Socks & Suitcases: Preparing to Study Abroad

48 hours. 

48 hours until I say Au revoir! to the suburbs of Chicago and depart for Nantes, France. 

Well, maybe 54 hours is more accurate since I have a connecting flight in Texas, but my shock is the same. I’m leaving my parents, brother, three cats, and tortoise to travel over 4,000 miles to France— Wow! 

I have been fighting the temptation to pack every sweater and pair of ankle socks for my semester across the sea. The internal battle has resulted in sweaters hanging from every open drawer and socks spilling over the shag carpet. But even while overwhelming, packing is exciting. This time last year I was waiting to study abroad in Tokyo, Japan. Right before I would have started selecting socks for the subway, my program was canceled by the pandemic. After racing back to campus, I applied to study abroad in Japan once again for the spring of 2022, but it wasn’t long before it became clear that wouldn’t be possible. Though I paused my French studies after my freshman year at Hope, old dreams of studying in France reappeared, and voila! Now I will be participating in a full immersion program in Nantes. Quelle surprise!

So here I am making a mess of my suitcase. The mess is a relief. It means that my new navy socks will stretch and wear on unfamiliar streets. Hidden under Converse, they’ll take me from the Metro to my host family and listen while I jumble Japanese and French grammar. Over the last two years, we’ve all had to change our plans and adjust to the unknown— the socks in my suitcase suggest that change can be serendipitous. So maybe I should throw a few more pairs in my carry-on. The pair with giraffes or the pair with dragons? Thank goodness I still have 47 hours to decide.

Published by rachael.grochowski

Class of 2022 English Literature and Japanese Studies Double Major, French Minor IES Nantes, France

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