Grace Locklear is a senior who spent the past Fall 2017 semester in Grenoble, France.
Q: Where did you study abroad, and what made you choose this place?
I studied abroad in Grenoble, France, and I chose it because my major includes a lot of French, so clearly I wanted to go to a French-speaking place. Grenoble is in the mountains, which I love a lot. The lovely French Alps.
Q: What did you study while you were there?
French, and that was literally it. I just did an intensive French program, so four hours of class five days a week of literally just French grammar, and a little bit of culture, but mostly just grammar.
Q: What was your favorite part about your study abroad experience?
It was really fantastic to experience such a different culture and that’s probably it. It was just very different, it was very rewarding to be immersed in something that was very different that anything I had been around before, so it was a good growing experience.
Q: Was there anything that ended up not being like what you expected?
Yes. I was staying with a host family, one thing that was unexpected was how easily I could connect with them considering they were like, sixty years old and like, French, and very different from the current circle of people that I hang out with, which is college-age females, for the most part. So it was really, really cool to get to know them and see how easily we could–they were great, you know, we were best buds. I still love them. So, I expected that it would be harder to connect with them than it was.
Q: What was the best new food you tried?
Oh my God, there were so many, it was France. I tried some cheese that was new to me. There was this pesto gouda that just knocked my socks off, it was so good. It was ridiculous.
Q: What’s your favorite memory of your experience?
I love hiking, and that’s like half the reason why I decided to go to the mountains, and it was just fantastic. They were huge and beautiful, and it was only a fifteen minute bus ride and then you were literally in the middle of the French Alps, and so I think my favorite time was the first time I got to go hiking there. It was halfway through October, so it was gorgeous–the weather was beautiful, the leaves were changing and there were tons of trees, so it was just insane. I like hiking alone, so it was just a freeing feeling.
Oh, I have a second one. I travelled alone for a week and that was also a freeing experience, and I went to this tiny little town in the Black Forest in Germany. There couldn’t have been more than two thousand people there, so clearly I knew absolutely no one there, and that was really pretty exciting, to be somewhere where I didn’t understand anything, and I wasn’t going to see anyone I knew, you know, it’s a little town in Germany I’d never been to before. So it was very new and exciting and just a freeing feeling to know that everything was fresh, I guess. So that was pretty fantastic. I just sat in a park for two hours. And a cat came up to me! Oh my God, it was magical.
Q: Do you have anything to say to students who are considering studying in France?
Yeah, French people are kind of mean sometimes, but I think they’re just more blunt than Americans. There’s not really a filter there. Most of the time if they see that you’re trying, they’re nice. Just be prepared for the staring, number one. They stare so much.
Q: Anything you’d like to add?
If you can, you should study abroad somewhere with a different language, because it’s really hard in some ways, but it’s also incredibly rewarding to be faced with that level of difficulty and see, as you’re studying abroad, how much you’re growing, because you will grow so much. At first you’ll want to die, the first week you won’t understand anything, and it sucks, but it’s super rewarding. So don’t go to Ireland. Go to, like, Tanzania. Or France.