Meet Jon – University of Nantes

About Me:  My first Christmas present to my mother was labor pangs and a Caesarian section. She gave me life. We’re not even. That was in 1984. I was born and educated in northeast Florida, and earned a degree in Philosophy from the Florida State University. Soon after graduating, I freaked out a little and sold my truck in order to buy a laptop, a camera, and a month in Europe. The experience was transformative, and I wound up living in France for two years, teaching English. During my second year over there, I met a girl from Seattle. When my contract in France was up, I followed her home. Now we’re both going to Nantes, France, to study. My name is Jon.

Where in the world you are off to:  Nantes is near to where the Loire River empties into the Atlantic Ocean. I’ve only been to Nantes once, but it has a castle right in the middle of town and it is the center of the land hemisphere*. It is the historic capital of Brittany, but is no longer considered part of Brittany. This is a sore subject with some of the locals.

*If you cut the world in half so that you could have the most land possible, the center of your half would be in Nantes.

Why you chose this place:  We chose to pursue the exchange opportunity in Nantes because we loved that part of France and wanted to go back. Close enough to Paris, close enough to the ocean. I have a surfboard in France, and I’m hoping to get it back, and to use it. I also attach a surprising amount of romance to things like “centers of land hemispheres.”

What you are most excited about:  I’ve been asked to describe what makes me excited about studying/living in Nantes, and the answer is… everything, I guess. Even the mundane things, like grocery shopping, and doctor visits. Especially those.

In the way that alchemists tried to turn ordinary metals to gold, life in a strange place turns ordinary experiences to cherished memories. I’m not sure why this is, but I think it has to do with being forced – by the inherent unfamiliarity of it all – to pay attention.

I’m looking forward to claiming a regular table at a local café where I’ll ask for the usual and they’ll know what the usual is for me. I’m looking forward to traveling, and to sinking-or-swimming.

What your goals and motivations are:  I am hoping to improve my French drastically, and to learn a great deal about immigration and economics. I am interested in the movement of people in the world. I am motivated by curiosity and wanderlust.

What you hope readers gain from following your posts:  My hope is that, if you’ve already done a study abroad, reading my posts reminds you pleasantly of how you spent your time. If you haven’t lived or studied abroad, I hope that you will. I hope these posts help convince you. It will change your life in all of the ways that you’d expect, and a thousand ways you can’t expect. Jump into it with both feet and later figure out how it all makes sense, and how it advances your career or studies. There’s something about living thousands of miles from home that makes you live a hundred days in one. That’s what I’m looking forward to, and I hope you enjoy reading about it.