they practically invented it

there's quite a lot of paperwork involved in the visa application process. print this out, fill it out, make 5 copies and send 3 of them to us, 1 to those people, and keep one for your records. read everything twice, sign it once, and make a copy for your records. fill this out in black ink in capital letters and use X's not check marks. goodbye trees.... however, i've realized that the bureaucracy of it all is extremely typical of european affairs. they want things written down and documented and signed -- do they really have that many law suits?

whether they invented it is questionable, though. they were always happy to adopt oriental practices as their own and act like they invented it. i'm quite sure that china had dreamed up their examination system and historical records long before europe really existed (they were just a bunch of little villages and kingdoms until the romans came to save the day and tax them). but what didn't china do first? [insert witty juvenile joke here].

despite the bureaucratic labyrinth, french universities are far from structured, from what i hear. they do not release a course schedule early on and do not have a ton of deadlines for each step. you get there, start taking classes, and then enroll in the ones you like. the website even says that studying is not the only thing students should do. in fact, it shouldn't even be the priority. now that is something you don't see in america; if students aren't studying, they aren't doing their work, which means they aren't benefiting society. it's a very different view that the french have, even from other european nations. nevertheless, i'm still very excited to dive into this unknown world.


long distance relationship...

my biggest challenge with France right now is le boyfriend. it's going to be emotionally difficult no matter what we do, but we have options. we've been together for over a year, so we made it through last summer just fine. the separation anxiety was eased by frequent phone calls, some video chats, and lots of IMing. when i'm in France, i won't have the luxuries of instant, constantly available communication. i'll have to choose when i want to use the internet and where -- i imagine skype will be difficult because people in France don't coop up in their rooms all the time (and many don't have at home internet), so i don't know about privacy. in fact, i don't know anything about how it's really going to be yet because things, people, and cultures all change, and much more rapidly these days. aside from the communication challenges, i'll be at home for the summer. 12 hours from him. and it could be just like last summer as far as staying together. but then i will leave from home and not get to hug him goodbye. how is this gonna work?
i know going to France is going to change me and how i see life. i want this time to be about me and my relationship with myself. i'm going to be 6000 miles away from home, family, friends, and him. in that situation, i can't hope to bring all of it with me; i have to set it down because it's not going to be my life raft. if anything, it'd be my bomb shelter. but i want to give myself the freedom to embrace what i want in myself and my life. can i do that while still being committed to my sweetie? i think so. would it be any easier if we set that down too? maybe, but who knows? i have time to decide where i want to be. i should not tie myself down yet. really, i want to live the young life where i'm not buying a home or making babies (FOUR HUNDRED BABIES). i want to go couch surfing and camping around while i travel. yes, i'll be that annoying tourist type that stays in hostels, but i do have enough connections to do more of the couch surfing. having a boyfriend (i really, really hate that term, "having a boyfriend" it's like he'd be an item to own or something) doesn't make that impossible, and neither would marriage, but is it something i should go alone? i need to be assertive with my desires and let him know that i want this for me. i'm going to cry anyway because i'm a crier and crying is how i let it all out. that's not so much to be afraid of. we'll be okay.


this is it!

when dream becomes reality, there's this striking moment where that epiphany hits you like a nice dose of valium+adrenaline; you go numb, but want to shoot out or your skin all at once, in every direction, for millions of lightyears, and then fly back together, imploding; or maybe i'm thinking of a supernova. now to my point: whether the reality exist or not is wholly dependent on whether your brain, consciousness, spirit-mind, or what you will, is aware of the reality. (this is particularly well-illustrated by schizophrenics who see an increasingly [scary] picture of life over time.)

i experienced my awareness' dawn this morning when i received the email from the study abroad program Director (capital D) with the subject "[somethingrather] Scholarship"; naturally, that was the title i saw, and i figured it was just some information about one; as i clicked on the email, it was too late to not realize that it was THE scholarship, the doozy, the big one, the one i thought i had no chance in the world of getting. fortunately for me, the fateful words are always the first in letters of this type, so the shock only increased from there: "It is my great pleasure..." and i crapped my mental pants in joy. it went on to say that i had been selected. "The scholarship amount is $5,000." pure and simple; no extra little tidbits. "This money will be credited to your account..." really, this is free money, though hard-earned, i assure you. there are no flourishes in this letter.

upon reading the rest i began shaking, which i think is my body's way of saying it can't contain my psyche. i felt the tears prodding the backs of my eyeballs and before i knew it, i was listening to my mom's phone ringing on the other end of the [non-existent] line. apparently, the explosion of my brain out of my skull was evaded in the form of sharing the news with my CFO (aka momma dearest), but i didn't realize that i was still cognizant until the words came flowing out of my mouth "guess what.. igotthescholarship forfivethousanddollars!! i'mreallygoingtofrance!"

she squealed. i allowed myself a muffled squeal, somehow remembering i have roommates who like to sleep later than the buttcrack of dawn (good for them, just not really my style). her response? well you could guess it, especially if you know my mom; "i just want to jump through the phone and hug you and jump up and down! wahoooo!!" we are all just teenagers at heart. i told cuong (le boyfriend) and he got super excited with a lot of YAY's.

after a quick shower -- no, i'm not sure it was quick because i was twitching between shampooing and soaping, which could mean i was going super fast or super slow -- i called my dad and left him a stammered message. he called me back, and i shared the news (again). his response was akin to my mom's, but with less jumping and squealing. i basically just got paid for my hard work as a diligent (no, i did not say delinquent) student. that's four months of living expenses. all these realizations fell on me in a pile of happy tidings, drowning me in an insurmountable hope for my future.

dear disney, i'll tell you where dreams come true. it's not at that hyper-consumerist park of yours. those aren't dreams. living, eating, breathing, sleeping france is my dream; and it's coming true. i'll tell you why. it's because i worked my hind end off; i tried again and again through paperwork and frustration; i kept my promises to myself about meeting deadlines and getting answers. now here i am, with that much work in my pocket, under my belt. so all i can say, disney, is you fill people with a hope for a dream that they can pay to achieve; i on the other hand have paid and paid, and now i get reimbursed... and none of this is material. yes, they are dollar bills, but they mean i am now awarded the opportunity for the experience of my lifetime heretofore. and that is all i can ask for. 10 years+ of dreaming has paid off quite literally. and i am one happy clam!