a review of my sixth week in tours, france

“Je m’en vais chercher un grand peut-être // I go to seek a Great Perhaps” – François Rabelais

Batiment Rabelais // The Rabelais Building

I did not know what I was going to find at the Institut de Touraine, except for maybe a little French. At the end of six weeks, I can say that my time here came to an end much more quickly than I expected, and while I was busy with classes, going to the local nursing home to engage with residents, having dinner with my host family, and exploring Tours, I really only scratched the surface of the wonderful French culture. I’m glad I got to go to some areas outside of Tours, and I really would have liked to visit more, but there is so much to see and experience that it really would take a lifetime to do it all. Going back home and back to campus, I will miss the easily accessible markets, beautifully manicured gardens, and the riverside hang outs that became the basis of my daily routine. I wish I could take all of the things I loved about the last month and a half back home with me, but I don’t think my checked bag is large enough, so I’ll bring all of my experiences with me and all of the progress I made in French. There has definitely been an increase in my confidence in French conversations in and out of class after these weeks of immersion; I am much more at ease with using slang and the common phrases that the native speakers use and I’ve finally figured out exactly what kind of sandwich and pastry I like to get for lunch from the boulangerie around the corner.

From a market…
… in a garden…
… by the river.


This past week, we’ve really started covering some more interesting topics about health and society in class, which gave some variation from the more ecological or literary topics that had been the precedent. I was particularly invested in the classes this past week, given that it would be the last time for a while where I would have so much exposure to French and also because I presented on the trafficking of blood plasma between the United States and Europe for my final project. After that, my professor gave us a little more information on the French healthcare system since we are all fairly unfamiliar with it. It’s a system of socialized medicine meaning that everyone’s taxes go into a healthcare fund of sorts to pay for medical expenses. Ideally, no one has to pay for out of pocket medical costs at public hospitals and clinics, but it is subject to lots of abuses that have put the country in debt over the past few years. More privatized insurance policies are coming to the forefront like in US medical care, but at the base French residents need only the carte vitale (a card with your health information and any supplementary insurance policies) for going to the doctor or picking up a prescription. We also talked about the issue of homelessness (les SDF: sans domicile fixe) in France. Just as with most cities, there were quite a few homeless people in Tours, and while I’m not very educated on the systems that care for the homeless in the States, I think both countries are on the same page. That is to say, there are programs that exist to care for people living on the streets, but they are few and far between and don’t always effective in their attempts to address this problem. So I’ve been learning about more than just french in class, and I really enjoy now being able to use a more technical vocabulary when talking about complex topics.

My dome away from home 🙂

As I’m finally getting acclimated to life in France, it feels harder to leave, but I’m excited to get back to friends, family and my French classes at Notre Dame and share the perspectives I’ve gained and greater understanding of the French language.

I was not ready for this picture or my last day at the institute


Au revoir ! // Until we meet again!

La France est un pays laïque // Secularism in France

A review of my fifth week in tours, France

“L’État chez lui, l’Église chez elle // The State to one side, the Church to the other” – Victor Hugo

I arrived to France with the notion of Catholicism being the major influence on the culture. To an extent, I was right: there are more churches in Tours alone than in some dioceses in America. Lucky for me, I don’t have to walk too far Sunday morning to find a mass, which gives me a few extra minutes for my grasse matinée (essentially, sleeping in). France is a country that is extremely proud of its history, of which the Church plays a major role. Feast days are the basis for many of the national holidays and Sundays are a day of rest when just about everything is closed. However, religion itself is considered a very taboo topic. So much so that it’s illegal to wear any religious sign in a public place which gave way to a scandal a few years ago: a Muslim woman was forced by police to take off her hijab she was wearing at the beach. This is a representation of the extremes of the “secularism” which presented itself as religious intolerance in the wake of terrorist attacks.

La laïcité was a common topic of discussion in class and was explained by my teacher to be one of the greatest achievements of the French society inspired by the spirit of the Revolution and the Lumières which rejected the influence of Christianity (specifically Catholicism) because it was embedded into a monarchy that the French were not too content with. This mentality seems to rest as a protective measure against any possible chance that the same situation could resurface. For example, in public grade schools, any possible reference to religion is banned. If you want your children to be able to express a religious identity, they have to go to a private school (usually Catholic).


