A picture of the Dartmouth Green in the Fall with beautiful fall foliage.
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A picture of the French LSA+ Cohort.

Wow, my last week studying abroad in Toulouse, France on the LSA+ (Language Study Abroad) has been amazing! This week has included a lot of adjusting:to the new time zone (6 hours ahead!), new country, my great host family, professors who only speak/teach in French, and the fully immersive experience (I signed a contract to try to only speak French while here!).

A picture of me standing in front of the basilique Saint-Sernin, an important and historic catholic church in Toulouse.
This historic and important catholic church is one of the many beauties in Toulouse!

Starting off, my travel journey before I even touched down in France made for a story I'll be telling for the next few years. I flew out of DC on Friday evening, arrived in London for a quick 2 hour layover in the early morning on Saturday and landed in Toulouse just 1 hour later. The 1st leg of my trip was a bit comical (more so annoying at the time) because I was sitting in a middle seat in between a couple who of course still wanted to speak to each other across my seat. Then, during the 2nd leg I ended up sitting in the same aisle as a French man who had asked me a question in the boarding line (my first spoken French interaction) and we went on to talk in French for the entire Flight, plus we had a free middle seat! I was very thankful for his willingness to speak to me in my slightly butchered French. I told him that I was in France to continue learning the language and found out that he was actually a high school teacher!

Upon arrival, there was some slight confusion between the Security Officers and I since they initially thought I needed a visa and not just my passport to enter the country since visa rules are currently changing for Americans. Thankfully, after a few minutes they welcomed me in, and I proceeded to baggage claim to meet my host family who were kindly picking me up from the airport! It was great to finally meet them after I had been matched with them at the beginning of winterim (winter break) and had been in correspondence over email and WhatsApp. The family of 5 slightly resembles my family in age range, and the parents drove me to their house where I met the rest of the family; two teenagers (& one college student not living at home) plus their cat and dog (who's living with them as he's in training to be a guide dog for the blind.) 

After having lunch with the family and getting refreshed after the flights, I took a long nap (or siesta as they say here) and woke up a bit before dinner time. Throughout the week I continued to enjoy French meals with the family. The way it works here—since I don't have a Dartmouth dining plan—is that the family provides me breakfast every day and I share 5 dinners with them throughout the week. For all of us students, lunch is our responsibility, so we've enjoyed discovering delicious food places together that have actually been pretty cost friendly; I can buy a good sandwich for just 4.40 euros! 

A picture of some people in the cohort at a traditional French lunch together with an enthusiastic photobomber in the background (very common here).
Just as excited to be here as the enthusiastic photobomber in the background.

On Sunday, I was able to meet up with two friends in my cohort in the Capitol Center of Toulouse. We found a really great cafe ironically called "Le Florida," and drank hot chocolates as we excitedly discussed our hopes for the new experience. On Monday, we had an orientation session at the Dickinson Center which is where we take all of our classes. It is uniquely just for American study abroad students and we actually bumped into some Washington University students even though we only take classes with the students in our Dartmouth cohort. It's also great that Toulouse is a very big university student city, so I definitely hope to befriend some French students while I'm here. Throughout the rest of the week, we attended our classes which include Intro to French Literature, Advanced Writing & Speaking in French, and a class taught by two professors at different times that encompasses Art History, Culture and Politics. 

A picture of my friends and I at the café Le Florida.
Hot chocolates warmed us up in the French cold (which is not as cold as Hanover's thankfully!)

We were also able to discover the city since our class schedule is very agreeable; we usually have one or two classes a day and the earliest is at 10:00 am (very different from my 8:50 am class last term). On Fridays, we don't have an official class but instead meet every other week for discussions on modern and contemporary history with a Professor over a delicious traditional French lunch (that's also free!). On Saturday, some of us in the cohort met up for dinner, then we were all invited by our Professor (& program director who's come with us from Dartmouth) to her house for dinner and a film on Sunday night. We watched "Cyrano, Mon Amour," which is a film about the making of the popular French play "Cyrano de Bergerac." The food she made was delicious, and the night was a great way to wrap up our first week!

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