23 June 2022
Today, we are chatting with Fiona, an AFM student in Intermediate 4 French class, who has spent the holidays in France. She explains how
her French studies helped her during this trip.
I spent five fantastic weeks in France in April and May. I was based in Bordeaux so I predominately saw the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region
including the Atlantic coast, Arcachon, Dune du Pilat and Lège-Cap-Ferret, but I also spent some time in Nice, Marseille and
I loved the simple daily rituals of living and studying in Bordeaux. I enjoyed the shared breakfast, cycling to French
class, meeting the international student group, the afternoon cultural activities and the shared evening meal. Cycling some of the forest
beach paths in Lège-Cap-Ferret was also heavenly. Interestingly, it was the social connection to eating that I loved the most. The food
was consistently terrific (and the cheese needs a whole separate blog) but it was the commitment of each meal being a time for pause and
dialogue that I cherished. More broadly, I loved the varied French landscape, architecture, music and art.
Through most of my travelling, I had the privilege of sharing a home, meals, and normal life with several generous French residents. The people I stayed with shared a focus on sustainable eating and produce, with attention (and some outrage) about the need to minimise ‘gaspillage' (waste). I was interested in the consistent focus on eating seasonal produce, in contrast to accessing a broader range of produce all year round. I was also in Bordeaux at the time of the Presidential election, Macron vs Le Pen, and was fascinated by the conversations held in the lead up to voting.
Studying French in Melbourne definitely increased my motivation to learn and experience French culture. I joined Alliance Française during Melbourne’s lockdown, and have had fun working through the intermediate levels with a supportive and entertaining student group. I was made aware through my studies of the variety of accommodation, transport and cultural opportunities, and was able to plan my trip in advance by emailing my requests in French. The Alliance Française curriculum is standardised, so I was able to connect with an intermediate language course in Bordeaux, and work through the same Cosmopolite textbook with an international student group.
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