The Study Abroad Experience: Part 1
If there is one thing that I have learned since I began college, it's that time flies. Just weeks ago, I finished my junior year at Dartmouth. I spent that spring studying abroad in Toulouse, France, and it was one of my favorite quarters to date. I'll be sharing some of my experiences with you through this three-part series. So, without further ado, the French LSA!
When I first entered Dartmouth, I was told by virtually every upperclassman that studying abroad was one of the best experiences Dartmouth had to offer—and for many of them, their quarter abroad had been their favorite term of college. Though this made the programs sound very enticing, I did not think I'd participate in a program due to busy schedules and, after spending a year studying remotely, a desire to spend more time on campus.
However, as COVID-19 cases plummeted, Dartmouth was able to carry out additional study abroad programs in France, and opened the application process to all of campus. Seeing the email, I asked myself, "when else in my life can I go to France for 10 weeks?" So, I went for it. I completed the application, moved on to interviews, and voilà, I was all set to participate in the Spring 2022 French Language Study Abroad (LSA) program.
At the time that I was accepted to the program, I had never taken a French class in my life. Thankfully, most of the Dartmouth's study abroad programs allow students to apply for the trips without having completed the prerequisites. So, as was the case for me, it's possible to be accepted to a program with the condition that you will complete the requirements before the start date. I completed the courses just in time, and then I was on my way!
I arrived at the Toulouse airport mid-March. When I exited the plane and grabbed my luggage, I was greeted by my host family. The LSAs are structured so you learn to live like the locals—and what better way to do that, than to live with the locals. I spent my time in France living with Monsieur Bernard and Madame Christiane. They were amazing hosts! I'll admit that there was quite a language gap between us when we first spoke at the airport but, over time, my French improved and we got to know each other better and better.
After packing my things in the trunk, we made our way home to their lovely townhome near the center of Toulouse. They showed me to my room, and gave me a small tour of the house before giving me some time to settle in a bit before dinner. At that moment, I had only been in France for a few hours, but I already knew that the next 10 weeks would be awesome.