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France Through Film: Bonjour in the Morning, Bonsoir at Night Around the World, Ava Lindsay '17, Toulouse, France

I have been in France for 10 days and can finally say that I have found my footing in Toulouse. The bus route is memorized, the metro schedule is constantly on hand and my legs have finally stopped hurting from hours of walking and exploring.

I met my host mom, Indiana, the first Saturday of the trip and soon found out that making small talk for 15 minutes in a car with a native speaker is an entirely different experience than being in a French class. I met the house rabbit, Nougat, who greeted me when I first arrived and has since provided me with laughs and company at breakfast.

I must admit that getting used to the habits and customs of a new family took longer than I had expected, but the past week of activities and French classes have kept me busy and have reminded me why I chose to take this course in the first place. I came here to become fluent in French, and I already feel like I am much more comfortable speaking in another language than when I arrived. I guess having five host siblings under the age of 17 who constantly engage in discussion might have something to do with it.

My most awkward moment so far was learning that bonjour is only acceptable in the morning, while bonsoir is used at night. I learned this the hard way when a bus driver couldn’t help but laugh after I confidently stepped on the bus and said hello with a “Bonjour!” For the record, this is the equivalent of saying good morning at 7 p.m. But, hey, I guess that is how you learn.

Every morning we take a French course where many of us are brushing up our grammar skills. Since this course is also focused on French film, we participate in activities involving things such as our favorite films and actors.

In addition, we watch films related to the themes we have studied each week in our afternoon class and connect them to our own experiences with our host families in class discussions. An extra perk this week was speaking with the director of a film we were viewing for class. We heard about his life story and inspiration for the film, as well as his plans for the future. All in French, of course.

We also studied French history in class on Tuesday in preparation for our day trip to Carcassonne on Friday. This trip was my favorite part of the week because we got to explore a medieval fortress, as well as see the plaque where Simon de Montfort was buried. This was especially cool because I had studied him in my French class this past term.

I am looking forward to my next three weeks in the laid-back Toulouse environment. I am missing Lexington and my friends, but the excitement of being here has made things easier. Hopefully, there won’t be too many more bonjour moments!

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