This engrained practice of secularism makes for a very different perspective of faith from the one that we have in the states. It seems to me to be more of a freedom from religion than a freedom of religion. This may be too much speculation of this cultural observation, but I think it’s the negative connotation that comes with religion that results in a 80% professed Catholic with only 5% among them who practice and attend mass regularly. France has some of the most elaborately decorated and architecturally complex Churches, but when Sunday comes around, a lot of them are very empty.

I know this can be a controversial topic, but it plays a huge role in France’s culture. So on a lighter note… I took advantage of this second to last week in France to bike a grand total of 24 miles to Villandry, a chateau along the Cher river which has some of the most beautiful gardens I’ve ever seen. Being in the Loire Valley, I’m fortunate enough to have easy access to many chateaus by bike, train, or bla-bla car (which is a ride sharing program). Like the many churches, the numerous chateaus are an important part of France’s patrimoine (heritage) and frequently have vineyards, as well. History and wine, what’s not to love about French castles??


À la semaine prochaine ! // See you next week!

Mangez biologique, c’est chic !

A review of my fourth week in tours, france

“If you are what you eat, then I only want to eat the good stuff.” – Remy, Disney/PIXAR’s Ratatouille

I met a real, French chef! 3 Michelin stars!! (jk lol)

I’ve passed the halfway point of my time in France, and with only two weeks left, I’m doing my best to appreciate my local favorites (crêperies, boulangeries) and engage in as much conversation as possible. What I’ve really started to notice this past week is the importance of la nourriture biologique (organic food) and a much more pronounced concern for the environment in general. But this post, I’m going to focus on the food part. Eating biologique, or bio for short, means not using pesticides and keeping your produce purchases local, respecting the season of each food. For example, when I arrived, all of the open-air markets were selling strawberries as it was nearing the end of the strawberry season. Now, when I pass by the fruit stands, the strawberries have been replaced by nectarines and peaches. Of course, the larger grocery stores follow the same track as those in America and import fruits from around the world to keep customers happy. However, the mass-produced, oversized strawberries in the coolers in January definitely pale in comparison to the brightred little berries in wooden boxes that the French go crazy for in May and June.

You say tomato, I say la tomate
A rainbow of peppers!








This past Sunday after mass at Sainte Jeanne d’Arc, I met a woman who worked at the open-air market close to my apartment while I was on the hunt for a jar of honey to bring back home. When I started asking her about the different products she sold (which included several cooking oils, tizanes (herbal teas) and herbs and the honey I was searching for), she explained that everything fell into the category of “organic”. In fact, it was a super small organization of 9 farmers from the region of the Loire which ensured that everything they sold was from less than 40 km away. The vendor compared her smaller selection of produce to that of the other larger stands which have produce from all over. “You can’t always be sure where you’re getting your food, and doesn’t taste as good.” this surprised me because I’d assumed all of the food sold at the open-air markets automatically meant it was local. I guess when I think about it, I did see some stands with avocados and I have yet to hear of avocado farms in France. She added, “even though you have to pay more, the taste of organic, hearty food is better and you don’t have to eat as much to feel full.” She pulled out her wholegrain bread from her shopping bag to show me and said, “I got this from the cart right over there and it’s complet (wholegrain), so it lasts me about a week. I go through a regular baguette a lot faster otherwise.” The production and sale of these organic, local food items is a full time job and passion for many, especially once you get into these market settings where (most of) the produce is from local farms. I think the emphasis on good food that has a good flavor is really emphasized because of France’s traditional affiliation with gourmet cuisine.

There definitely were not any vampires at this fair

This past week I discovered an open-air market particular to Tours: the foire à l’ail (the garlic fair). It only happens one day of the year, and it was one of the hottest days so far (I think we got to 100 F, but anyway…). The streets around the place du Monstre (Monster Square, named for the contemporary monster statue placed in the middle of a row of trees) were lined with produce stands selling, as you probably guessed, garlic. There were lots of other things for sale, too, and stores in the area took the opportunity to advertise their own wares, garlicky or not. The newest, hottest products added to the fair were chili peppers (also basil, but my pun works better if it’s just chilis). My classmate, Catriona, and I were offered cheese from one of the vendors on the street as we searched for refuge from the sun of the awnings over the stands. I took this opportunity to ask this français about this garlic festival and, of course, enjoy some free cheese in the shade. He explained that garlic was the orignal and more traditional item because it’s grown in the Touraine region, basilique (basil) and piments (chili peppers) come from the south of France where climates are warmer. Since it’s their season as well, and farmers want to reach more of the population, chili and basil plants have started to make an appearance over the last few years. While this fair isn’t strictly local or bio, I thought it was another good example of France’s appreciation of the food it produces.

