I can’t believe it. I am going to live in Europe for four months. “Am I dreaming?” The anxiety kicks in, the excitement grows, and the goodbyes begin.
I am Katherine Velez, an International Relations Student with a minor in French at UT. I am also a first generation student who just barely got the hang of regular university, and now I’m taking on the challenge of leaving to study in Aix-en-Provence, France. My family thinks I’m crazy and to be honest, I think I am too, but this is a trip of a lifetime and it would not be possible without all the help of my advisor in the International office, a chance at scholarships, and the support of my loved ones.
But wait. I now have one week before I leave and I’m supposed to pack everything in one suitcase for a four-month trip? Youtube had my back on that one for sure and getting to the point I am now was not all easy either. Being the first in my family to take on a challenge like this was very stressful. There were a lot of questions and a lot of researching before I made my decision to study abroad for a whole semester. All I knew is that I had my goals and I was finally brave enough to take the leap and GO! Just go! That’s all you have to keep saying to yourself rather than say, “I wish I could go on a trip like that” or “I can’t just leave”. Yes, you can! If not now, then when will you ever?
What pushed me to make this all happen, is my ultimate goal. My goal for this trip is to become fluent in my third language and COMPLETELY immerse myself in this new culture. I chose to learn French as my third language so it will be beneficial towards my career plan. I am going to help refugees seeking asylum and help immigrants better assimilate into our country. Already knowing Spanish helps me tremendously but I also want to reach another population. There are over 115 million people in Africa who speak French, mainly as a second language. (Philip Seifi, On Africa’s lips) Why shouldn’t I learn French as my third language then?
So, the countdown gets closer, and the nerves kick in… I can guarantee that once you sit in your seat for that long haul flight, you can stop stressing. You completed the hardest part that most people can’t do. You got on a plane to your new destination. The way I got through it all is to take everything one step at a time.
Next thing you know, you’re going… you’re going… and you’re gone!
This post was contributed by Katherine Velez, a 2018 Global Ambassador.
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