Tired of soaking in the tepid ambiance that is the O.C., and before I could become completely paralyzed by the Irvine sun, I took off for a year to Toulouse, France. Sure, I was scared and yes, I knew I would miss my family and friends, but I also knew that if I didn’t seize this chance to live in another country, I might never again have the opportunity. I was excited about the new experience, but at the time I had no idea how beneficial it would ultimately be in all aspects of my life.
First of all, taking a course about a foreign country is nothing compared to actually going there. In France I read about famous historical figures in class, and afterwards walked along streets named after them. I stopped in 14th-century gothic churches on my way home in place of seeing pictures of them in a text book. Instead of listening to an American teaching French behind a podium a few times a week, I practiced my French every day with the woman at my local boulangerie, discussing the different kinds of bread she baked and the town she came from. Of course it was intimidating to plunge right in, but by trying and making mistakes I became confident enough with my French to participate in class and make friends. I even gave English lessons to a French professor!
Along with these new assets, I was lucky enough to indulge in French food. I discovered little family-owned restaurants sprinkled along the winding cobblestone streets and experienced the most delicious meals I have ever tasted in my life