and all their support.
- How glad I am to know that just because I’ll be in France for 6 months, doesn’t mean anyone is going to disappear (myself included).
- How much I love the smallness of our world in the 21st century.
- How excited I am to have the opportunity to meet at least some of the SUAG team when I get there (about time amirite).
And of course, there are a million other things to be grateful for, including some that I’m not even aware of yet. It doesn’t make the sadness and anxieties go away, but it does offer some comfort. Those of you who have already done a year abroad may read this with a smile, recognising yourself in this neuroses and knowing now how well it will all turn out. Those of you who haven’t done one yet, or are thinking about it, might be able to relate to all of this and more.
This isn’t a guide. This isn’t a story with a moral. This is a stream of consciousness. I don’t have any answers for anyone else out there who’s daunted by the year abroad in front of them, I’m just putting myself out there in the knowledge that I might sound crazy, but in the hope that some can relate. And it’s not that I don’t believe that my year abroad will be as exciting and enriching as everyone says, it’s just that right now it feels too much to take in.
But don’t worry. When I find myself sipping on an Aperol spritz on a spring Montpellier evening, I’ll be sure to re-visit this post knowing what I will know then.
Drop your year abroad hints, tips, stories & anxieties in the comments. Let’s take advantage of our lil online community!