The chilis really spice up this picture

In the classroom, we stick more to the fundamentals of what it means to have organic food in France. That along with ecological concerns has been a major subject of discussion over the past week. The two definitely become interwoven when pesticides and overproduction are brought up. Food is everything in France and many are worried with just how much their agriculture is affecting their health and that of the rest of the environment. This is the driving factor behind the move towards organic and local foods and the creation of the AB (agriculture biologique) label in 1985 to certify that the food meets certain standards like no pesticides or GMOs.

So I have two weeks left and I’ve since moved up to level C1 in my classes meaning we are focusing more on advancing conversational skills through understanding cultural references and recent events in France. I haven’t had as much time to focus on a personal journal in French (I was a bit ambitious at the start of the program), but I’m reading more French news sources, engaging in more French conversations, and enjoying more of Tours as my time in France is more and more limited.

Tout mon amitié ! // In friendship!

Des Petits chevaux et d’autres animaux : learning to be a kid again

A review of my third week in tours, france

“Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le Petit Prince // The Little Prince

Featured food of the week: ice cream at Place Plumereau

OK, c’est à toi,” Noa indicated that it was my turn to roll the die and move my little, plastic horse along the perimeter of the board. Noa is the 5 year-old grandson of Chantal, my host mom, and he was instructing me on how to play one of his favorite jeux de société (board games), Les Petits chevaux (the little horses). First you have to roll a six, then, starting from right outside your stable, you make your way around the spaces until you get back to your stable which consists of six places. To get to the first spot marked with a “1”, you first have to roll a one, then to advance you roll a two to get to the next spot, and it continues until you’ve gotten past all six spaces. To win, you have to once again roll a six, then you can proudly install your tired, little horse in the middle of the board… and start all over with a second horse. It’s not difficult to play, but as you can imagine, it can become tedious, especially if your opponent passes you up forcing you to restart all the way at the beginning.

Noa did his best to stay patient with me. He liked that I could speak English and he would exclaim “Yes!” or “What??” every once in a while (which he learned from French “Dora”), but beyond that I was just an American, blonde grown-up with French abilities not quite as good as his own and whom he’d only known for a little bit. As I was slightly distracted by a conversation with Chantal and the French news stations playing in the background, he had to remind me frequently to take my turn or re-roll the dice. Additionally, he made sure I was facing my game piece in the right direction, because I was a jockey who had a tendency to point my horse’s nose backwards and, according to Noa, “he has to go this way, you can’t go the other way!” I had a lot to learn about the rules of the race from this young professional.

We played a few other games, too, like a card-matching game and a game Noa invented which consisted of taking the dried-up moche fleurs (ugly flowers) from Mamie Chantal’s flower pots and throwing them over the side of the balcony (with her permission and adult supervision, of course). People would pass by to enter the apartment and he would warn them, “Attention ! Je jette des fleurs ! Watch out, I’m throwing flowers!” and he would then watch the petals spiral down through the air and fall into the street, sometimes successfully managing to drop them into a puddle. As with Les Petits chevaux, Noa was also a master of the matching game where he won every time except once when we tied. Each time he found a set of cards, he announced, “Mamie, look! I found another one! Je suis un beau gosse !” which made her giggle because essentially, as she explained later, what he was saying was, “I’m a stud!”

A flamboyance of flamingos

I learned some more “popular language” from Noa’s remarks during these games. Being so young, he didn’t understand what he was saying, but I knew some of it had a more mature meaning when Chantal or his father would correct him and ask with a shocked expression, “Where on earth did you learn that?” I’m finding that it wasn’t just my siblings and I that picked up the particular phrases from the TV or the street that confounded our parents: this method of language acquisition seems to be universal.

un paon

Another means of education in both the States and France is to visit animals at the zoo. This was one of my first “classrooms” where I learned about the various animals from around the world. In the same way, when I visited the botanical garden in Tours (which is much smaller than a zoo), I learned about the animals and plant life from the plaques throughout the garden and by asking questions. From there, I relearned the name of the paon (peacock) and the poule (chicken) and discovered the origins of the émeu (emu) and wallaby. It seemed a little bizarre at 21 to be figuring this out again. This sentiment applies to just about everything I’m learning in France: I have to learn like a child.

