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!

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! 🙂

Lisbon, Portugal

Exactly 2 months from today, I will be getting on a plane to head back to the US. Just another remind of how crazy fast time is going by. Let the countdown begin!

After finishing my classes earlier this week, I have been holed in my room and the library working on my thesis. T-15 days until it’s due. Saturday, I headed to the library for a productive day of thesis work, to find out that it wasn’t actually open… In France, it’s typical to take a vacation around this time, but the Saturday closure wasn’t mentioned anywhere. Someone mentioned that the library wasn’t going to be open again until May 3rd and I started to panic. No library or access to new books for a week, right before my thesis deadline was not a challenge I wanted to deal with. Luckily, the week-long library closure was just a miscommunication and the library should be open this week, which is a relief. If all goes well, my thesis will be written by the end of the week. Fingers crossed!

Moving on from all of the thesis talk, I do have something more fun to talk about (as you could probably guess from the title)–my recent trip to Portugal!  In mid-April, I had a week off school and my parents were kind enough to fly over to Europe to come see me. It was great to see them and we had a great time exploring Lisbon! We even had time to  take a day trip to nearby towns, Sinatra and Cascais. In Cascais I was able to stick my feet into the eastern side of the Atlantic ocean, which was absolutely freezing. But, I can now say that I’ve been in both sides of the Atlantic ocean, so it was definitely worth it.

None of us had ever been to Portugal before and so this trip was a real treat! It was a great escape from reality and one last mini-vacation before diving into my thesis and the end of classes. Pictures below! 🙂

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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!

12 Days in Europe: Berlin

After a short train ride from Hamburg, we arrived at the final stop of our trip, Berlin. Our first day there, we took another free walking tour of the city. It was a great tour that helped us get oriented in the city and see some of the major sites, including the Berlin Wall, the Holocaust Memorial, and the Bradenburg Gate.

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The second day was a Monday, so all of the museums in the city were closed. Instead of seeing more of the city, we decided to take a tour of the nearby concentration camp, Saxenhausen. It was a good, but hard day. I’m glad that I was able to visit a camp in person and learn more about what happened during the holocaust.

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And then, all too soon, our time in Germany came to close. We ended the trip in Reims. I showed Ben the cathedral, my school, and we went champagne tasting at Taittinger. It was the a great, and relaxing, end to our trip. 🙂

Did you miss any of the posts about our trip? Catch up here!

Itinerary: https://dabblingintraveling.wordpress.com/2015/02/13/12-days-in-europe-itinerary/ 

Parishttps://dabblingintraveling.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/12-days-in-europe-paris/ 

Brusselshttps://dabblingintraveling.wordpress.com/2015/03/11/12-days-in-europe-brussels/ 

Amsterdamhttps://dabblingintraveling.wordpress.com/2015/03/15/12-days-in-europe-amsterdam/ 

Hamburghttps://dabblingintraveling.wordpress.com/2015/03/29/12-days-in-europe-hamburg/