France Checklist

My mother and me exploring the Washington beaches, once upon a time ago.
My mother and me exploring the Washington beaches, once upon a time ago.

I can’t believe it’s been a week since I’ve posted on here! Life has been crazy hectic, per usual. But I think the real culprit is me having my head up in the clouds too much. So, since my mind has decided to ground itself for this slice of the evening, I’ve decided to catch you all up on what’s happened this week.

Medical Certificate

This week I went and had my “I’m not dying or trying to carry the plague to your country” checkup, which is required before you can apply for your French Visa. I’m happy to say the diagnosis was that I’m normal – physically, anyway.

Awaiting DIRECCTE Approval:

All of my paperwork is officially in! Now, all I have is to do is wait for the DIRECCTE (the local government in the French city I’ll be living in) to approve it and I’ll be ready to apply for my Visa. I’m so excited, and I can’t believe how much work it’s been to get to this point. Here’s to working your butt off just to be able to APPLY to live in France.

SIFF: French movies

Chinese puzzle

The Seattle International Film Festival is happening right now – my favorite time of the year! I saw this film last weekend with two of my friends and we absolutely loved it! It was witty, well written and the actors were phenomenal. There was one part of the movie when everyone in the theater was laughing so hard you couldn’t even hear anything on the screen. Definitely one of the best movies I’ve seen this year – a must see.

Mood Indigo

This film I’m going to go see next week and I can’t wait. Not only are Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris some of my favorites, I love the overall whimsy of this storytelling style. I can’t wait!

Official Acceptance Letter

Last week I got accepted into The University of Orleans and this week I got my official acceptance letter, which was so exciting! I can’t believe I’m going back to college. I know it’s going to be a challenge but (if I’m totally honest) I’m so excited to be a student, again!

Anthony Bourdoin: Parts Unknown

BourdainCNN

This series has been my absolute favorite this past week. It’s produced by CNN and is as much a series about culture and global perspective as it is about food. I’ve loved watching it and getting whisked away to different parts of the globe. My favorite episode is about Quebec, mainly because that’s where my French obsession began when I was there for my 9th birthday. Two seasons are on Netflix now, so if you have access I would highly recommend watching a couple of episodes. My only warning is: Have a healthy snack nearby, because you’re going to want to eat your entire kitchen after each episode.

Belle et Le Bete

I CANNOT WAIT TO SEE THIS MOVIE. And, weirdly enough, it has nothing really to do with the movie itself. I’m just so excited to see the cinematography, costumes and sets that I’m about ready to cry. Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But I AM really excited.

Tangible Dreams

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My feet and Rattlesnake Ridge, WA

There’s something beautiful about tangibility.

Call me a romantic, but I love the feeling of feeling.

I love getting ink on my fingers while I’m thumbing through the NY Times. I love pounding down the keys of a vintage typewriter. I love running my fingers over the hand tooled leather of my favorite bag, or turning the pages of a vintage book.

There’s just something about being able to touch and feel, that makes things more real.

Yesterday, I got an acceptance letter to the University of Orleans, in France. I was excited beyond words to get the email, but I couldn’t help slightly mourning that I wouldn’t be able to rip into the letter when it arrived in the mail. That being said, I’m so extremely excited, I think I can overlook missing the experience.

And anyway, next week I’ll have a scan of the original acceptance letter, and I fully intend on running through the streets waving it like a child high on 4th of July parade candy. It shall be glorious.

Getting into the university I wanted comes with a lot of emotions – something my Norwegian roots are not used to and, frankly, have no idea how to process.

Mainly, because this is the first time I’ve really wanted to get into a university. Most of my life my parents have decided which school I would go to, and I’ve never questioned their decision-making. Even the college I went to for my BA was the same one my brother and mom graduated from.

Applying to the Université D’Orleans was the first independent choice in my education, and it feels wonderful. Think kid riding their bike without training wheels for the first time: completely thrilling, mildly terrifying and ridiculously liberating.

I’ve wanted to study abroad since I can remember. But when I was in college, it was ridiculous to even think about. Since I was on an accelerated track for graduating, there was the issue of time (I was only at the university for two years, instead of four), and there was also the huge issue of financial accessibility.

My school promised to match the tuition being spent at their campus, but since that would still have been about $40,000 (without scholarships) and with an added cost of living expenses in Europe, it was just not plausible.

