How I Ended Up in France For a Semester

It’s actually a pretty wild story.

At the University of Puget Sound, it is required to submit application to study abroad by January 31 of the year preceding the one that you desire to study abroad. What this means, of course, is that if you want to spend Spring 2016 in a far off country, you better know by the January of 2015. And, if you are anything like me, asking questions about the future up to and including “What are you wearing today for your class in an hour,” “What time do you want to meet up for today,” and “Do you want to go out tonight” result in mostly in blank silences and mild panic.

So, although, I did want to study abroad, in theory, when January 31, 2015 rolled around my head was filled with such problems such as:

  • I don’t even know where I want to go.
  • Do I still want to continue studying French?
  • Do I have to go to France to study French?
  • It’s kinda expensive to study abroad.
  • Shouldn’t I get a job instead?
  • My parents studied abroad and met while studying abroad what if this is a gigantic plot to find my One True Love.
  • Also I can’t do anything they ever did, right???
  • I’m pretty sure my friends will die without me.
  • I still don’t know where I want to go
  • Whoops, there goes the deadline.
  • Nevermind then.

I thought this was the end of the tale.

Obviously, it was not.

The French department at UPS runs a program to study abroad in Dijon each spring. (Most study abroad programs run through some outside body, like SIT or some other ones that I def cannot remember anymore.) It is the French professors who review the applications and decide who gets to go, and it is also the French professors who pull strings to get people who maybe have not done any official paperwork into the program.

I received an email on the last day of school of Spring 2015 from one of the French professors (Salut, Diane) who asked me if I wanted to study abroad in Dijon. After about three seconds of hemming and hawing, I said yes.

What followed was a whirlwind of subverting a lot of school bureaucracy (Merci, Michel)—and then dealing with a lot of French bureaucracy. Honestly, it would take about four blog posts and a lot of censorship to document just how much the process to getting a French visa sucks—and yes, you do need one, for which we may thank George W. Bush.

Anyway, this was just the set-up. In the following weeks, I’ll be covering some of my school-approved (and school-funded) adventures in France.

Because yes, I am now in Dijon.