Thursday, September 22, 2011

McKell Neff- Tours France Summer 2011

Each day in Tour something new and exciting happened. My first days in Tour I did not have my luggage because it got lost by the airline. Most would call this a misfortune; however, for me this was not a negative thing. I went to downtown Tours and indulged in French fashion with out feeling guilty because it was a necessity! My first day there I was already soaking in the French culture and being forced to use French. I had to ask for a dressing room, ask for a different size and I even got to share my story of how my luggage got lost with a girl in the dressing room.

My next days proved to be just as exciting as the first. My first weekend when I arrived was a long weekend because it was a French Holiday. Along with a few newly met friends from class, I headed off to explore Paris (45 min. train ride from Tours). Each weekend while I was abroad I had the opportunity to visit somewhere new in Europe. I visited places near and far, relaxing beaches to historical castles.

Not only were my weekends an adventure but it seemed as if every day at school and at my Host family’s house were exciting. Each day at class I learned something new and useful. Each day I progressed noticeably with the French language. At home with my host family we never spoke English and at school we never spoke English. Everyday a group of us would get together for lunch and seek out something new and exciting to eat. Our common language was French. Even on these occasions we would speak French because many of the students that joined us for lunch didn’t speak English. This diversity of languages forced us to communicate only in French.

The school excursions to castles and other famous places made it possible to always have things to do. I was never bored or ever homesick because I was always busy. It was very easy to meet new people and friends because of the way the classes were organized and the way the University of Utah staff was involved with us everywhere we went.

There were so many ways to learn about French culture and language while in Tour; however, the one that made the biggest impact on me was the time that I spent with the women that I stayed with. Every night I could hardly wait to get home to see what she had prepared for dinner. She made it her goal to prepare a very authentic French meal every night so we got to literally indulge in and taste French culture. Sometimes the meals she prepared were 7 course meals and sometimes it took us 2 or more hours before we were finished and cleared the table. I didn’t mind the time we spent at the table because this is where I learned and progressed the most in French and in friendships. She had the most incredible stories. She would tell us about how hard her life was during World War II and how she lived through the war. She would tell us how she used to milk her own goat when she was young and make cheese from the milk. Her life was full of interesting adventures and she would share a new story with us each night. If I were to choose my favorite part about my stay in Tours, it would be without question, the times I spent at dinner talking to our host Mother.

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