After a long day of courses and speaking French all day, we (the active, energetic students from HC that we are) began speaking English on the tram coming back from the day at the University. Talking about this and that in our American accent remarkable by perhaps anyone on the tram, there was one (also American) woman on the tram sitting a mere one seat away who took notice.
“Are you guys international students or something?” she asks. We reply why yes indeed – we’re study abroad students. After asking from what school, things get interesting real fast:
“We go to a school called Holy Cross.”
“In Massachusetts?” she asks. *We all look at each other*
“Yeah – do you know it?”
“Yeah,” she says. “My brother and my sister went there!”
What are the chances that we meet someone in France, the same city, the same part of town, the same tram line, the same tram itself, the same time of day, all the way down to the seat, that has a remarkably close connection to Holy Cross? The chances must be ludicrously low – but I suppose that what they say is true : no matter where you go, Holy Cross is always a part of you (and apparently, no matter how far you go, it is not far enough to escape it. Even other continents). Like it or not, HC will follow you everywhere.
She took the following selfie to send to her siblings (huge flex) and I thought it best to blur her face (cause ya know, privacy or something)
As of a few days ago, I have moved into my host family’s home in Dijon, giving me time to really look back on my month in Tours and everything it had to offer.
L’institut de Touraine in Tours, France (where we had our preliminary language courses) was a fairly good time among all. Essentially, the courses are structured with an ongoing curriculum such that new students can arrive each week and join their assigned classes without disrupting any new material. Arguably my favorite subject throughout the whole month of courses was that of verlan (a slang used by the youngsters of France consisting of inverting the syllables of a word to form a new one) as well as des expressions idiomatiques (idiomatic expressions). Learning how the French actually speak and what they actually say becomes extremely helpful so that we are able to adopt it to our vocabulary which, due to the nature of things, consists mainly of rather formal and professional French.
The best part of l’Institut, however, was the people and friends we all made. I never would have guessed that I would make friends from England, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Russia, and elsewhere. Not only that, we became relatively close – we would all go out to lunch together at des Sandwicheries or sometimes something a little different like sitting outside at the always-present surplus of cafés, and then regroup at La Guinguette sur la Loire (a rather popular bar on the Loire river) to hang out in the evenings. You’ll find that when everyone comes from different places, we’re all looking to make friends – so it becomes easy! Everyone introduces everyone to everyone else, and groups become bigger and bigger. The ties I have made in a months’ time have already created tentative plans to visit friends in one or two of the aforementioned countries, so I’m grateful to l’Institut for that.
During our time in Tours we partook in a number of excursions sponsored by l’Institut : Le Mont St. Michel en Normandie, St. Malo en Bretagne, Loches, as well as le château de Chenenceau. All of these places were formidable with their architecture, the sights, and simply seeing these structures reminds you not only of how old France is, be also how young the United States are. In my eyes, the United States now feel like an infant compared to the adult-aged…well…rest of the world.
Here are some highlights of the châteaux, the places we visited, as well as yet another Paris weekend excursion. A fair warning – the pictures do not in any way/shape/form compare to the the views with your own eyes; they are infinitely better in person, so if you’re ever in the neighborhood…well, you know where to go.