Picnics and Recollections

I can’t remember the last time I had a picnic with friends at a park. Perhaps it was when I was in elementary school, due to an occasional field trip. Being born and raised in the city of Los Angeles, it was more common for my friends and I to grab a bite at a food court or at a shopping center somewhere. We would often go to the closest Westfield mall or the movie theaters in City walk.  

Bordeaux unveiled how common picnics are in the French culture amongst friends and family. On only my second week here I had the occasion to embrace the French culture and enjoy a picnic with friends at a public Jardin on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. It was an unexpected last-minute decision once we noticed the weather was stupendous, we couldn’t let the day go to waste. We went to a local grocery store and bought some fresh baguettes, different types of cheeses and meats, a salad, fruits, chips and sweets. I had the opportunity to try different types of cheeses that day, I learned my all-time favorite is Brie. We sat down and noticed all the other friends and families enjoying of their picnics, the sun and the nature. For a moment the three of us sat on the grass observing our surroundings in silence. Absorbing nature’s beauty, it was truly a blissful moment. We talked about how fortunate we each were for deciding to study abroad in such a beautiful city. The city of Bordeaux reminded me to be observant and enjoy nature’s beauty. It was easy to completely disconnect from my phone during my strolls through the city. Looking back now I didn’t think that would be the first and last picnic I would have during my study abroad program. 


Things change quite rapidly and although we can’t always be in control of everything in our lives, I’ve learned to truly cherish every moment because we really don’t know when it could be the last. As cliché as that sounds but I’m glad I savored all of those wonderful different types of cheese. It’s the small things I know I’ll miss… such as having a picnic in a Jardin, walking through familiar streets, going to their local gym, riding the tram to and from the university Monday through Thursday and interreacting with French people. As I sit here quarantined in my home in California I reminisce on all the beautiful moments I had in Bordeaux. I met so many other UCEAP students studying abroad and made many new friends. Bonded with my homestay parents.  I learned so much about Bordeaux, the French culture and how much I enjoyed living in another country. I gained skills and made connections in the short time I had, only because the program is over it doesn’t mean my learning French is at an end too. Instead this experience motivated me to take French courses at my home university once things get better.

I still have hopes I will return someday and when I do I plan to speak only French during my time there. I’m grateful for all the moments I had in Bordeaux and it will always have a special place in my heart. 

Constructing my educational journey

I can confidently say adapting to my new life in Bordeaux has been fairly easy. I’m appreciative of this journey that will form my overall higher education objectives.

The first week of school already seems like it was such a long time ago, meeting other University of California students in the program and making friends. Although the overjoying and overwhelming feeling of living in an unfamiliar place is still present, I’ve become accustomed to my daily routine here. I used to ponder what my second quarter at my home institution would’ve been like if I didn’t study abroad? I no longer need to wonder, this is by far the best decision I’ve made. I cherish the connections and friendships I’ve made so far with other Californians, my homestay parents and other French students. I’ve established a wider network because of this program. Living in Bordeaux has been very beneficial, simply having the opportunity to be observant and embrace some social and cultural differences is such a rewarding experience. 

There were some adjustments I had to make in my routines, such as laundry. I was accustomed to throwing my clothes in the dryer as soon as they came out of the washer. Now instead of utilizing a dryer I’ve learned to hang up my clothes to dry. Although it’s a longer process it is still efficient and it’s better on the environment. Another new habit I’ve incorporated into my daily routine is relying on Public transportation. I’m dependent on public transportation to go anywhere around the city and I love it! It’s a great way to discover, explore and really immerse into a whole new city. It also gives me the opportunity to practice my French listening skills outside of class. Even though I’m not where I want to be language wise, I have notice improvement since my arrival. 

I’ve become comfortable with ordering food, buying groceries and looking for certain products in the stores. I’m learning to be patient with myself because it takes time. My current French language professor illustrated a metaphor for the class to comprehend the process of learning a new language.

He said learning a new language is similar to constructing a house or a building. If you visit the construction site daily you can notice all the minimal work being done. It may seem almost unnoticeable but it’s part of the longer process. However, if you don’t see the daily work being done and you just visit the commencing and ending result you’re taken by surprise to see all the progress that was made. So, his advice was for us to continue doing all the daily work and practice that may seem like the bare minimal now because it will be reflected in our overall progress later on. Already I’ve learned so much in this new learning environment, getting out of my comfort zone will be skillful for the remainder of my educational journey and just life in general.

First thoughts and feelings of studying abroad

Bonjour! Welcome to my blog I’m eager to share my most memorable experiences with you! I am studying abroad in Bordeaux, France! I am not only thrilled but grateful to have this wonderful opportunity of calling this new place home!

Bordeaux is a beautiful city and I’m fortunate enough to be living in the city centre of it all! I’m living with my home stay parents; Maria Victoria and Fabrice they are both wonderful, warm and welcoming. Maria Victoria is originally from Malta and Fabrice is from Guadeloupe so I have a diverse, cultural place to call home. I’m so delighted they are willing to share their beautiful home with me for a semester. I have a lot to learn from them. They each know more than 3 languages and both successfully integrated into a whole new country.

As a Mexican-American, languages have always had a crucial role in my life. From an early age I was taught to translate from English to Spanish when needed to. I prioritized reading and writing in both languages because they were both as equally important in my life. During my community college I decided to take a semester in French because I wanted to learn a whole new language. That class is what led me to this very moment. Now I’m surrounded by french speakers, and truth be told, it was a little overwhelming at first. Only because I had forgotten all of my french speaking skills and didn’t understand what they said when they’d speak so quickly. Perhaps the feeling of leaving my family behind in Los Angeles was interferring with my ability to focus on relearning the language…

I realize now that my overwhelming feelings were normal, for both my family and I. Being the first in my family to go to college and now to study abroad has truly brought me immense happiness. I’m so glad I made the decision of studying abroad! I have so much to learn about the language, the culture and all of my courses I’m taking at the University of Bordeaux! I can’t wait to explore it all! I’m ready to take on the challenge and seek every opportunity possible to enhance my french language skills.

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