Pre-exchange thoughts

The clock is ticking.

Today is the seventh of February… on the fifteenth, I’ll be boarding a plane for the first time and flying to Paris.

I’m going to experience so many firsts! This will not only be my first time on a plane- it’ll be my first time overseas, my first time out-of-country*, and my first time away from my family for more than a week. I feel as any dewy-eyed, bursting-with-naïvité teen would; thrilled, hopeful, and anxious, all at once.

I mean, what if I get there and can’t understand anything- at all? I’ve made it a goal to complete Duolingo’s French tree before I leave, but it may just go in one ear and out the other. What if my host parents totally hate me, or the teachers yell at me, or the plane crashes? What if I get kicked out of class for accidentally saying ‘tu’ instead of ‘vous’? What if I find no time to do any homework and fail all of my classes? What if there’s a shooting at the airport? What if the Mediterranean floods all the way up to Grenoble? There’s a thousand things racing through my head about what could go wrong.

Luckily enough, though, it’s not too hard to quell this anxiety. If I act moment-to-moment and remember my trademark Canadian politeness, I should be fine. All of those things listed above could go very well, too- I might come home speaking great French! Maybe the teachers will be thrilled to have me in their classes, and my host parents will want to adopt me! Ultimately, I suppose, the future is entirely unknowable, so for now I’ll content myself with the comforts of hearth and home before my departure.

My mother and I took advantage of the bus cancellations today (hooray for snow days!) and went to Belleville to complete my packing list, and got a Samsung J1 phone for about $150 CAD from Staples.** Apparently I need to buy a SIM card in Europe for it to work.

I also bought a book for the flight at Chapters: ‘I am Malala’, by Malala Yousafzai. I should have read it ages ago, but it’s better late than never, eh? I’ll try to complete my current book, ‘Super Brain’ by Deepak Chopra and Rudolph Tanzi, before I leave. I’ve loaded a few books onto my e-reader as well.

After searching online for ethical companies, I decided to get running shoes from Under Armour. I’m still not entirely sure how conscious of the environment and human rights the brand is, but there were a variety of websites singing high praise of the company. Nike, on the other hand, is cursed throughout the web, so I was sure to steer clear of the victory swoop.

This weekend I plan on acquiring a visa and some extra pairs of underwear, and then I’ll be ready to go! Look out France- here I come!

*My first time out of country for more than fifteen minutes, that is. I once went on a brief walk through Maine with my family while on a trip to the East coast.

**Maybe it’s just a product of my self-interested teenage worldview, but I really don’t understand why people pay $600 for new phones when ones like these work just as well. I mean, it can call, text, take decent pictures, access the internet, and host all of the same apps- is there really a huge difference?


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