Happy Bastille Day!

That’s right, when you spend the summer in France, you don’t commemorate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but instead you celebrate the storming of a prison!

The time we have spent in Montpellier has been great, and there is so much to talk about so I’ll try to cut it down to just the best, starting with my classes.  I know you would never expect the words “the best” and “class” to be put into the same sentence, but here they are!  Even though its bright and early every morning, going to my grammar class is very interesting.  The professor teaches the class in a way to explain why everything is the way it is, not just that it is.  The class has instilled an interest in French grammar in me that I didn’t think could or even should exist.  My favorite part about the classes we take though is the diverse atmosphere.  I get to spend every day in class with American, Dutch, Sudanese, Italian, German, Kuwaiti, Ukrainian, and Mexican students that all add a different perspective to the learning environment.

Now onto the fun stuff!  Being in France makes for great opportunities to take trips around to various neighboring cities and countries, which we have taken full advantage of!  On our first weekend in Montpellier, we spent a day in Nîmes visiting a roman amphitheater and a 200o year old bridge called Pont du Gard.  I also left for a weekend with some friends to nearby Barcelona to take in the Gaudi sights and enjoy some delicious paella.  And this weekend we have a trip planned to Avignon to dance on its bridge (you know, from the song!) and experience the renowned Festivale d’Avignon.

I think, however, that my favorite moments have been spending time in Montpellier.  One day, two friends and I got lost looking around the city’s old quarter and turned around to see Montpellier’s version of the Arc de Triomphe and the Place de Peyrou, the highest point in the city.  It was such a beautiful day and we got to spend it sitting on a bench by the monuments and taking in the sights, all completely by accident!

That’s about it for now… Happy Bastille Day everyone!

Me at the Pont du Gard
At the top of Parc Güell in Barcelona
Place de Peyrou, the highest point in Montpellier

Bonjour from Montpellier!

Our William and Mary group arrived in Montpellier this week after a “twampy” takeover of Paris.  The city was beautiful and there was always something to do, but I am excited to make it to the South of France where life is much more relaxing, or “tranquile” as the French say!

Paris, however, was still full of some great adventures, the best of which I would love to recap with you!  I got to Paris with my mom a little early so that we could see the sights before the rest of the group arrived.  My favorite part of that week was definitely seeing an old friend, Audelaure.  She came to stay with my family for a study abroad experience when she was 18, and became so close with us that we have continued to keep in touch over the years.  We finally met up again in Paris, 14 years later, and this time my mom and I got to meet her husband and 2-year-old son, Leonard.  The reminder of how close my family was able to get with a student that we hosted made me very excited to get to know my French host family and start the bonding ASAP!

Once the group got here, we saw all the unavoidable tourist sights (including a stereotypically French strike at the Musée d’Orsay!).  Because most of the main monuments are erected along the Seine (the river that runs through Paris), we were able to take a very fun boat tour of the city.  This was a great way to get a peak into Parisian life because not only did we get to appreciate the architecture, but we also got to enjoy some great people watching, as a popular French activity seemed to be picnics along the Seine.

Although the group of 20 picture-taking, loud-talking, crèpe-eating Americans might have seemed a little obnoxious for the super stylish Parisians we were surrounded with, we all thoroughly enjoyed our short stay in Paris and are excited for what is to come in Montpellier!

Preparing for France!

This semester, my favorite question to be asked was what my summer plans are because I knew I had such a great answer: spending 5 weeks in France!  I’ve been talking about these plans for months, but now that I’m finally preparing for my trip it is all starting to become real. The guidebooks are piling up on my desk, I’m exchanging my Dollars for Euros, and the fasting has begun before the unavoidable overload of crèpes, croissants, and fois gras.  I leave this Saturday, June 18th, for a week in Paris with my mom before the program starts, and I plan on using this short week to take in everything the City of Lights has to offer!  Then I’m off to the South of France to study in Montpellier until late July.

Before I head out though, I would love to introduce myself and let you know why I am so interested in this French program.  I am a rising junior at William and Mary with a major in Global Studies (with a European Concentration) and a Management minor in the Business School.  At W&M, I work at the admissions office, I am in a social sorority, I am a tour guide, and next year I will be a part of the residence life staff as an HA.  I started my education, from kindergarten through 8th grade, at a French immersion school in Chicago.  That meant that all of my classes were in French until I reached high school.  So I learned about right angles, but to me they were “angles droits”, and I learned about King Louis XIV at Versailles not Honest Abe in the White House.  I have surrounded myself with the French culture and language for most of my life without ever getting to spend a substantial amount of time there… until now!

I can’t wait to continue updating you on all my French adventures, but until then… Gros Bisoux!

Sam Fansler