Bonjour from Durham, North Carolina!

I have been away from my quaint little city of Tours, France for almost three weeks now which has given me the opportunity to reflect on the six weeks I spent abroad there.  While the group chat with my friends still prospers and I continue to talk incessantly about my time abroad, I still miss my afternoons spent at Amadeus Bagel with Lara, my evenings spent talking with my friends at the Guinguette, and my weekends spent traveling to near and far places in France.

Since being away, I have also been able to reflect on my French language acquisition in my short time period there.  Prior to going to France, I was not confident in my abilities to speak French and the goals that I set for myself seemed ambitious.   Yet, the immersion process (i.e. a host family) awarded me the opportunity to speak constantly in French with instruction by my host mother and teachers when I made mistakes which helped me to further reach my goal of attaining fluency.  While this vast improvement in my language abilities was personally rewarding, I was also given greater appreciation for people.  While it is true that many people speak some English, the ability to engage with people in their native tongue gives a completely different and more whole idea of what their identity is which was the most invaluable and intangible skill I learned.  From these interactions I came to understand a culture more fully than I ever would have been able to without knowing French.

The most amazing things my SLA experience gave me other than just language acquisition were confidence and a global network of friends that I get to see when I go back abroad for the Spring semester.  This being my first time traveling alone somewhere across seas,  the thought of arriving in a foreign country without knowing a soul, navigating the public transportation system in another language, and learning the layout of a new city frightened me.  When I first arrived in Paris I was timid, nervously looking around for someone to help me, and always doubting whether or not I was on the right train or taking the correct route.  However, when leaving and taking a weekend trip in Paris before departing, I felt confident navigating the metro system and finding my away around the city.  The achievement of these small, daily tasks were incredibly awarding for me.

Following my SLA experience I look forward to the further acquisition of my linguistic abilities in my two upper level French courses next semester and following that during my semester in Angers, France!  The SLA was the first step I needed down the long path to fluency.  Without my time in Tours I would not have had the ability to improve so quickly which will make me better prepared for the next two years at Notre Dame and after that for graduate school (hopefully in France!).

To anyone reading this blog who is thinking of applying to do an SLA, I highly recommend it because it will help you vastly improve your linguistic capacities, provide you with practical life experiences, and offer you a friendship network that may otherwise me impossible!

(& if you find yourself in Tours- give my favorite little city a “Salut” from me!)

À la prochaine!