Monday, August 16, 2010

Le Commencement de Tout

"The beginning of everything."

As suggested by my family, I will be keeping a blog to document my experiences in France this semester. Please feel free to submit your own questions! Anything related to Toulouse, French culture, or my life is completely acceptable.

To start things off, I thought I'd provide some information about where I'll be staying...


Toulouse is the fourth largest city in France, after Paris, Lyon, and Marseille. It features many buildings made of brick, giving it the name "la ville rose" (the pink city), as well as museums and theaters. Toulouse is a central location for aviation, computer, and space research, as well as the birthplace of the Airbus company. It is also a popular college city, with roughly 100,000 residential students. I plan to attend the Institut Catholique de Toulouse this fall.


I will be living with a host family for the duration of the semester. They seem like the perfect match - a spacious home near the center of the city, two dogs, and wireless internet! In addition, they have three children around my age, though they will all be living in other countries/continents for most of my visit. I have been corresponding with them via email, and seem to be a very welcoming family! Here is a picture that they sent me:

Dickinson en France

For my first month in school, I'll be taking an intensive French language class through Dickinson as my program-mates and I adjust to our surroundings. From there, we will choose classes at one of six local universities, to begin by late September. Our program also has several trips planned, of which I fully intend to take advantage. Here's the program site, the home of our program director and our Dickinson en France classes.


One thing I'm already beginning to recognize throughout this process is that I'm becoming a "planner." This has been necessary, because of my last-minute need for a new passport and visa. But I've been researching the area and local attractions, because I would like to arrive in the city with a working knowledge of local public transportation, as well as how to navigate around the city.

Packing has me totally confused. For my freshman year of college, I was allowed to bring whatever could fill a minivan, with the lingering possibility of having additional items shipped. Neither of these things will be possible in France. Plus, how can I pack for five months... to only fill one or two suitcases? Most sources say that the French dress well... how will they react to my pajamas and sweatpants? Should I bring rain boots, a winter coat, or even a backpack? I've been making countless lists: things to bring, things that need to be purchased, errands to run. Hopefully it will all begin to come together soon...

"L'aventure : un événement qui sort de l'ordinaire, sans être forcément extraordinaire."
- Jean-Paul Sartre
Adventure: an event that is unusual, but not necessarily extraordinary.

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