The Journey Begins..
International travel, cultural immersion, faraway adventures that become lifelong memories and morning espresso amidst centuries old plazas that still evoke elegance from a past life. These concepts often seem impractical, unattainable, and - forgive me for this one - completely foreign.
I've forever entertained wistful daydreams of distant countries, followed more travel accounts on Instagram than I can count and dreamt of time spent lost in foreign cities. But the reality of that kind of travel always seemed too elusive and expensive for me.
The unfathomable became real with the arrival of my passport. In three short weeks, I'm leaving to spend two months in Lyon, France, infamously known as the 'World Capital of Gastronomy' and situated happily in the southeastern corner of the country, at the base of the Alps.
After years of pining for an opportunity like this, and long hours of waiting tables to be able to fund it when it happened, I finally get to put my hours of French classes and innate infatuation with the country to use by by studying the langauge, immersed in the culture, and living in what I can only imagine will end up being a cherished place.
As a student at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, I have the opportunity to participate in a faculty-led exchange program with Université Lumière Lyon II, for a six week french language intensive. Each student will be placed with their own host family for the duration of the program.
One professor, and 10 students including myself, will jet out of Kansas City on June 2nd, flying overnight aboard American Airlines flight AA2097, seat 22D (I've cleverly edited my seat choice three times to ensure an entire row to myself) to arrive bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for a weekend in Paris, before the start of our summer school session.
After six weeks of what I expect to be "classes" and "studying" rather than classes and studying, the adventure will only sweeten. Isabel, one of my newfound friends and I will travel by train to Barcelona for a colorful week of tapas, Gaudí architecture, and music. Afterward we'll follow through on what started as a harebrained scheme and eventually developed in to a decisive plan (that our parents will definitely lose sleep over); we'll catch a rickety little plane and fly over the Straight of Gibraltar for sweltering week in Marrakech, Morocco.