…and as a new friend of mine pointed out, this marks our one-week friend-versary. Classes and electives officially began Monday, and learning French, photography and drawing with our teachers has been both fun and challenging so far.
On Tuesday, Sara and Camille gave us a list of things to find or photograph around St-Laurent. For example, we had to ask someone (in French) when the City Hall is open and how to make a dish called “socca”. After approaching a native Laurentine, we discovered that socca is a traditional specialty of Nice and the Cote d’Azur made with chickpea flour.
Later that day, we took the train to Nice to go parasailing. However, grey skies and impending rainfall stopped that plan in its tracks and we went tubing instead, which was just as fun and possibly more terrifying. After almost missing the train and running for our lives to catch it, we headed to a picnic on the beach with our host families. Over dinner, we conversed in French and discovered that public bathrooms in St-Laurent close at 8:00 pm.
Our host families are all absolutely wonderful, but the language barrier and the learning curve can be both frustrating and hilarious. For example, it’s pretty easy to mishear “chevre” as “cheval” and come out thinking that the French serve horse cheese at dinner. Or alternatively, to spend 15 minutes trying to communicate the difference between two similar-sounding words. Learning a language is certainly a journey that takes a long time and has no shortness of obstacles.
On Wednesday, after finishing classes, some of the group took the train to Nice for our drawing and photography electives. There, we walked up to an old Italian castle and learned about drawing buildings and landscapes and adjusting the aperture on our cameras. The view was gorgeous from the hill we walked up, but it’s certainly a hot summer in France.
The rest of the group, those taking the French Conversation elective, stayed back to play Pétanque, a popular French game similar to Bocce Ball. To play, two teams attempt to throw their boules as close to the small wooden target ball as possible. The winners of each round accumulate points, and the team with the most points at the end wins. After our electives, we did yoga with the St-Laurent program director, Kim. Yoga definitely helped, since we’re all a little sore and tired from walking everywhere.
That evening, we ate dinner with our host families and met up again at the beach to walk around the port and swim. The sunsets over the ocean are absolutely gorgeous, especially when you watch from the water’s edge.
Thursday in class, we played the card game Egyptian Rat Slap in French, and learned the words for “win”, “cheat”, “lucky”, etc. After class, we ate on the lawn of the city hall and discussed our new all-bread French diet. In the afternoon, we played sand volleyball and soccer with some French teenagers we met.
It’s been an adventurous week, and it’s going by way too fast! This weekend we go to Italy and Antibes, where we’ll go to museums, walk around Sanremo, and buy lots of gelato and possibly some expensive shoes.
Student Ambassador – Addie Maher