Hi everyone, my name is Kelsey E. I’m from Dalton Georgia and I’m a graduating senior studying horticulture. This is my pre-departure post, and I’ve been asked to talk about issues I’ve faced while preparing for my study abroad trip!
I’m taking part in The Art and Gardens of The Grand Tour study abroad which takes place during Maymester. I’d heard a lot about this program from Dr. Smalley who is my advisor, teacher, and a coordinator for this trip and decided this was the right semester to participate. The Grand Tour was a tradition in Europe and was considered the completion of a young adult’s education. During this tour, students visited historic gardens and monuments, and in that same spirit, I will be lead to these same locations.
I’m very new to the travel experience. My travelling experiences have been limited mostly to the south, and always within a good day’s drive. I’ve never gotten on a plane or even applied for a passport previously, so this is all very new! The way my airline booking worked out, I will be flying solo until I arrive at my first hotel, a day before my classmates. But, with plenty of printed maps and directions, I know I’ll get there just fine.
My family was always very supportive of this trip and the internship I will complete in France after Maymester. I’ll be working in estate gardens at chateaus and living with the owners of the chateaus! It will be wonderful to see so many historic gardens and then have the opportunity to work in three! Back to my family, they’re only slightly sad I’m leaving because they know how much I’ll gain from this trip and the internship, but will still miss me. My boyfriend Scott and I have been inseparable since we got together 4 years ago. Our cat, Westen, has been with us the past 3 years, so it’s going to be really hard to leave them both for 3 and a half months.
As for anxieties or fears I’m confronting at the moment, I wouldn’t say I have too many. I am fully equipped with technology gadgets (thanks to Scott’s very wonderful knowledge of tech and travel necessities), such as a very handy external battery. I’ll add 2 pounds to my pack if it means I’ll virtually always have power! I also got a Google Chromebook as a graduation present to myself from my mom, haha. It’s a pretty cheap, ultra light laptop with everything I’ll need (Google docs, a front facing camera, access to the internet, etc) without adding any weight to my pack. I’d say that was the biggest stress for me leading up to this moment. Just trying to find everything, especially in the tech-field that I know I’ll need access to so I can stay connected to my family and find my way if I ever get stranded. I think it’s easier to find these types of items prior to a trip rather than during. Toiletries aren’t very important since everywhere I’m going sells them somewhere.
I’m very excited about my upcoming trip and can’t wait to put my knowledge of horticulture to the test with some of the best professors from UGA!