The GoGlobal Blog

3 weeks in…

3 weeks in…

In exactly 4 days it will be approximately one month since I left the U.S. In some ways it seems like the shortest 3 weeks of my life, but in other ways I feel like I left half a year ago. Pau has been treating all of us well. We took our placement tests and began our language classes last week. It’s non-stop French for almost 6 hours every single day, 5 days a week. On top of that the Palois usually do not speak English so you’re immersed in French even more.

USAC runs its language program differently than the U.S. does. The whole semester will be a continuation of everything we’re learning. We do not know when we are crossing into the next level of French, we simply keep building and building our language knowledge every single day. Although we have our chosen elective with American students (and one Australian) from USAC, our language classes included people from all over the world. For example, I have students in my classes from India, China, Russia, Africa, and the U.K. That is one of the distinct difference from the French classes I have taken in the United States. Not all of these students know English well, so the only language we have in common is French. So even in between classes we (attempt to) communicate in French. It’s surprising the many hand motions and sounds a person is able to come up with to explain something. Sometimes the Russian student and I resort to speaking Polish and Russian, since they are both Slavic languages.

USAC also provides us with three excursions during our semester in Pau. This past weekend we traveled to the Basque Country. We visited Bayonne, St. Sebastian and St. Jean-de-Luz. While staying here in France, I have come to learn so much about Pays Basque. The culture is completely separate from French and Spanish even though it lies in both France and Spain. The language has no origin, but is said to be oldest language in Europe. It is not related to French or Spanish at all. (For example, San Sebastian is called Dostonia in Basque). Students in both Spain and France can take Basque as a foreign language, same as they would take English or Russian. The Basque people have their own culture: folk dances, traditions, ways they celebrate Catholicism, things they’re known for, etc.

The trip was absolutely amazing. San Sebastian took my breath away and made me realize how lucky I was to be experiencing such a great trip. The next excursion we have is in October to the Pyrenees, and then we have one in November to Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges (Prehistoric Caves).

Time for class! Au revoir!

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