Jackie in Switzerland: T-minus 1 Week

Bonjour à tous! I’m Jackie and this semester I’ll be blogging through a (hopefully) amazing semester at the Université de Lausanne in Switzerland! I’m a sophomore at the University of Richmond, and I’m majoring in International Studies; World Politics and Diplomacy and French.

I leave in a week for Lausanne to start with a pre-semester language course to get my brain working in French mode again. I promise I know French, which is kind of important since I will later be taking all of my regular classes with Swiss students, entirely in French. My actual classes don’t start until February 16th, so at least by that time I’ll be more comfortable with the campus and the city. I’ve only ever been out of the country once in my life- when I studied abroad in France last summer. That experience only lasted a month, but it was the best month of summer I have ever spent. I can only imagine what incredible things I’ll be doing for 5 whole months in Lausanne.

I haven’t had much time to think about the fact that I am leaving to live in a country that I have never visited before, to study in a language that isn’t my first, and to go there not knowing a single soul. Of course all of the nerves and anticipation kick in the week right before I leave, when everything starts to feel real. I can’t tell if I’m anxious, excited, terrified, or possibly all three at the same time. I’m anxious to see the place where I will be spending all of my time for the next 5 months. I have looked up every picture imaginable and have even Google Mapped my dorm building so I could see what it looks like from the outside. I don’t think that there is a single picture of my host University that I have not seen yet; clearly I have been on winter break for far too long.

I’m excited to return to the wonderful, magnificent, beautiful thing that is French bread. Baguettes are possibly my favorite thing on the planet, and I fully intend to eat one, or two, everyday while I am in Switzerland and I will not think twice about it. Aside from the food, I cannot wait to be in a country that speaks French again, I miss speaking it and I can’t wait to get better. There’s something really cool about studying a language and then getting to actually use it someday, especially since all of my classes are in French (this is where the terrifying part sets in).

For weeks I have been asking myself, “what if the classes are too hard?”, “how are you going to keep up with actual Swiss students?”, and the worst of all “are you sure you really know French?” I am clearly obsessing, but I think that’s okay because part of the whole study abroad experience is jumping into the uncomfortable and figuring out how to handle it. Going to a country that speaks a different language can be intimidating, but going in head-first is the best way to learn. So here I go!

P.S. I didn’t talk about packing in this post, even though it’s something that is very difficult in preparing to study abroad. This is because the task is so hard that I have not started it yet! Procrastination is for more than just schoolwork.

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