Between classes and living in with a French family, I really feel like I’ve learned a lot over the past four weeks. Beyond the progress I’ve made in my my French, however, I also feel like the fact of being in an international environment has been a huge education. There are students from all over the world at l’Institut, so I’ve had the opportunity to get to know people from different cultural backgrounds in a way that I’ve never before experienced. Obviously Notre Dame has its fair share of foreign students, but that doesn’t quite compare with the student body here in Tours. And although there have been several large contingents from American universities recently, I’ve actually had relatively few Americans in my classes.
Two of my closest friends in Tours are from Chile and Liechtenstein, respectively. It’s been so interesting to talk to them and learn what their countries are like. Coming from a country where you can drive for hours and still be in the same state, it has been fascinating to hear about one where it’s a 30 minute drive from north to south. And when I mentioned that I missed seeing mountains, my friend Paola told me that there are always mountains visible in Chile, no matter where you are.
I’ve learned so much about French culture since I’ve arrived, but through class discussions, presentations, and conversations outside of class, I’ve also learned a lot about other places and cultures. Having never travelled to Europe before, this trip definitely put me outside of my comfort zone, but that’s exactly what I needed in order to encounter the new and unfamiliar. My adventure in Tours is almost coming to an end, so I’m trying to savor whatever exciting new experiences come my way this week. A la prochaine!