WAIT WHAT, YOU’RE GOING TO PARIS?

I’ve made everyone a cheat sheet.

“Shelbi, why are you still here? Leave for Paris already.”

Well Europe doesn’t do everything like America. Shocking I know. They do their collegiate level education largely on a trimester system, so I don’t start until February 2. But since I am from Merica, I have to take an American length semester. So classes will end May 31, at which time my family is coming to play in Europe for 2 weeks! Yay!

“What are you doing over there?”

I’ll be taking 12 whole hours of language and culture classes at the University of Paris. And it’s all in French…

We’ll see how that goes. I think I’ll be very grateful for a pass/fail semester.

“Do you know anyone?”

NOT YET!

“Did you know that French people are super rude?”

I am convinced this stereotype does not hold true for an entire nation.

Largely because I’ve lived in Texas long enough to know that we do not, in fact, all ride horses.

“Will you have a blog?”

Apparently?

Honestly, I wasn’t really planning on it, but then I decided to see if I could still log into my old Africa one. And well obviously the answer was yes. But well I won’t promise consistent updates after departure…

“I really need to let you know that it’s not fun here without you/get your oatmeal butterscotch cookie recipe, how do I contact you?”

Facebook, Viber, iMessage, Skype, however! But it is 8 hours ahead for me so there’s that.

“Why would you assault us with all this useless information?”

Sorry guys, Dallas is just quite boring when it’s this empty…

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Composing a Goodbye…

is never really a good idea. I mean good luck with that, but it just doesn’t work. Come up with the most fail safe way to leave with maximum meaning and minimal stress, and things will not go as planned. Inevitably, someone will intrude, you’re all simply too tired/hungry/distracted by food to get properly emotional, or, you know, YOUR CAR REFUSES TO START.

I realized this as I sat at a gas station, with an unresponsive expedition xl, an hour into my drive back to Dallas. I was ready to leave College Station, and I’d said goodbye to everyone for what I’d thought was the last time. I’d begun thinking about a sappy blog and planning all of the”goodbye to this place/people that I love so much” statements, but nope. There had even been a grieving process involved in leaving College Station- consisting entirely of belting semi meaningful songs in the privacy of the black monster truck I was driving.

And now I had no choice but to go back.

Because my mom’s car hated me. According to my new oil pipeline engineer friends, there was definitely probably almost certainly a problem with my fuel pump/vapor something. Don’t get me wrong, they were incredibly helpful, but there was nothing any of us could do.

And so I had to be rescued from the truckers’ lounge of the Shell station by some wonderful friends (shoutout to Courtney Welch and Zac Wiltz for being the greatest). And in the meantime I got to live out my long time dream of being a gypsy by playing guitar at the nearly empty gas station. This also gave me time to reflect on/laugh at that one quote about the best laid plans of mice and men.

“The best laid plans of mice and men/ often go awry” *

Funny when I consider my last semester. Since planning consumed most of it. If I’ve seen you at all over this past semester, I imagine I might have mentioned the fact that I’m studying in Paris this semester. Don’t get me wrong, I tried my best to balance enjoying the semester and planning for the next one, but there was still a ton of time devoted to getting ready to leave the country. Planning has taken over even more of my time over the break. I’ve spent my exhaustingly long limbo period either working or preparing, making sure every little detail of my time abroad is taken care of. And this was the moment I was to put the beginning of my plans into motion. I was finally leaving the familiar for the unknown, and well… it wasn’t happening.

So I had to laugh when God slipped me this little reminder of His power and my lack thereof. For all the work I’d done to ensure that my future worked the way I wanted it to, there was absolutely nothing I could do to make my car move again.

And even though I was greeted with many a loving “wait you left yesterday, get out of my house,” I was definitely glad to spend one more day in a town whose only magic comes from the people in it.

My conclusion from the adventure is simple. It definitely won’t hurt me to remember that “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps” (Prov. 16:9).

But I love surprises. So bring on the unexpected. I think I’m as ready as one can ever be.

And dear College Station friends, you no longer have to worry that I’ll show up at your house before you’ve even finished grieving my absence, because I am finally gone for good.

Au Revoir, mes amis!

*or originally “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft agley”

It’s from Robert Burn’s 1785 poem To a Mouse– never fear, I’m an English major.