With three and a half weeks left of the program, I am starting to feel the end looming ahead, and this is a bittersweet feeling for me. Honestly, this entire program has been a bittersweet experience. Paris is an exciting city full of warm, rushing life and cold, hard buildings. But between those things there is food. Restaurants, kiosks, street nut-roasters, stands; every type of food you can think of from Chinese, to Mediterranean, to Arab, to Italian, to American, to Spanish, and of course crêpes! Crepes are on every single corner, and in between blocks. I wonder how they keep in business when they have an identical competitor on both sides. However, crepes are expected in France. What I wasn’t expecting was kebab places. You can get a shaved mean sandwich with a selection of sauce pretty much whichever direction you look. This is what I love about Paris. The accessibility. The cheap, good, accessible food all around me. Many people say Paris, as are most major cities, is very expensive, and it is, but it completely depends on where you look and how you live.
This past weekend we stepped away from Paris, which was a nice and welcomed breather from the sometimes suffocating and lonely city life. Our trip was to the Loire River Valley, where we visited four castles over three days. We had been to this region before when we stayed in Nantes for three weeks, which was also on the Loire River. This time we drove up the river valley, through the French countryside. The fall colors made everything all that more beautiful. The immensity of the castles and their extravagant grounds was awe-inspiring, you could feel the history, almost see the kings walking around with their staff, sleeping in the four-poster beds and getting their portraits painted. It was an extremely cold weekend, but we got through it by seeking out the warmest places in the castles: next to the fireplaces. There were only a select few fireplaces that actually had a fire lit and we were sure to have that room’s lecture around that spot. It was actually a good lesson in itself, because in the days of the French monarchy there was no indoor heating, only fires.
That is the amazing thing about our program. Earlham’s France program is unique in that it encompasses all sides of France, gives us a taste of the country and of the largest of cities. We stay with families from all different pasts and futures. En fin (In the end), we are very lucky to have such a diverse French experience, and I am happy to clearly see everyone’s progress with the language. I would say in three weeks I will be ready to go home, but after breathing the fresh air of the Loire River, I’m glad we get one last chance to live up the city life before going home for the holidays.
— Ana Rabut