Updates from Dijon

Bonjour à tous. As my first semester in France begins to wind down, I have been spending more and more time in Dijon, appreciating the city and des gens (the people) that I have come to know in the past couple of months. After all of my crazy trips, and oftentimes misfortunate traveling scenarios, I am always relieved to come back to the one city in Europe where I know that I belong. Since my last blogpost about Dijon in September, I have met so many new people and discovered much more of what Dijon has to offer and I cant wait to share about it all with you!

For starters, I am pretty engrossed in my classes à la Fac (at the university) now. Now don’t get me wrong, I have had my fair share of blunders à la Fac: sitting for 10 minutes in a German class that wasn’t mine, waiting outside of classrooms for courses that either hadn’t started yet or were canceled without notification, or simply not having an answer when asked about my opinion on America’s latest des impôts agricoles (farm taxes) in my Econ class. Yet overall, classes have been going surprisingly well, considering the fact that not a single word of English is spoken in any of them.

Since my last post about Dijon, I have also started mon boulot (my job) as an English Foreign Language Assistant at a local collège (middle school). Between Thursday and Friday, I have four conversation classes with 15 students each ranging from ten to thirteen years old. For a majority of mes élèves (my students), I am the first American that they have ever met. So, naturally I was bombarded with questions about common American stereotypes  on my first day. Its funny how foreign the American way of life is to the French people. My students were repulsed by the ideas of eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and taking a bright yellow bus to school every day. I am excited to keep sharing my culture with mes élèves so that when they visit America they will be able to make connections as I did when I came to France, thanks to my French FLAs at Holy Cross.

Although I have deeply enjoyed my time in Dijon so far, the most difficult part is la solitude (the loneliness) that I have encountered when faced with the fact that I am the only Holy Cross student in my city. Not having HC friends to eat lunch or explore the city with is tough, and it’s difficult to find the motivation to be social when none of the faces around you are remotely familiar, but luckily my solitude has forced me to go out and meet new people in Dijon. While there are a few other American students who are also in Dijon, its very rare to come across one, due to the fact that they all take similar classes outside of the university and don’t interact with anyone but each other. Heureusement  (fortunately), I have met few British and Irish students through various ERASMUS events (ERASMUS is Europe’s version of study abroad) that I really enjoy being around. And while we all speak the same language, it is clearly evident that their cultures are similar to each others’ and quite different from my own. One minute I’ll be fully engaged in a conversation with a group of them, but as soon as slang is used like “ey-up” or “quid,” and references from shows like “Coronation Street” and “the Inbetweeners” are made, it’s like I’m listening to another foreign language.  If I have learned anything while abroad, it’s that smiling and nodding with a simple “ouais” or “yeah” thrown in there can get you through most conversations in most circumstances, but not all. 

À bientôt!

-Sean

Maxime du jour: c’est du chinois pour moi ” its all Chinese for me”- the French version of “it’s all Greek to me”

 

 

Living a lifelong dream en Italie

If you know me, then you know that I have dreamed of traveling to Italy my entire life. Hearing my grandparents’ stories of their times abroad in Italy is what sparked my interest in des cultures étrangères (foreign cultures) in the first place. With this in mind, when I realized that I would have a week long break from classes for Toussaints (All Saints Day), booking an extended trip to la mère patrie (the mother country) with a few friends was a no brainer. Once booked, it finally dawned on me that I would finally be completing one of the top goals of my study abroad experience, and of my life in general, which caused major excitement to commence.

The first stop on our tour was Venice, a city that was unlike anything I had ever seen before. There is no other place in the world that I can compare it to. Its one thing to see pictures of des ponts (the bridges) and the gondolas, but to actually walk along the pavements of the city with water next to me instead of paved roads was truly a captivating experience. Although we went during tourist low season, the small city pathways were still crowded with people. I couldn’t imagine visiting during the peak summer months when its even more jam packed. Néanmoins (nonetheless), Venice’s  unique way of living and scenic views truly lived up to my expectations, which causes me to firmly attest the fact that Venice is a city that every person must see in their lifetime.

Next on the list was Florence. Florence was the quintessential Italian experience that I had always dreamed of. The pasta was to die for, the people talked with les mains (their hands), and there were old men playing accordions on the streets. The first thing on our to do list while in the Tuscan region was to travel to Pisa for obvious reasons. After somewhat of an underwhelming trip, the leaning tower of Pisa is much smaller and not as tilted as you would expect, we went back to the birthplace of the Renaissance to be cultured by des musées d’art (some art museums). Walking into Academia and seeing the statue of David was actually breathtaking. I have never had a real reaction from seeing art before, but the statue of David actually took my breath away. In this singular masterpiece of a sculpture, I came to understand the rebirth of culture that came about during the Renaissance and gained a much deeper respect for artists of the day, especially after our great tourguide (Stasie) told us that David was meant to represent Florence battling the Goliath, who represented Rome. After soaking up as much culture as humanly possible, my friends and I met up with some of the Holy Cross kids who are currently studying in Florence. I was beyond jealous of them for being able to live in such an amazing city, but it was clear that their lives in such a famous city had some cons as well. English could be heard almost as much as Italian in the city due to the immense American study abroad population. After a few amazing nights in Florence, my friends and I had to trek across the city to the bus station in the pouring rain in order to catch our bus at 5am, which turned out to be an hour late.

After finally reaching Rome, we headed straight to the Vatican where we were able to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis celebrating All Saints Day Mass. The Vatican was yet another place that I’ve always wanted to visit, and the grandiose church that is St. Peters Basilica definitely did not disappoint. Then, after une longe sieste ( a long nap), the group and I did some sight seeing of the rest of the city. Seeing the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, and the Pantheon all lit up at night was magical to say the least. Being able to put a face to the name of what was the capital city of one of the most dominant empires in history was incredible to say the least. Its crazy to think how rich in culture and history just one country is. By the last few days of the trip I was épuisé (exhausted), and I sadly found myself not appreciating as much of Rome as I should have. Luckily, I have another semester to go back and revisit!

Au total (All in all), I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Italy. It was amazing to experience all the sights and sounds that I have dreamed about for so long. In the past, when asked for my life long ambitions, my answer would always be “to travel to Italy,” and I am so grateful that studying abroad has given me the opportunity to achieve this goal. The only problem is, now I need to find new  goal in life to set. So, I’ll let you know as soon as I think of one.

À plus tard!

-Sean

Leçon du jour: faites ce que les romains font “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”- a saying that I find myself repeating a lot while trying to assimilate to life in Europe

Photos from Week 12

The Duomo in Florence

Inside the Duomo

The ultimate leg kick @Isabel

The only piece of art that has ever taken my breath away

Met up with a few fellow New York Italians while in Florence

Showing off my new shoes

The travel squad

Feeling #blessed

Can you tell that we love history?

Italy is truly what dreams are made of

Photos from Week 11

I finally realized why they call it la Côte-d’Or (gold coast)

I had to replace my cover picture

My host mom Jocelyne and I at a restaurant!

Unplanned HC meet up in some obscure city in France

Stasie, Me, Ava, and Abby  in Venice

Piazza San Marco

FINALLY living my dream of coming to Italy 😀

My grandparents used to have a painting that looked EXACTLY like this hanging up in their house when I was little

A pretty cool view in Venice