By: Alexa Wybraniec
I ran twelve miles this morning.
When I’m running, I think up little mantras and repeat them inside my head. Today I thought, “Resolutions can happen whenever I want.”
I decided to change my life last spring, right in the thick of 2013. Running twelve miles this morning was absolutely not affiliated with January 1, 2014. The first time I finished a twelve-miler (a week ago) I signed up for a half marathon and spent the rest of the day confused. I thought, “I don’t know anything, it’s not possible for me to run twelve miles, I can’t do that. But I did it, so nothing makes sense, and I don’t know anything for sure anymore.”
I still think that, and it’s kinda nice. Applying that mindset to my future in Paris is the most liberating feeling on earth.
My lifestyle change has proved efficient. I earned my straight As this semester, and now I’m taking a winter class online. When summer rolls around, I’ll pick up a summer class. These are the small sacrifices I need to make in order to study abroad and graduate on time because core requirements cannot be fulfilled abroad. It’s not so bad, really, because I genuinely love learning new things. I’ve clearly got a handle on how to do the whole college thing in the States, but will that hold up in France?
I need to start thinking about, well, everything. I had a relaxing break, full of gift-giving, hikes and Chipotle trips, but having class everyday grounded me mentally. The new year, while insignificant, inevitably inspires forward-thinking.
My favorite presents received over break include:
- Victoria Trott’s “Paris City Guide”
- Aurelia D’Andrea’s “Living Abroad in France”
- a 2014 Parisian calendar
- luggage tags
- RFID-blocking neck pouch
- detachable silk bra pocket
- cold, hard cash (to be transformed into Euros ASAP)
The neck pouch claims its “special blocking material prevents high tech identity thieves from downloading and stealing personal information stored on micro chips in your passport and credit cards.” I don’t know any high tech identity thieves but hey, now I have somewhere to store my passport, keys, cash, and whatever else I may be wary about toting around in a foreign city. The bra pocket seems to be the better option for a less “hey-look-at-me-I’m-a-tourist” ensemble.
I’ve started paging through the travel guides, and just when I thought I couldn’t be more excited, here I am. I can already see myself reading some sections within the next few days (“Social Climate,” “History,” “Food”), which sections I’ll reference over the next few months (“Preparing to Leave,” “What to Bring,” “Sample Itineraries”) and the sections I’ll pour over in my bedroom once I get there (“French Phrasebook,” “Travel and Transportation,” “Daily Life”).
I’ve been talking to a lot of people (pretty much anyone I come in contact with/anyone who will listen) about studying abroad. Absolutely everyone over the age of 50 is simply dazzled by my plans. Better yet, almost everyone over the age of 50 is more traveled than I am. I’ve had some great conversations over break so far, with so many family gatherings and that general amicable feeling of the holiday season.
Some of the best advice that stuck with me, while not the most original, went something like, “If I could do it all over again, I’d have traveled the world while I had the chance. Now, I’ve got a wife, kids, and a mortgage to pay.” This is exactly my thought process when I wake up in the morning. I turned twenty recently, and I’d rather not waste the potentially best years of my life. I’m in my best condition, both physically and mentally, right now.
I like to tell people that I’m moving to Paris next year. Now, I get to say I’m moving to Paris THIS year. Let the life-changing begin!
About the author:
Alexa Wybraniec is a journalism major at Rutgers University. She is going to be studying abroad in Paris at Sciences- Po for a year starting in the fall semester of 2014. Check back every Monday for a new post from Alexa. You can connect with her via Twitter.