While I’m definitely more comfortable listening to and speaking French since my arrival, I have yet to perfect my interactions with the French. When I approach a native French-speaker and ask them about something basic to the French culture, at first I get a puzzled look (I’m not sure if it’s because my pronunciation isn’t perfect, or they are just surprised I don’t know the answer for myself), then once I clarify that I’m American and I study at the Institut de Touraine, I get one of two responses. The first is more positive and usually includes a story about how the person has visited America, loves American TV (the show “Friends” is really popular in France), or is interested in learning more English. The other is not quite as receptive. It entails either a political discussion asking where I stand with the current President (because in France, politics are always fair game), or being generally closed off because I’m not French. This happens much less frequently.

After asking around for some general stereotypes of Americans to see what may have provoked these more negative responses, I discovered Americans are frequently perceived as obnoxiously loud people who smile too much, are selfish (especially in wanting everyone else to speak English), and then political tensions get tossed on top of all of it just for fun. I’ll confess to talking loudly in public, being very smiley for no particular reason, and, when I first came to France, I would quickly switch to English in hopes that the person I was talking with spoke my maternal language. Since I’ve spent about 7 years now studying French and I’m still not completely confident in my speaking and listening abilities, I’ve learned it’s unrealistic to hope everyone else who isn’t native to an anglophone country is fluent in English. Learning another language is extremely difficult, which is something I had taken for granted before coming to France.

La grande roue at Pont Wilson

In other news, I’ve since passed the DELF B2 proficiency exam and received my level B2 diplome (certificate)! I still have a lot of work to do in French, so I’ll just keep learning like a kid and enjoying the few weeks I have left!

À bientôt ! // See you soon!

Coucou ! C’est moi, Jane !

Vive la patrie !

A Review of my second week in tours, france

« On est champion ! » // “We are the champions!” –  the French people of Tours // Freddy Mercury

Sunset over the Loire

Another very warm week has come and gone in France and what have I learned?

Selfies at the Guinguette
  • Abbreviations and fillers : So, uhh, English isn’t the only language with words that don’t mean anything and shortcuts, ya’ know. For example, j’suis (meaning “I’m,” pronounced shwee), j’sais pas (meaning “I dunno,” pronounced shay pah), ben… (meaning “well…,” pronounced bah) typically said at the beginning of a statement to get your words rolling and you can throw a quoi (meaning “what,” pronounced kwah) at the end of a sentence for emphasis, although it has literally no significance to the context… While all these all may be commonly spoken, grammatically they are most definitely incorrect and I won’t put them in a French paper at the risk of a bad grade. However, once you know the basics of the language and enough vocabulary to stay afloat in an inundation of French words and cultural references, it’s the ability to add these into a conversation that makes it seem like you really know what you’re talking about. I’ve been trying out this nuanced communication method at the vending machines with my morning coffee: “Bof ! J’suis trop fatiguée, moi !” ( meaning “I’m so tired”, pronounced bowf shwee troh faahteegay mwah). If my accent didn’t give me away and maybe I wore stripes and a beret and carried a baguette*, I’d like to think people would believe I was French.

*side note: French people don’t actually wear stripes or berets on a daily basis, but I have seen more than a few carrying baguettes through the streets*

  • Anglicisms : OK, c’est super cool, ça ! The French and English have a history in trading with each other, especially with regard to language. From what I’ve been hearing in conversations, it’s fairly commonplace to have at least 5 English words every 30 seconds (this is a rough estimation, I haven’t recorded any actual data). While the intent is to complement the language with words that don’t quite translate into French and adopting them with the lovely French accent, this “slang” that the younger generations like to use is not always appreciated by their elders. I’ve talked to professors and other adults who are completely opposed to these shortcuts which are, in their opinions, invading the French language. I’ve even seen advertisements that promote the protection of the French language as one of the purest symbols of the French culture. From this point of view, every English phrase absorbed by the French culture should be immediately replaced by a French equivalent. Others like my host mom, Chantal, really don’t mind these anglicisms. For her, it’s a question of having known a good amount of English already and the frequent usage is really more in the language of “les jeunes” (young people). So it’s just as critical for her in the context of intergenerational communication with her son or her neighbors, for instance. However, at the end of our discussion on this topic she finished by saying, “really though, some words you just don’t need English for.” This was, of course, stated in French. The bottomline is anglicisms aren’t always appreciated, but they are used in just about every conversation.


