8/31/08

Bon Voyage

Tonight is my last night in my own room for the next nine months. It's amazingly messy; I'm almost completely packed, and there is still a large amount of stuff strewn about. My suitcases (two, weighing up to 50 pounds each - efficient packing should be a competitive sport) are mostly full of clothing and medications; my carry-on bag contains my laptop, a folder full of important papers (if anyone wanted to steal my identity, it's all right there, conveniently packaged), and sundry travel paraphernalia (e.g. iPod, gummy snacks). The Euros/travelers checks/passport/train ticket are all traveling on my body. And that's pretty much all I'm taking. One of my beds is still covered in clothes (the "no" pile and remnants of the "maybe;" the "yes" pile went into my suitcase); my desk is still full of stationery; my bookshelf is untouched; my dresser displays all but my favorite jewelry. It doesn't really look like I'm leaving. If you ignore the large suitcases on my floor, that is.

After all the preparations for traveling abroad I've been making for the past months, it will be a relief to finally get there, although I'm by no means finished with paperwork. The French are entirely too fond of it. Although I have my long-stay visa, I'll need to apply for a residency permit once I get there, which requires a medical exam and a €55 stamp (which I'm quite curious about). According to the Poitiers transportation website, I need an identity photo in order to get a bus pass for the academic year. I'll need to obtain a French cell phone as soon as possible (in the meantime, I'll be incurring international roaming charges of $1.49 a minute - very short conversations), though I haven't decided between a year-long contract and the pay-as-you-go plans. The normal logistics of college life all seem much more intimidating when conducted in a foreign language.

However, I'm looking forward to meeting my host family and beginning orientation. From the research I've done on Poitiers, it seems like it will be a nice city to live in. The next 18 hours or so, and the leave-taking they entail, seem like the most frightening part of the whole experience. Hopefully that's a good sign, and when next you hear from me, I will be well on the way to immersing myself in la vie poitevine