This article was written by senior Andrew Lupton.
I have been taking French classes for most of my life now. The culture and the language are fascinating to learn about. During my junior year, I decided to apply for a position in the Indiana University Language Honors program. I was accepted and assigned a French hometown along the Atlantic Coast of the country. The program was roughly seven weeks long, and during that time, I was only supposed to speak in French. We were not allowed to speak English at all. I left on June seventh and returned July twenty-sixth. The city I stayed in is named Brest and it is located on the westernmost part of France that stretches out into the Atlantic Ocean. The city and the surrounding population add up to around 500,000.
My travel group consisted of thirty-one Hoosier students and four guides who were taking classes at IU. Each student was assigned a host family for the duration of their stay. My host family was a great match! My host mother was a secretary for a law-firm, and my father was a pet sitter. I also had a nineteen year-old brother named Romain who was on summer vacation while I was with him. I ate great food at their house, partially because my father was a chef for a number of years. But I ate well in general, of course, since I was in France (one of the great culinary capitals of the world).
Every day of the school week, all of the American students would have classes with the IU students. Our four courses were Literature, Culture, Linguistics, and Grammar. A class lasted roughly an hour. Each class was taught by one of the guides from IU. On Mondays, all of the students went outside to play games like badminton or throw a Frisbee around. Every afternoon on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, every student went to do a specialized activity. Students could do choir, acting, or improvised acting. I did improvised acting every day.
The courses kept us busy, but I never felt overwhelmed by the work while I was abroad. The studies are designed to help the Americans adjust to life in a different country. While we were busy, we did not work all of the time. We went on weekly excursions to surrounding areas. Our guides took us to historical sites and many different little villages. I was really amazed at how old things are in France. Americans will hear about a house that was built in the eighteen hundreds, and say “That’s so old!” In France, I visited many buildings and villages that date back to the Medieval Ages.
The trip was a fantastic experience! The French-only program improved my speaking proficiency the language tremendously. By the end of the trip, I was much more comfortable talking with natives. Living in a foreign country for several weeks made me feel much more confidant in my abilities. I feel more prepared for when I will live on my own during college. It was so fun making friends while I was abroad. You really can make deep relationships with others, even without your mother tongue. I have no one memory that I can call a favorite. There were so many cool things that happened to me over there. One day I hope to go back to Brest.