“Paris time” is the new double entendre motto that has been narrating my life for the past eight and a half months.

Since being accepted into the program to study abroad in Paris, all efforts have propelled me towards my arrival in the City of Lights. The process of shopping for a Paris apartment made March chaotic; back-to-back meetings with advisors and International Programs directors to determine a class schedule made April a headache. But every minute was pure joy- selecting my Paris roommate; sifting through heavenly course catalogues; finding my adorable apartment! As I looked forward to every meeting and every appointment, my heart fluttered with glee at the prospect of Paris. The bells of “Paris time! Paris time!” chimed in my head as I readied myself for the demanding preparation requirements. Everything was an exhilarating new opportunity and adventure. I wanted to hop on the plane immediately.

But then the school year came to an end, and summer dawned.

Knowing I had to earn the largest amount of money I’ve ever seen in my life in order to support the lifestyle I wished to live in Paris, I slaved away all summer at two demanding full-time jobs. Putting in nine-hour days, seven days a week frustrated and discouraged me. Summer dragged on. I kept reminding myself, “It’s almost Paris time. It’s almost Paris time.” I needed motivation, something to keep myself awake and conscious during each interminable hour of indentured servitude. I felt like a prisoner that needed to work off a sentence to earn freedom. The payoff felt so far away. The reward felt always a bit out of reach. Sleep deprivation and scheduling conflicts dominated my summer mentality. I didn’t have to time to shop for Paris provisions, or to dream up French excursions or weekend getaways.

As the summer crept to an end, and my impending trip approached, I found myself anxious, nervous, and feeling unprepared for such an extravagant adventure. Leaving my family, boyfriend, friends, roommates, pets and familiar surroundings for four months felt like a looming disaster waiting to happen. I started to dread my arrival in this strange land I had been dreaming of for so long.

The phrase “Paris time” made my heart race, my head spin, and my neck freeze. My stomach lurched with every mention of the upcoming journey. My hands trembled as I began to pack my entire life into four pieces of luggage prohibited from weighing more than 25 kilos each. I wondered if I was destined to fail once I arrived in Paris. I wondered if I was a complete fool for wanting to leave my perfect security and everything that I had at home. I wondered if I was making the worst mistake of my life. Each article of clothing that floated into my suitcase stung my desire to leave the comfort of my own bedroom ever again. Each goodbye pierced a hole in my dream bubble. “Paris time. Paris time” swam around my head, dizzying my thoughts and draining every ounce of strength. Tears were often. Anxiety was constant. Emotion was at my all-time high. I carried the stress around with me like a lapdog and the confusion dominated every waking and sleeping moment. I wondered if this epic adventured to which I had dedicated so much time and energy was bound to be a catastrophic disappointment.