La Ville Rose
I’m a STEM major—an engineering guy—a physics enthusiast with a bit of a passion for economics on the side. I usually spend my academic hours in the lab, or otherwise in a professor’s office getting extemporaneous assistance on some mathematical problem set. But this term is a little different. Now, I’m finding myself visiting museums in Toulouse, taking a European art history course, and sipping wine in the south of France; it’s safe to say that this is a little out of the ordinary.
What happened? Well, it was as easy as an application; I’ve always wanted to study abroad and I’ve always been passionate about learning the French language, so it wasn’t really a question as to where I wanted to go. After just picking a term, I found out that I had the prerequisites satisfied for the Toulouse LSA+ (Language Study Abroad, the plus meaning it’s more advanced than the normal LSA), and so it was just a couple questions on an online form. Now, I’m visiting castles, tasting plenty of new food, and foremost learning to love the city subway, and I couldn’t be more excited for the term to come.
At first, life here was certainly a bit of an adjustment; I didn’t realize how little French I actually knew until I arrived in Toulouse and suddenly had to navigate daily life with a couple textbooks’ worth of vocabulary. Thankfully, my host family has been incredibly accommodating, and now after finally fighting off the jet-lag, I’m conclusively settling into my schedule. For class each morning, I take the subway across the city to Mirail Université, where I’m taking the equivalent of three Dartmouth courses with five different professors. Two of those profs specialize in art history, and they’re taking us around the city and even the country (not excluding to the Louvre) to view works of art from throughout French history. My other courses consist of a French literature class on the narration of passion (taught by Dartmouth’s own Professor Walker), a history course, and the inevitable grammar and composition class. While this might be an LSA, I can say for certain that I’m doing far more than just studying the French language; the cultural education is gladly much greater than I ever could have expected, and it’s incredibly enriching.
For somebody who had never before been to Europe—and somebody who hadn’t left the East Coast before heading off on excursions with Dartmouth clubs—the sightseeing has been incredible. My host family this weekend brought me all the way to the Mediterranean coast, stopping along the way to see a beautiful cathedral in a little historic town, and also a grand military fortress where we got to walk along the medieval ramparts. Toulouse itself is also full of wonders; it’s called the Pink City in France because its buildings are made from pink-tinted stone, and it makes for some wonderful sights. Plus, exploring the streets with the other Dartmouth students has been spectacular, and finding a new little bakery to sit down with a pastry and relax is always a fun time. All and all, with even more excursions to come (and even a week-and-a-half long break for us to explore Europe), I can’t wait for what’s to come. Good luck getting me to come back home!