En France

Yahoo! I am finally in France for my year of studying abroad with EAP. I’ve been here for almost a week now and already a lot has happened. I spent my first few days in the city’s international student center with around 60 other UC students. It’s been a ton of fun (despite being kind of smelly) to hang out with a bunch of Americans for a few days. There are around 50 UC students in the immersion program and a dozen more from the language and culture program. There are just five kids from UCLA (compared to something like 20 from Santa Barbara), so I’ve managed to meet all of the UCLAers and chat about mutual friends and the French classes we’ve taken.

Our orientation was relatively short, mostly just about how classes are chosen, how to get a new French cell phone, how to take public transportation, etc etc. The best part was a free dinner we ate at a fancy restaurant (Lyon is the gastronomic capital of France, so there’s lots of good food). I was lucky enough to sit across from the program director at dinner, so I got to get some good French practice in and learn a little bit more about what to expect in the coming year.

Besides gettin’ oriented, we have been able to explore the city a little bit. One of the nights, a student director who had participated in the EAP Lyon program previously took us out for an evening on the town – very fun! It involved a lot of dancing and a lot of in-the-dark sight-seeing (the city in lights = boo yeah).

I’ve also been able to eat at some other restaurants and walk along the rivers (Lyon has two!). Everything so far has been very very beautiful – there’s even a park here with botanical gardens (kind of like the one back at UCLA), so I feel like I have a little piece of campus in France.

After our orientation finished, all of the students participating in homestays moved in with their families. I’m living with a woman and her 20-year-old daughter, both of whom are perhaps the most welcoming people I’ve ever met. Even though they both speak English, they speak only French to help me practice, and every meal with them has been very delicious and full of smiles. They helped me get a metro pass, figuring out how to unblock my phone to get a new SIM card, and they even took me to a nice park to look at farm animals. It’s all been hyper trop cool.

Tomorrow I start my intensive language program to get reacquainted with French. I’m super excited (except for that we have to take a placement test first (ugh, tests!)), and it will be good to see some Americans again after speaking French all weekend.

That’s all for now! I’m sure this next week will hold many adventures. Au revoir.

Charley Guptill