  • Formal letters and basic anatomy, a lesson on cultural context : As I’m approaching the date of my DELF B2 proficiency exam, I’ve been spending a significant amount of time learning the organization of several types of common French documents like formal letters, the essay, commentaries, blog posts, and letters to the editor. These common, written means of communication, which I normally don’t think twice about, have been my main focus. At first I thought, sure, I shouldn’t have any trouble writing a letter to a mayor or director of a company and maintaining an opinion, but as I went through the review, I realized that the French culture had its own particular way of presenting this kind of information. The level of formality is especially accentuated by the use of vous, the formal “you”, which is at the base of such correspondences. Practicing this skill of writing a letter in and of itself isn’t terribly difficult, but it took some work for my mind to readjust and accept this different representation of something that was familiar to me in the context of my own culture. Similarly with learning basic anatomy and the run-down of a general medical consultation in French, I feel as if I’m starting again at square one. In this case, the medical field in French is shaped not only by a different vocabulary, but also a different healthcare system than what I’m accustomed to. While I’m essentially just learning a new vocabulary that allows me to communicate via a written statement or in a medical setting, the lessons go beyond that. If I truly want to understand the words I’m saying, I have to understand the culture that they stemmed from and then I can apply them in a letter about the importance of les pauses (breaktime) in France or in an exchange with a patient to determine the cause of her mal au foie (liver pain).
Risotto à la française (AKA with French wine)
  • The food is phenomenal and Tours is a walking city : Good thing, too. I think I’ve eaten my weight in baguettes and cheese sinceI’ve arrived. Well, maybe not that much, but I’ve definitely been appreciating la nourriture française. Fun fact: French gastronomy is recognized as a symbol of cultural heritage in France and I can attest to that. While I love a good meal loaded with carbs and butter, getting some exercise is not a bad idea. Moderation and balance are key! Given that I am struggling to figure out the summer hours of the public transportation schedule, I take at least two 30 minute walks everyday. The apartment I’m in is located in the part of the city closer to the Cher river on the south side of town while the institute where I take classes is in the center of Tours and nearer to the Loire river. It’s a scenic walk especially if walk through the park (Jardin des Prébendes d’Oé), so I don’t mind getting my steps in this way. Apparently, Tours has become more and more of a town focused on non-car transportation. According to the locals, the city removed the parking spaces in the middle of town a few years ago to install a tramway. Also, I’ve seen lots of purple rental bikes called “indigo weels” which are reminiscent of the many “lime bikes” I’ve seen around South Bend. Anyways,
    Les fleurs du trottoir // sidewalk flowers

    there are a good number of individuals who don’t depend on gasoline to get to their destinations whether that’s school, work, or a marketplace where shoppers usually tote a wheeled grocery caddy behind themselves to make hauling groceries easier. Coming full circle back to the food, I’ve noticed that the French will go to grocery stores and markets more frequently than us Americans. They tend to purchase less given that they take multiple trips throughout the week whereas we, or at least my family and I, purchase groceries like we are preparing for Armageddon. Maybe it’s because the stores are relatively closer to people’s homes in the more densely packed French cities making it more convenient to get to a grocery store, or maybe more of a priority is given to fresh food preparation? Whatever the cause is, this is a cultural difference I’m beginning to notice.

My attempt at getting a good picture of the fireworks
  • Patriotism and football : This past week, especially the weekend, was filled with bleu, blanc et rouge (blue, white and red… it feels strange reversing the red and the blue) for the colors of France. It really has been an extended celebration of this country starting with the first stages of the Tour de France, continuing on with Bastille Day (la Fête Nationale), and wrapping up with the final game of the Soccer World Cup where France beat Croatia 4-2. The Tour de France is an iconic race between cyclists from around the world to bike about 3,500 km/2,200 mi around the country it’s named for. This began Saturday, July 7th, and exactly one week later, July 14th, France celebrated its unification around the revolution during 1790. I had the chance to see the fireworks which were displayed over the Loire river near one of the favorite, local hangouts, the Guinguette. My friends and I stayed on the upper part of the pathway along the river’s edge for a better view above the trees and because there were so many people in the lower part that you couldn’t see the ground! But if I thought there were a lot of people for le 14 Juillet, there were even more for the final game of the World Cup on Sunday. I went to another preferred meet-up spot of the Tourangeaux (people of
    Allons enfants de la Patrie, le jour de gloire est arrivé !

    Tours), Place Plumereau, where the streets were filled with spectators draped in flags and covered in face paint hoping to catch a glimpse of the game on one of the TVs of the many cafés on what was arguably the hottest day of the summer. When France scored a goal, the crowds erupted with cheering, jumping, and singing of the national anthem, the Marseillaise. When France won, this energy was amplified one hundred times. The songs and general sense of fraternity went on for hours; drivers honked there horns and shouts of “on est champion” rang out till the early hours of the morning. Apparently, this victory is supposed to raise the presidential approval rating of President Macron by at least 8% and one of the most remarkable statements I heard after the game was that no other event has had the same efficiency in bringing the French together on the streets since the end of World War II. There’s nothing like a good soccer game to unite an entire country.

