I believe everything happens for a reason. When I was 10 years old my Uncle taught me how to how to recite the numbers 1 through 10 in French. From that point on, I loved France and the idea of visiting someday. Naturally, by the time I reached high school, I picked French as my foreign language class. Being in French class had the benefit of hosting short-term exchange students. These opportunities continued to heighten my love for the foreign country and my hopes of visiting someday. Senior year of high school was difficult as I was determined to find a college that offered 4 important things: Occupational Therapy, cheerleading, a specific scholarship opportunity, and a study abroad opportunity in France. All of my searching paid off when I found Saint Francis University in Loretto, PA. I was so eager to take advantage of the study abroad trip I signed up for the Semester in France program which would take place during my 2nd semester of college. I was advised by many people to enjoy my first year of college and go my sophomore year but I was ready for the adventure.
January 20, 2011 finally came, the day I would start my semester abroad. Upon arriving in France, we all had to put our emergency contact numbers on a sign in sheet. Not knowing anyone else on the trip, I noticed there was someone else with the same zip code as mine. I was shy but I went up to Jake and introduced myself. After talking for a few minutes about common places we have both been, I saw this handsome guy with an amazing smile walking toward us; at that point Jake introduced me to his roommate Greg. I was instantly hooked. We clicked from the beginning and found ourselves having fun during the bus rides to and from and even during the field trips that took us around Spain and France. Greg was always my bus buddy and I looked forward to the drives because it meant more time with him. Classes were also a blast together, I eagerly offered to help him with his French homework (… do his homework). Fine arts class also provided us with time together working on assignments. My favorite assignment was when we were sent to The Louvre to find pieces of art work from our artists, Cézanne and Salvador Dalí. We found them instantly so we spent the remaining time exploring The Louvre and Paris together.
The 4 months in France went entirely too quick but I was able to spend them with Greg and really get to know him. At the end of the semester, we were faced with summer and a 3 hour distance between our homes- I am from Pennsylvania and Greg is from New Jersey.
We agreed to be friends but couldn’t stay apart. Greg came to visit me during the summer after I had surgery and we continued talking. We were lucky enough to go back to Saint Francis University together in the fall and began dating in January 2012. We had 2 amazing years together at school before beginning a long-distance relationship for 2 more years (I’ll touch on how to handle a long distance relationship later).
After graduating college and locking down a job, I moved to New Jersey to be with Greg in January 2016.
My family and Greg were invited to the wedding of a former exchange student we had hosted back in 2009. With the wedding being held in France, we decided it would be the perfect opportunity to go back to where we met while studying abroad in 2011. It had been 6 years since we had been to the renovated 10th century Monastery where it all began. In May/June 2017, we spent a total of 17 days between Ireland and France and ended our vacation in Ambialet, France (where we met). This tiny town amid the Midi Pyrenees mountains is simply breathtaking. While studying abroad, Greg and I would often hike to a lookout where you could sit and take in the amazing views of the town. We both agreed that during our visit, we would take a few nice pictures in this spot because of the memories it holds. The morning of the proposal started out like any other day and around 6pm we made our way to the lookout where we enjoyed the scenic views, talked about old memories, and took some pictures. Before we decided to head back, Greg asked for one more photo. It was at this moment that Greg got down on 1 knee and asked me to marry him with the most beautiful ring I have ever seen.