AUCP students have a lot in common. Whether they’re studying in Aix or in Marseille, they share a passion for all things French, a commitment to go the extra mile to reach French fluency, the desire to become part of the local community and to create lasting friendships in France, they come from top American universities and are often among the brightest in their class.
And while they share a lot, each one is unique. Today, we’d like you to meet Colleen. This is part of an on-going series on Le Blog designed to introduce you to current AUCP students, and to show you how, despite their many similarities, they each have their own unique way of living with and like the French at the AUCP.
Colleen is an AUCP student who comes to us from Providence College. An English and French major, this is Colleen’s first time in France .
Bonjour Colleen! For starters, how would you sum up your time at the AUCP?
I love France, it’s definitely living up to all of my expectations. My first few weeks were harder than I thought they would be – I didn’t really feel like I could communicate everything that I wanted to in French. But I’m glad I chose the AUCP – I’ve learned so much, and I’ve become so much more confident in my French skills. I can’t believe that I’ve been here for more than half of the semester already…I’m so glad I chose Aix instead of going to Paris. Provence is so much more traditional and real, and coming from Washington DC, Aix is much more laid back and easygoing.
Can you tell us a little bit about your French language partner?
My French language partner’s name is Bastien. He recently graduated, and works as a sports instructor for little kids. We meet up for lunch or dinner every week or so, and just catch up on our week. We’re both pretty busy, him with work, and me with class and everything else! I hang out with other students and their language partners too.
What are you doing for your community service?
I volunteer at the local « Club Jeunes » near my host parents house. It’s basically an afterschool program for middle schoolers, from 10-14 years old. I get a group of 3-4 kids at a time, and help them with their homework. We play games too – HeadsUp, Sherades & Scrabble – which has been great for my French vocabulary!
What club or personal interest activity did you choose?
I joined a language exchange club called Franglish. It’s two hours each week at a local café and we get free tea! You sit across from a French person, and speak English with them. Then the organizers ring a bell, and we switch languages to start speaking French. Bell rings, and you switch partners. It’s a great way to practice the language, learn slang, and has helped me a lot with my confidence in speaking French with strangers! Each time I go, I meet new and different French people.
What is your favorite class so far?
Honestly, I thought that the class on Business and Culture of French Wines was going to be my favorite class – and I really enjoy it, but it’s actually way harder than I thought it was going to be! Who knew wine was so complicated! But I LOVE my linguistic strategies class, which I wasn’t expecting. I really enjoy learning new expressions that I can use in my daily life here – it’s such a useful and practical class. Honestly I think it’s the one that has helped me the most in French.
And finally, can you tell us about your host family?
I adore my host family. Jean-Pierre and Marie-Noëlle (really) have two kids – Gwion is around my age and then David is in his thirties and has three adorable kids. They live in this amazing old building, it’s an old windmill! Jean-Pierre works in antiques and Marie-Noëlle is retired, but she helps Jean-Pierre out a lot. Marie-Noëlle is an excellent cook, and I look forward to dinnertime, not just for the food, but also because it’s an opportunity to just sit and talk about our days together. It just facilitates speaking French, and I learn new things every single day. I’m so glad that I had this opportunity to live in a host family instead of alone in an apartment or with other Americans. I feel like apartment living when abroad would have been a sort of microcosm that wouldn’t have really shared in French society. My host family is part of French culture and French society, and because I’m with them, I’m part of it too.