La Ville de l’Amour

March 2, 2012 Features

Tick tock, tick tock…

This sound encapsulated my thoughts, my brain, my dreams around this time last year.  The process of studying abroad is one that certainly absorbs time and energy as well as creating nerves. As I look around and see other friends and students completing the seemingly endless forms, I feel their pain. The pain of not knowing where to go, how to apply, who to talk to … the endless questions that pile up more quickly than expected.
As I see their stressed and anxious faces, I want to tell them to stick with it, to not give up. I promise that the memories and stories that I have now gained after my semester in Paris, France, were worth every second of stress and confusion that I experienced while finding the place and program that was right for me.

As the deadline approached, I knew I had to buckle down and make a game time decision. I had to dedicate myself to one specific program. I remember feeling as if the walls were closing in on me. It felt like I was not making this decision based on my aspirations or my dreams but for other people that I felt the need to please. My mom, who also went on the Hollins Program that Rollins uses, wanted nothing more than for me to follow in her footsteps, but that was not my dream; it was hers.

I knew that I wanted to go independently of Rollins, but I was unsure which program would be right for me. With the pressure from my parents to apply somewhere with extensive language courses, and my advisor telling me that I needed to take courses that could work for my CMC major, I felt that no matter what choice I made it would be wrong to someone.

I remember taking a step back and thinking to myself that I needed to do this for me. As much as I wanted to please my parents and professors, I needed to be selfish at this point and think about what I wanted. I craved to explore not only Paris, but also myself, in a place away from the comfort of my home, friends and family.

I came to discover that there would be no other time in my life to embrace an opportunity such as this. This was the only time where I would not be committed to a 9-5 job, pursuing a career, paying rent, finding a life partner, or raising a family. This was my time, with no strings attached, and I needed to take full advantage of it.

This was the moment when I clicked  “submit” on my CEA Paris application for the fall of 2011.  It was not until about a month later that I received my acceptance letter and realized that this was real. It hit me. After a short hot summer, I would be packing up for four months to live in a foreign country, away from everything that was familiar. Before I knew it, I was on my flight to Paris, “La Ville de L’Amour.”

Read part 2 of La Ville de l’Amour here.

About Eliza Smithwick

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