Bonjour! My name is Satya Adabala, and I’m a rising sophomore at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, studying International Politics and French. This summer, I will be spending two weeks in the city of Tours, France taking a French cultural integration class. My next four weeks will be spent in Paris studying French politics and the European Union. I can’t wait to take you along on my journey!
In the days leading up to my departure for France, I was so nervous that I couldn’t bring myself to feel excited. The stress of the last few days at my job, shopping for necessities, and packing for six weeks in a small suitcase- not to mention budgeting for expenses and working out last minute details when my connecting flight was delayed- contributed, without a doubt, to my anxious mindset. Yet when I finally found myself getting out of a cab amidst gorgeous white buildings, the rapid French chatter of passersby, and the smell of fresh baguettes wafting out of boulangeries on every corner, I found my enthusiasm all at once.
When I first arrived in Tours, I thought the city was very small. Yet one walk around the town with my fellow schoolmates revealed just how much there is to experience. Trying various colorful pastries at lunchtime, discovering beautiful 19th century chapels hidden away in back roads, and of course, meeting people happy to converse with me to help me practice my speaking, have been the highlights of my time in Tours thus far.
The biggest difference between Tours and my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia is the pace of life. The first few days of exploring were simply wonderful, but I experienced culture shock when I realized that my classes ended at 1 pm, giving me free time that I usually don’t have as a busy college student. I didn’t know what to do with myself at first, and I felt almost guilty for not being completely preoccupied at every moment. However, I quickly realized that the French pace of life in a small town is naturally slower, and that I could still keep myself busy by exploring the culture and putting my language skills to the test. I have for the first time been able to take up to two hours for lunch, practicing my French as I interact with my lovely host family, or plan a spontaneous trip to a nearby château (the Loire valley is known for its extraordinary castles!) I feel that my language skills have vastly improved over the course of just a week.
I have one more week left in the charming city of Tours before I leave for Paris and all of its grandeur. I am sure that I will have another learning curve to face in one week’s time, but for now, I am making the most of my last days here. My goal is to see as many more castles as I can before I leave.
Until then, au revoir! 🙂