About 34 days before I get on the plane and the start of my adventure!
Today I accepted an application from someone that I know will be a terrific tenant for my home here in So Cal. I’m not going to say much about them but they have a great job and I can tell they will be happy here. That is a huge relief for me.
So, now with this item checked off the list I can focus on looking forward to the trip and what lies ahead. I have some friends coming to visit me at different points during my trip in between my school experiences. In February, I have a friend possibly visiting me in Paris for my birthday. In April I hope to have some other friends see me. After my course in Florence, I’m hoping some friends of mine will be joining me in Italy for their first trip there. I can’t wait to show them one of my favorite countries in Europe. I hope to have another couple of friends visit me end of August to ride some bikes around Europe a bit and I hope the finale will be a trip to Morocco in November before I head back stateside in December.
So, now I know what I’m doing in May. I’ve received confirmation of my enrollment at the Michelangelo Institute in Florence. I’d been searching for a language school that also had concurrent art history classes and I was looking at the Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo schools. Just this past Sunday in the Travel section of the L.A. Times there was a quick article on solo travel and one of the blurbs was about the Michelangelo school. The school provides housing options and one of them was your own apartment, but the selection was not very good, so I went on to airbnb.com and found me a nice small place, a little away from the tourist crush but close enough to walk to the school. It’s in the Oltrarno section of Florence, that’s across the river and west of the Ponte Vecchio area. The school is by Piazza Santa Croce. That’s a good ½ hour walk or so. I will have 3 weeks of language class, M-F from 9a – 1p and the art classes are Tues & Thurs from 3p – 5p. Just like the school in Paris, you take an assessment test online as well as an oral test on your first day to determine your level in said language.
Unfortunately, the da Vinci schools don’t have any da Vinci engineering classes. It would be cool to study his engineering methods for a few sessions in the city where he invented so many of his machines. The art history classes will cover things about de Vinci from his work as a painter, Michelangelo who took his inspiration for St. Peter’s dome from Brunelleschi’s dome in Florence, that’s the photo you always see of Florence. It will also cover the Medici who shaped the Florence landscape and put it on the map politically as well as other Renaissance artists. Even though my focus for this trip is to get certified in French, Italy is one of my favorite places in Europe. Can’t wait.
Today was my appointment at the French consulate. The actual event was, well, uneventful. The real problem was getting there. Thank heaven I don’t have to drive far to work everyday, i’d have to kill somebody at least once a week to relieve the stress. I left at 7:55 AM and managed to drive 67 total miles in a whopping 2:35 minuets. That’s right, it was about 10:30 when I arrived at the visa office. I was terrified that they were going to tell me that I would need to make a new appointment or that I’d have to wait for hours before they’d see me. Not true. I had all the necessary docs and copies of docs I needed and I was only there until about 11:00 AM. How much was 1/2 hour parking? $6.00 US dollars or $2.00 for every 12 minutes or part thereof. In 3:16 I could have caught a nonstop Paris to Amsterdam train, Milan to Venice, Rome to Bologna, etc. Point is, instead of driving 67 miles, I could have traveled about 300 miles. Anyway, I was pretty shaken when I got there but all went well. How long did it take me to get back down to the OC? 1 Hour! Commuting hours must be hell for the poor fools who have to drive on the 5, 55, 405, 10, 110, 710, 91 Freeways. Please don’t make me go back!
Just under 2 months to go until I get on the plane to Paris. Just put the house up for lease. We’ll see what happens. That’s my biggest concern after work. Yes, I’m still very worried about work because I’ve been there so long, I want to make sure the transition to the new person goes very smoothly. I plan on coming back to my job after my year off, so you can’t take that attitude of, “let them deal with it”. There are other things to prepare. This Tuesday I go to the French Consulate in Los Angeles to interview for my long term visa. I had to get a police clearance letter, I have to show them I have enough money in the bank to support myself as well as write a letter in which I promise not to engage in anything that would be considered employment. I hope they don’t ask for anything I don’t have on me, as the Consulate is not down the street. In fact, I’ll have to take 1/2 the day off to go up there, have the interview and come back down to the OC and get back to work. Wish me luck.
Ok, here goes. 3 months from today I will be on a Virgin flight to London and after my connection to Paris, I will officially start my year abroad. I’ve been dreaming about it since I was a kid. First, I wanted a year abroad in high school. No money. That dream came and went. Off to UCI. Dreamt about the year abroad. Guess what? Not enough money. Still, I appeased my lust with 3 & 4 week trips in between school years. I’d work really hard, worked at the travel agency and was able to make my summer dreams of going to Europe come true. That was over, ahem, 20 year ago, and now I am finally going to make it happen. In the past 20 years, I’ve lost count, but it must be about 40 trips to Europe. I say I have averaged about 2 a year. Would have been more, but I wanted to see other places, too. Well, with more saving and hard working throughout these past 20 years – and a bit of savvy investing and some great luck – it’s finally time to take the plunge!
So, in preparation for this year-long trip, there is a huge laundry list of things to do and things I have done once I decided this past Spring that this is what I was going to do. More on that next time.