AUCP Fall 2015 student, Stefani Kuo from Yale, spent her summer in the picturesque town of Uzès in the South of France, working on a French farm. “I really wanted to be immersed in the culture again! When you study a foreign language in class at your home university, it’s great, but when you actually live in the country where the language is spoken, that’s when you really experience it! Plus, I love being able to go to the market, meet people and expand my network of French friends,” says Stefani.
So Stefani, with so many temptations for the summer, why choose to work on a farm in France?
My semester at the AUCP was when I realized how much I loved the French language and culture. I decided to return to France when I was back at Yale last semester, and I received a grant to write a play in 3 languages – English, French and Chinese (both Cantonese and Mandarin). For someone like me who has moved a lot, I really feel at home here in France, so I looked into different ways I could experience living with a French family and write at the same time. Since I was looking for a real immersion experience similar to the AUCP, I decided that living on a farm would be ideal for me!
What was your typical day like on the farm?
Basically, we would wake up at 7, have a nice typical French breakfast with my family (mother, father and two twin brothers) which included bread, butter, homemade jam, juice and coffee before walking the dog and feeding the cats. And then before it got too hot, we would go pick not only apricots, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, tomatoes and lettuce, but also herbs and flowers including roses and lavender. Plus, twice a week, I would accompany the family to the market to sell their fresh produce. Lunch was usually my responsibility and I loved preparing meals – both Western and Asian dishes. My host mother taught me how to make a delicious Cherry pie and croque-monsieur. I had the afternoons free, so I’d travel to towns around Uzès, including Nîmes and Avignon. I would also spend time with the neighbors who had approximately 50 goats and they even taught me how to milk them and how to make goat cheese! I am now a specialist! 🙂
How did you manage to organize this opportunity for yourself?
Well, I found the family on workaway.info. Before making my choice, I was in contact with 15 families in France and after skyping with my host mom, I made up my mind and I wouldn’t have chosen a better family, especially because my host mom loves Asia!
What was it like, your second experience living with a French family?
Well, I still keep in touch with my AUCP host family (and I’m staying with them now in Aix for a week). This time in Uzès, it’s been another great experience! I invested a lot of effort and quickly became part of the family. We spent a lot of time together and quickly became very close, including with the twins and their friends! My most memorable memories with them include going to the ‘festival du pont du Gard’ and the Soccer Euro Cup final!
And your progress in French… how is that going?
When I first arrived in Aix, I was tired very quickly because I had to speak French ALL the time! But my goal was to be fluent, and because of my willingness to really make progress, I improved a lot. My TEF score went from a B1 (high intermediate) to a B2 (advanced) level, and when I left Aix, I really felt great! I had achieved my objective! Back at Yale, I was missing speaking the language, so I continued being exposed to French by taking advanced level classes and by traveling to Guadeloupe and Montreal. I’m very happy to say that returning to France and speaking French 24/7 on the farm was exactly the kind of experience that I needed!
So you only spoke French during your time there?
Yes, as I said before, I was looking for a real French immersion like the one I had at the AUCP.
What did you learn from this experience?
I realized that irrespective of different cultures, we all do similar things! But now I really enjoy the present moment and how to appreciate the simple wonders of life even more!
Now a last question: What can you tell us about your play?
My play is about the abandonment and the findings of identity and home in languages. I will send you a copy when I finish it!
Merci Stefani ! Meet more AUCP students, here.
Ready to spend a semester or year abroad, like Stefani? Registration is now open for Spring 2017 and Summer 2017. The AUCP has a ‘‘rolling admissions’’ policiy and thus does not have an official application deadline; however, places are limited and priority will be given to applications received by NOVEMBER 1st for the Spring semester, MARCH 15th for Summer. So don’t wait: APPLY NOW, HERE!