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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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!

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! 🙂

Last Day of Classes!

Today marks the beginning of the end of my undergraduate experience, with the last day of class. This semester has flown by, and the end of classes shows just how quickly the end is approaching. I can count the number of weeks and assignments I have left on one hand. Only 1 projet, 1 thesis, 1 retake, 1 thesis defense, and 5 weeks stand between me and finishing my degrees. I’m not quite done yet, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and am looking forward to finishing strong.

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So much has changed since our first day of classes (including the name of our school), but I am so glad that I’ve gotten to share this experience with these girls. I’m so proud of everything we’ve accomplished these past 2 years. It’s been a great experience with lots of challenges, but also many wonderful adventures along the way.

My last few weeks of college are going to fly by, especially if they go by as fast as the rest of this semester has. I look forward to making the most of theses last few weeks of college, celebrating the end of undergrad and all that we have accomplished, and soaking up my remaining time in France. 🙂

Stressed But Blessed

I know that the title is cheesy, but it’s true. I just got back from spending a few days in Portugal with my parents, have had the amazing opportunity to study at a private university and spend 2 years abroad, can see the 800 year-old cathedral where all the kings of France were crowned from my apartment window, and have exciting things to look forward to in the near future. I feel blessed and am so grateful for all of the wonderful experiences and opportunities I’ve had.

But, my thesis is due in 29 days and I am stressed out of my mind. The May 11th deadline is coming up way too fast and my thesis is constantly on my mind. It’s one long time management battle that I seem to be loosing daily. This thesis the last big thing I need to finish before I can graduate and I have so much left to do and am running out of time. Deep down, I know that everything will get done and that I will (fingers crossed) pass and validate it. But right now, I’m very stressed and cannot wait for it to be done.

For now, I’ll count my blessings and get back to work. I’m going to finish my college experience strong and knock this thesis out of the park. May 11th, here I come!

10 Things I Miss About America

I have officially lived in France for 18 months now and I can’t believe how fast the time has flown by. I love living in France, but there are definitely things I miss about the states. And I’ve been reminiscing a bit about life in the states this week, so here’s a list of the 10 things I miss the most about the USA (besides family and friends, of course!).

1. Sweet Tea. Southern sweet tea. It’s more than just sugar in iced tea, it’s a lifestyle.

2. 24 hour Library. Neoma’s library closes by 10pm daily, earlier on Saturdays, and is closed on Sundays. During finals week, the library is typically open fewer hours instead having extended hours. Especially now that I’m elbow deep in thesis work, I miss having access to the library 24/7 and only having to walk 10 minutes to get there.

3. Band. And having a variety of activities in general. In college in the US, being well-rounded and involved in campus life is really important. However, in France, as a student, your job is to study and go to class. There are a few sports teams and a student association, but that’s about it. I miss the diversity of activities that the US colleges offer, especially band.

4. Having a Consistent Schedule. After 3 semesters of crazy schedules and 3-hour long classes, you think that I would be used to it now. And I am, well, sort of. I have learned how to work well in the French school system and class schedule, but I don’t like it. I’m looking forward to having a fairly consistent work schedule after school.

5. Wearing sweats to class. While at Elon, I wore a t-shirt and jeans to class most days, but didn’t take enough advantage of the acceptability of wearing sweats or pajamas to class. Here’s to the days of wearing a t-shirt, hoodie, and sweat pants to class.

6. Food. Mac ‘n Cheese, canned black beans, Pop Tarts, Lucky Charms, bagels, the list of American foods I miss goes on and on. I haven’t found it hard to be a vegetarian in France, but there are definitely some things that I miss: soy bacon, tofurkey, veggie burgers. Yummm. And don’t get me started on restaurants. I have a long list of places I miss (Panera Bread, Chipotle, The Root, Cookout…).

7. Shopping Hours. Almost everything closes for lunch and Sundays. While I have adopted to and appreciate the more “relaxed” lifestyle here, sometimes I just want to do my grocery shopping on Sunday and go to the bank during my lunch break.

8. Peanut Butter.  Technically peanut butter exists in France, but it’s definitely not the same here. I’m the only person I know who brings PB&J or PB, honey and banana sandwiches to school. Peanut butter in France comes in teeny, tiny, expensive jars and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are nowhere to be found. Here’s to hoping my peanut butter stash lasts through the end of the semester.

9. Iced Coffee. I’ve gotten fairly used to not having ice in my drinks in restaurants, but I definitely miss having iced coffee in the summer.

10. Dryers. Folding laundry from a drying rack just isn’t the same as folding clothes fresh from the dryer.

Chasing the Sun

The trip around Europe with Ben was a success, but tiring. I may have forgotten include any rest days in our itinerary…whoops. I definitely learned my lesson and will build in a few relaxing days on my next trip. I’ll update soon with stories of our adventures, but until then, here are a few photos from the trip. 🙂

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Ben flew home Thursday and I have spent the last few days relaxing, ignoring my growing to do list and enjoying the last few days of vacation before classes start back up. This time tomorrow, I’ll be busy with classes and thesis work. Tomorrow I start my first of 4 “elective” classes. They are exactly the same as the “major” classes I took earlier in the semester, just a little bit shorter (lasting 2 weeks each instead of 3 weeks). I will be taking one class at a time and usually have 6 hour blocks of class a few days a week. These long days, combined with the inconsistent French class schedule, and the fact that one of my classes only meets for a week means that I don’t have many days of classes left before graduation. 23 days of class to be exact. Where did time go?!?!

But, fear not. I will still be very busy, despite having a lighter class schedule–my senior thesis needs to be written. And I have made the ambitious, but necessary, goal of having a draft of my thesis done by Easter weekend…which is only 34 days away. So, I’m off to enjoy my last day of vacation before classes and thesis work resume tomorrow.