Life Is a Highway

Today’s post is dedicated to my daughter Kate’s opportunity to work at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which took place in France over the past several weeks.
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Truth be told, I was a little upset that she hadn’t opted to study abroad during her junior year in college. Back in the day, I myself spent two summers studying French at Université Laval in Québec, and I’m all for getting out there to see how others live (the answer to that, according to most places I’ve visited, is that many people in the world live MUCH more simply than we do in the U.S.). I will always remember the great adventures and forever friends that the opportunity afforded me. But the best part of leaving home for an extended period of time is when you realize that another place has become your home away from home- you can jump on the bus, get yourself from here to there, pass familiar faces on the street, and know what you’re going to order in a restaurant because you eat there every Friday. In other words, you live your normal life, just elsewhere. Heck, I’m doing it again now while teaching in the UAE and I’d like to think my kids have enjoyed flying by the seat of their pants with me enough to do it on their own. The fact that Jenna’s currently in Europe with her friend Kat’s family thrills me to no end. Multiple countries, parental supervision, what’s not to like?
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Text from Jenna: Mountains in Austria.
Me: Are the hills alive with the sound of music?
Jenna: Duh.
Me: That’s my girl!
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When Kate told Jenna and me about her opportunity to apply to the Cannes program, we freaked out. OMG. We love everything French. We speak fluent Franglais! I’m lucky she brought it up at all, because I realized she didn’t comprehend the magnitude of this opportunity. I’LL GO IF YOU DON’T!” I screamed via Skype. After interviews and paperwork, she was a confirmed participant. Fast-forward a few months and my baby was on a plane to Nice with 13 other girls from Grand Valley State University; most are Hospitality & Tourism Management majors but a few are in Public Relations. Some of the girls hadn’t ever left the country, but I knew they were in for the experience of a lifetime. Although I’m halfway around the world, hours and hours and hours of phone time confirmed my confidence that Kate could prepare herself for this trip, so I was super-excited for her.
Once the girls arrived, they were constantly on the go. From orientation, training, working at the pavilion membership areas, beach screenings,
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yacht parties- yeah, I know it sounds rough, but they worked their tails off, often well into the night. All parents were kept informed and updated by Dr. Lorie Tuma, who has headed this program at various schools for five years.
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She blogged, emailed, and posted on Facebook daily so we didn’t have to worry about our daughters’ whereabouts or safety. I can see from the girls’ Facebook posts and Instagram photos the love and respect they have for Lorie and her tireless efforts to get all of them up and running quickly in addition to ensuring that everything ran smoothly for the duration. We’ll all be forever grateful for her successful efforts!
Below are some photos of Kate and the others while they were hard at work, living out an experience that I’m sure will positively impact the course of their thinking, their careers, their lives, and the way they view opportunity.
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Brushes with many of the rich and famous didn’t hurt, either.

Salma Hayek

Salma Hayek

Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler

Naomi Watts

Naomi Watts

Jake Gyllenhaal

Jake Gyllenhaal

Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman

Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey

And here’s a “behind the scenes” video Kate compiled, which also contains footage of their free day in Monaco.

All I know is things change constantly. I’m here in Abu Dhabi and every few days I have a reality check, whether it concerns the good, the bad, or the ugly. Life is not about being a “traveler” because nothing beats having a home base; it’s about filling yourself with what makes you happy.
Having the supposed means to do something should not be a factor. Yes, loans suck. It’s my job here to chip away at those as much as I possibly can. But studying abroad is often less expensive than going to college in the United States. So to my kids’ college friends reading this- try it, go for it. Many of my friends’ children have jumped at the chance to experience life in a new place; some of them have incredible internship opportunities that will open doors for their future careers. My friend Deb is hosting a foreign-exchange student in her home for the 2015-2016 school year, the coolest part being that her parents did the same when we were in high school.
Life is weird. But you only get one shot. And that great big world out there? It just got a little smaller for my kid.
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Now, as soon as Kate wakes up I anticipate the return of our hours-long phone conversations. Hopefully in French, but I’m not holding my breath.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. suzannainthesand
    May 27, 2015 @ 17:27:09

    It appears that the video link shows up if you’re reading via LinkedIn or Facebook but not for email subscribers. If you’re reading via email and want to watch Kate’s video, you can click on my blog link at the very bottom of the email.

    Like

    Reply

  2. Barb Donahue
    May 28, 2015 @ 16:09:54

    So fabulous and exciting to read about, I can’t imagine living it, or living it through my child! Just AWESOME!! Thanks for sharing! I’ really looking forward to a few pool days this summer so I can hear plenty more stories!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. Deb Mech
    May 29, 2015 @ 04:58:47

    Wow! Kate’s trip looks amazing…So happy for her (and jealous)! Thanks for the honorable mention about me hosting an exchange student! We are so excited for our new daughter to arrive (whoa…sounds like I’m pregnant)! I totally agree that kids should jump at the chance to study abroad, and hope my kids choose to do it, because I totally regret not doing it myself!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  4. bettinabennett2014
    May 31, 2015 @ 08:11:50

    awwww this is wonderful. I’m so happy for all of them — and of course the proud mama too!

    Like

    Reply

  5. Joyce Belluomini
    May 31, 2015 @ 23:45:56

    That’s awesome news! So happy for your daughter, Kate! What a wonderful experience!

    Like

    Reply

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