That’s All Folks!

I’m done. Done with college and done with the dual degree program. I know that I say this all of the time, but I really cannot believe how fast time has passed. When I started college, I was planning on studying abroad for a semester. 1/8 of my college career. Spending a semester abroad is a long time to be away from family, friends, and Elon. So, when I decided to embark on the dual degree program and study abroad for 2 years, 1/2 of my college career, I had the impression that I was leaving for an extremely long period of time and that these 2 year would go on forever.  But here I am, finished with my studies.

I still haven’t quite processed the fact that I’m completely done with university. I know that it’s true, but the end has been anticlimactic. I turned in my thesis, took (and hopefully passed) by retake exam, defended and validated my thesis, and was then done. After I passed my thesis, I was extremely happy and celebrated, but it felt more like a celebration of the validation of my thesis, than a celebration of finishing college. But as more and more people pass their thesis and leave to go pursue the next chapter of their lives, the fact that I’ve finished is becoming more and more real. And soon enough, it will finally hit me that I’m done and that I’ve accomplished the thing that I’ve been striving for so long to complete.

I would like to give my thanks to everyone who’s supported me throughout my college journey, especially during my years in France. Your support does not go unnoticed and is greatly appreciated. I couldn’t have done it without you.

A special thanks as well to my mom and dad for giving me the tools to excel in this program and for allowing me to make my own decisions and follow my dreams.  Thank you!

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bELONging

When I decided to embark on this journey and study in the French Dual Degree program, I knew that I wasn’t going to have the typical 4 year college experience. While I have been a student at Elon for the past 4 years, the last classes I took there were during the spring semester of my sophomore year and the last time I was at Elon as a student was for a few days in August, at the beginning of my senior year. I know that I’ve missed out on some of Elon experiences because of my short time there. I never went to a turning 21 dinner, never went fountain hopping, and was never an upperclassman on campus. The campus has changed so much since I moved abroad. There are buildings I’ve never been in, dining halls I’ve never eaten at, and new dorms where I lived freshman year.

But despite all of these things, I have no regrets about doing this program. While there are many things that I didn’t get to experience at Elon, I got to do a lot in my two years there. I went to countless college coffees, joined marching band, volunteered around campus and in the local community, experienced Cram Jam, won prizes at survival bingo, went on numerous late night cookout runs, and made some amazing friends. And while my last two years of college didn’t include all of the typical Elon experiences, I’ve gotten to do so many things that I would have never been able to do if I hadn’t studied in the Dual Degree program. I’ve lived and studied abroad in France for two years, made friends from all over the world, interned in Paris for six months, traveled around Europe, attended a film festival, had afternoon tea in London, played handbells in Paris, ate gelato in Italy, shopped at Strasbourg’s Christmas market, and learned a second language. Even though life abroad has been very challenging at times, I am extremely grateful to have had this amazing opportunity.

Tomorrow, the class of 2015 is graduating from Elon University. CONGRATULATIONS to everyone who will be graduating! Y’all are amazing! And a special thanks to everyone who has helped make my Elon experience so special. Without my SLC, band, and dual degree families, I would not be where I am today. Thanks for your support, encouragement, and laughter these past 4 years. My Elon experience has been so much better because you were in it.

However, instead of walking across the stage and receiving my diploma with the rest of my class tomorrow, I will be 4,000+ miles away in France. I’ve known for a while that I would not be walking with my class at Elon’s graduation. My semester at NEOMA ends later than Elon’s spring semester and I still have a few more days of undergrad left. But, I still wish that could be there under the oaks tomorrow, graduating and celebrating with everyone at Elon. Nevertheless, Anna, Dre, and I don’t want the distance between us and Elon to prevent us from celebrating graduation. We are headed to explore the nearby city of Troyes so that we can celebrate together while making the most of our remaining time in France.

Elon recently asked seniors to describe their Elon experience in 1 word. The word I would use to describe my Elon experience is incredible. The knowledge, memories, and friends I gained during my time at Elon, both on campus and abroad, will stick with me forever. So, congratulations class of 2015! Here’s to all the great opportunities and roads ahead. Long Live Elon!

Cannes 2014

This post is a year in the making. It was one of my favorite trips that I’ve taken in France and I definitely wanted to include it on my blog. So here is is, my trip to the Cannes 2014 Film Festival.

I was meeting Anna in Cannes for the festival, since we were interning in different cities. Since we only had the weekend there, we left Friday evening after work to make the most out of the short time we had there. I had a direct train from Paris to Cannes and Anna had a few connections to make before getting on the same train. But, her first few trains were running late and we weren’t sure she was going to make all of her connections. I remember freaking out and calling both her and my parents multiple times, trying to figure out what to do. But, everything worked out and she made the train, no problem, and we arrived late that evening in Cannes and headed to our hotel.

The next day, we caught the bus into town to go check out the festival. Cannes is in southern France and borders the mediterranean sea, and part of the film festival is right next to, or on the beach. There was even a free night showing of an older movie on the beach every night!

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While there, we were able to see two films at the festival. Student prices (4 euro tickets!) made it cheaper for us to see movies at this festival, than at a movie theater. The first movie was good and well made, but not exactly my cup of tea. But, the second movie we saw was a Korean film made over the course of 8 years, subtitled in both French and English, and was amazing! There was a Q & A with the director after the movie, and it was awesome to learn more about all of the hard work that went into the making of the movie.

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We were also able to see a couple of red carpet premieres while we were at the festival. It was definitely worth the wait and the crowd to see my first red carpet events!

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Cannes is a beautiful city and I loved exploring it, even if we only had a weekend to do so. We even splurged on a fancy lunch at a restaurant right on the beach our last afternoon there. It was such an amazing experience to catch a bit of the film festival and was definitely a weekend to remember!

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Almost There!

After months and months of work, I turned my thesis in yesterday!

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Regardless of the grade I get on it, I am extremely proud of all of the work I’ve done. Fall semester my sophomore year at Elon, I took a French Literature class. The final for this class was a 5 page paper analyzing a short french book that we read. The night before it was due, I remember writing it in my dorm room stressed out of my mind because the paper was in French. Since it was exam time, there was a 24 hour quite policy in the dorm room, but someone had decided to host a game night in the common room…which was right outside of my dorm. Needless to say, that did not help my stress levels and my roommate was kind enough to go sassily ask them to be quite because I was writing a paper in a foreign language.

Fast forward 2.5 years to now, when I’ve turned in a 70+ page, 25,000 word thesis in French. Writing a short, 5 page paper in French seems like a breeze now that I’ve finished my thesis. It’s hard to believe that I was once so stressed about a short assignment and it’s even crazier to think of how much I’ve changed and grown these past 2 years in France. I’ve very proud of everything I’ve accomplished during my time in France. And, hey, if I can write a 70 page thesis in French, I can do just about anything. Thanks so much to everyone who has supported me throughout my time here! I couldn’t have done it without your support.

Finishing my thesis also means that I am one step closer to graduation. But, while the hardest part is behind me, I’m not quite done yet. I have one more exam and the oral defense of my thesis to pass before I’m done. But, there’s only 14 more days until my oral defense and last exam will be finished and 45 days until I’m flying home. I’m almost there! 🙂