Destination: Poitiers, France

May was a good month. I obsessed over the opening of PAUL USA in DC, celebrated my 30th birthday surrounded by friends, and took the perfect trip to France with my mother.

I am happy to report that I am still an ardent francophile. I was so worried that my trip off the beaten track would reveal a shallow schoolgirl crush on France. To my relief, I fell in love with my future hometown, Poitiers.

Poitiers is simply the perfect place for my French language immersion. It's relatively small and compact, with lots of students which gives it great energy. And it is beautiful. Lots of cute, narrow streets, lovely churches, and historic architecture. There are great parks and a river, and it's ideally situated between Paris and Bordeaux---with the Atlantic Ocean (La Rochelle) a short TGV ride away.

The main campus of the university is on the outskirts, about a 10-15 minute bus ride from centre ville. I am hoping to score university housing in a dormitory to save cash (yes, it's time for me to dig out my shower shoes and robe...).

I was blown away by how nice, open, and welcoming everyone was. I feel so fortunate to have been able to make connections before I arrive. During my trip, I had lunch with a girl who will be my language exchange partner, met a guy who is active in Poitiers’ green scene, and spent many, many hours with my Couchsurfing savior who made most of my Poitevin introductions possible (he held a dinner party at his house for every night I was there). And I can't forget the awesome German girl I met who will most likely be my first visitor in September.

Before I left, I paid my deposit for the university program and even got my first taste of the French administrative thought-process (a.k.a., bureaucracy).

I know that many challenges await me this fall and spring. But I am looking forward to tackling them all with patience, love, and humor.

I am over the moon with excitement about all that awaits me in France. I have a little under 3 months until my departure date (late August). Of course, I am anxious to leave for France, like right now. But I know that I will appreciate having three more paychecks in my bank account when the time comes to backpack across the EU or perhaps, enroll in a second year of study...

There is so much for me to do before I leave: visa appointment, possession purge, training my work replacement, and of course, making lots of final memories with my beloved friends in DC.