Le drapeau tricolore // the French flag

Well, that’s all for now! I’ll keep working on my listening comprehension, speaking and writing abilities to get to the goals I’ve set for myself, but I was so glad I got to be present for such a culturally significant week in France.

À plus tard // See you later!


Allez les bleus ! : Greetings from the country of football and fromage

A review of my first week in Tours, France

“How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?” Charles de Gaulle


After a long flight from Chicago to Paris and a few more hours on the train from the airport, I found myself in the picturesque center of Tours (pronounced without the “s”). Severely exhausted yet eager to begin this adventure in France, I stepped off the train with heavy eyelids and heavy bags and made my way down the platform to meet my “host mom”, Chantal. She’s a tall, brunette woman with full curls and a warm smile who has invited me to live with her, her dog Luna, and her cat Mimi while I attend courses at the Institut de Touraine. The afternoon that followed gave an overview of the culture I would be immersed in over the next six weeks.


In a car just big enough for the both of us and my bags, we passed by the elaborate architecture of the town hall (l’hôtel de ville) and a pedestrian pathway protected from the sun by a canopy of trees. I’d noticed the summer heat as soon as I’d stepped off the plane, but now, being directly in the sun without the luxurious surplus of AC I knew in the states, the temperature really made itself known. It was hot (il faisait chaud). This was the first part of life in France I had to acclimate myself to. The French are used to the heatwave that passes through every summer and indoor cooling systems aren’t commonplace. An oscillating fan and an open window give some relief when indoors, but patience is the only way to get through the days of 90+ degrees Farenheit.


Nonetheless, the heat doesn’t seem to be an obstacle for the people of Tours. Pedestrians fill the streets and plazas to observe one of the most important events in France: the world cup (la coupe du monde). Sure, there’s also the Tour de France that’s getting started, but le foot takes precedence at this moment. When I arrived in Tours, Les Bleus had just won a match and the locals were decked out in their finest French flag capes accompanied by blue, white and red face paint. They then packed into cars and sounded their horns to announce the victory. This is celebratory sound-off is also common after marriages, according to Chantal… minus the sports paraphernalia.


To get to the point, the busy town of Tours has plenty of opportunities to engage in the French culture. I just have to step out of the apartment building and, voilà,  there’s an open-air market where I can discuss with vendors and learn about the local produce (I’m mostly interested in the cheese, to be honest), I can attend mass at one of the many ancient churches nearby and hear


it all in French, or I can stroll over to one of the local parks and read a plaque detailing the several century history of the immense coniferous trees which are dispersed throughout the area.  I don’t have to venture that far for a good lesson in French either. I’ve found that I’ve made the most progress in speaking and understanding French right at the dinner table.

Chantal and I usually spend about an hour and a half to two hours eating dinner, which is typical in a French home. Needless to say, we end up talking quite a bit. She’s hosted students for about 20 years, so she recounts some of her favorite stories of time passed with them and shares the lessons they learned while adjusting to the culture. These discussions have helped me to get immersed in the language outside of class and engage in relevant topics in France like politics, money and religion. I was a bit nervous to get into these faux pas subjects, but I was encouraged when I found myself able to express my opinions in another language. Apart from these denser topics, we’ll talk about how the day went, the recipe for the dinner we’re about the enjoy (my host mom is an excellent cook, by the way), or something


that Luna did that made Chantal laugh. My abilities in French are sufficient to get me through dinner without too much confusion, but I still have a lot to work on. I struggle with the gender of the words, my grammar needs some refreshing, and I can’t always compose a thought in French as quickly as the conversation moves. I’m planning on keeping a French journal, listening more frequently to radio stations like RFI or FranceInter, and conversing more with native French-speakers to help both my production and comprehension of French.


An exciting day turned into an exciting week and I’m off to what I believe is a good start. I’ll be keeping myself busy with the classwork and preparing for the DELF B2 proficiency exam while I attempt to keep up with the other language supplements, but I’ll still make time to appreciate what the French culture has to offer. I’m looking forward to being here for the 14th of July, the national holiday of France, and I hear the fireworks display in Tours is especially impressive.

Until the next time (À la prochaine)!