Okay, I should 100% be studying right now.  On the other hand I studied for like 10 hours straight yesterday so I’m over it.

I’ll just get straight to it, this blog post is titled “Progress” simply because I, like many others, want 2017 to be a year of progress.  Progress in the sense that I visit more countries or meet more new and interesting people.  Progress in my french language skills.  Progress in getting past the awkward.  Everyone who has studied abroad before can tell you that one of the many feats an international student has to overcome is just getting past those beginning awkward phases.

Here’s what I’ve been up to

Life has become pretty regular lately.  I’m currently in that exam week/month slump where my eyes go blurry while reading and I live off of peanut butter, coffee, and rice cakes.  Okay so I have been doing some fun things lately.  I’ve spent the last 16 consecutive days in Belgium.  This is apparently some type of record because I cannot remember the time I stayed in this country for that long.  That’ll all change soon enough!

I was lucky enough to experience a Ghentian NYE and this city did not disappoint.  New Years was interesting because a lot of my European friends were able to escape back to their respective home countries for the entire holiday.  I did ring in the New Year with two of my very close friends and we had an absolute ball.  It was a very crusty and college-y new years, but still super fun, nonetheless.

New years day was bomb as well.  The featured photo above is the 4 pm brunch my french bestie, Ana, and I crafted to celebrate the new year.  Like every basic female, brunch is usually first priority on Sunday mornings and we decided to go all out.  So many amazing versions of toast on one table!

New year, new country!

Oh and four days after the beginning of 2017, I moved to France.  What?!?  Yep that’s right, the Belgian chapter of this story is coming to a close and I will begin my semester at Audencia School of Management in less than three weeks!  This is something I’m really excited about because Nantes is one of the absolutely coolest cities on this continent.  I began the moving process by taking six hours worth of trains across the entire country of France.  I packed only one suitcase full of random clothes, nick nacks, shoes, etc to bring with me on my first ride down.  This hopefully will alleviate half the stress I’ll have when I make the actual move.

This super not fun journey actually takes forever.

I’d say my trip to Nantes showed great signs of progress because there were many times when I could have (SHOULD HAVE) wimped out but I didn’t.  I sucked it up and dealt with the cards I was given.  I had an hour layover in Paris.  I also had to switch train stations from the north-most (that’s a word in the English language, right?) to a more centralized train station.  Okay no problem, except is was a huge problem because Paris is huge.  The route to the second train station wasn’t the most ideal.  I found myself luggage my suitcase through random side streets.  Of course, I use my phone for every type of navigation and it told me that I had to catch a metro at this exact time, or I’d miss my train.  Okay no pressure at all.  Let me just run through the streets of Paris looking like a lunatic.  I mean, that’s basically what I did.  This is 100% true, I speed-walked on the metro as the doors were closing, fast speed-walked up like a bazillion flights of steps at the train station and then basically ran onto my train from Paris to Nantes. I swear I’m usually not like this.  I could have wimped out and splurged for an Uber, but I think a girl who decides she is going to move her life across an entire country (again) should probably deal with this type of stuff.

The second time I wanted to wimp out was the second I arrived in Nantes.  Wait, what?  I don’t know my way around here?  How does this tram system work?  How do I order an extra large coffee with a shot of espresso in French?!?  So many issues at hand.  Again, I definitely could have caught a taxi from the train station to my place, which was a fifty minute walk!  Instead I figured out the tram system in a jiffy (thanks to Google Maps, of course) and went on my way.  I show up at my building ready to crash for a few hours, but guess what, I had absolutely no power.  No heat, no electric, no hot water.  I guess I didn’t call the electric company in time.  Okay, time to wimp out.  I could have bought some candles and extra blankets and roughed it, but I took the hotel room for the night option.

The next day was spent exploring the city, buying essentials like toilet paper, and finding coffee shops.  I really enjoyed the different atmosphere of Nantes.  I forgot how much I loved french culture, it’s also nice to understand things when people speak their native tongue.  I met up with a friend from BG for dinner and we explored more of our new home together!

I was scheduled to be back in Ghent the next day.  My journey back home was everything I hoped it wouldn’t be.  First strike: the tram system suddenly decided to be super slow (in my opinion) and I was forced to speed walk through yet another train station and literally jump onto the train before departure.  This train was nice though, it took me all the way from Nantes to Lille (small city right outside the Belgian border) so I was almost home.  Unfortunately I spent more time in Lille than I wanted to.  I originally had only like a 45 minute layover, except EVERY SINGLE TRAIN from Lille to Belgian was cancelled.  I was absolutely terrified.  How was I supposed to get home?  I really wish I had my car right now!  Why isn’t anyone else freaking out? This phenomenon occurred for three straight hours as I mooched the station McDonald’s wifi trying not to cry.  Just kidding, it actually wasn’t too bad.  I could have wimped out and got a nice cosy room for the night, except I guess I dealt with it.  Long story short, I caught a train after sitting at the station for six hours and I arrived home after 9 hours of travel.  Wow.

Good News

I finally received my French student Long Stay Visa!  That’s one HUGE thing I can check off my to-do list.  I traveled to Brussels last Monday, turned over my passport to the consular, and spent the rest of the day studying in a cute little juice bar.  So it’s officially official, now. Next on the to-do list is getting a French Bank account so I can actually pay for rent and electric, you know, the things normal adults do from time to time.

Looking Forward

Besides studying for exams, packing up my room, and saying my last set of goodbyes to my friends over here, I really don’t have that much on my agenda until the big move.

I am traveling for the first time since Christmas to Dublin, Ireland next Monday!

Oh, and I turn twenty-one in four days.  My European friends have been really awesome with treating this birthday as special as if I were in the states, and I cannot appreciate them enough!

Gros Bisous,

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