So I tucked that dream away. And, honestly, I forgot about it. I forgot how much I wanted to study abroad when I was in college. How weird is that? A teenager who wants to go to school as much as possible. But every time one of my friends would announce that they were going off to whatever country they were planning on studying in, I remember being slightly ridiculously jealous.

Now, in the true nature of my life, I’m finding a roundabout way of accomplishing a dream that has unexpectedly resurfaced out of nowhere. Normality doesn’t run in my timeline.

God looks at my plans and says, “Haha. Yeah – how about this, instead?”

And the thing is, it’s always so much better than what my plans were, or could have ever been. Here I am getting ready to study at a university for an entire year, instead of only a semester. Rather than amassing more debt than I can ever pay off, I’m getting paid while I’m studying. AND I get to live with an amazing French family the whole time. Call it cliché (French word – woot!), but I feel so blessed right now.

Even though this whole process has been/is going to be filled with ups and downs, stress and hard work, laughing and crying, it’s one of those mountains that’s worth climbing in order to reach the amazing view.

Although it might not be the way I had it planned (there’ve been a few more rocks and potholes on this trail than I had anticipated), I’m learning that, sometimes, it’s the unconventional paths that reward us with the greatest experiences.

Intangible and seemingly impossible dreams can (and do) become tangible realities. Sometimes, you just have to find a different way of climbing.

‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’
declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.’ 

Isaiah 55:8-9

Boldly Going Where No Man Has Gone Before

The window view from where I stayed in London.
The window view from where I stayed in London.

Have you ever done one of those trust fall exercises, where someone stands behind you and you roll back on your heels, hoping they’ll catch you before you meet the floor? Me neither. Because I think they’re mildly pointless and dangerous.

But, I think they happen to be the best illustration for how I feel this week. Yesterday was an extremely exciting day because I sent in my application for a French university. Hopefully, I would be attending the school starting this fall and throughout the time I’m living in France (fingers crossed!).

Initially, when I got my au pair position, I hadn’t thought about going to a university. It wasn’t in my budget, and I thought I’d probably just look for a short and sweet 10 weeklong program instead. Taking some kind of French language/culture courses, as an au pair, are required by law – but they don’t have to be at a university.

When the family I’ll be living with suggested the University of Orleans, I started to question my strategic “easy button” on educating myself while I was there.

There are two options at the Universitaire D’Orleans. You can either attend for one semester and stop, or you can attend for two and then graduate with a French certificate stating you are qualified for whatever a French language certificate qualifies you for.

At first I thought, “Cheaper option – duh.” And started filling out my application for one semester. But then, as the deadline got closer, I started to feel uneasy. It didn’t feel right taking the “easy way” out and not completing the program. And that little inner voice wouldn’t give me peace about it AT ALL.

So, instead, I changed my application over to the one-year program. Instantly I felt better. Having made the insane decision, I started looking at the numbers, because that’s what I always do. They don’t add up. Like I said before, attending college wasn’t in my plan when I decided to move to France.

But, then again, moving to France wasn’t in my plan when I decided to move to France, either.

While I was visiting my grandparents this Easter my grandma stopped me on the stairs, as I was leaving, and asked me, “Have you prayed about this [moving to France]? Do you have peace about it?”

Like most of my family members, she’s worried. I will be the first girl in my family to live abroad, and one of the first to have been to Europe. It’s foreign territory, and scary to think about, when I ask my family for their blessing.

But, when my grandma asked me that question, I was able to stand there, smiling slightly, and answer with confidence, “Yes.” I have total peace. Total confidence in where I’m going and what I’m doing. Does that mean I’m not terrified? No.

But, amidst the chaotic feelings to dig a hole and hide, I have a “peace that surpasses understanding”(Phil 4:7) aka peace that makes absolutely no logical sense.

I have no idea how I’m going to afford living in France for a year. How I’m going to pay student loans, and other expenses, when my living stipend is less than a quarter of what I make right now. I don’t know how I’m going to afford going to college for a year, when it would be smarter to go for a semester and call it good.

All I know is that I’m called to risk greatly. To step out into unknown territory. To boldly go where no man has gone before – kidding (Trekkie nerd alert).

Right now, I’m stepping out into something that could turn out to be crazy. I am risking greatly, following an inner guide who has never failed me before.

It doesn’t make sense. Maybe nothing worth succeeding at ever does. But right now I just have to fall, trusting that, seconds before I hit the floor, I’ll be reminded that someone had my back the entire time.

London, England
London, England