By Alexander Meyer
Thanks to generous funding from my Fordham Arrupe Fellowship, I became conversationally fluent in French! Over the summer, I used my funding to live in Toulouse, France for 9 weeks to take intensive French courses at the Alliance Francaise. I took half-day classes five days a week.
Caption: Me pictured in front of the Alliance Francaise of Toulouse.
Caption: a smaller side street around Toulouse. Though there was a great metro system, the city is set up so well for biking that I biked everywhere.
I chose to live with a host family to be completely immersed in French. My host family saw me advance from only knowing a couple French words to being conversationally fluent. What I appreciated most about living with a host family were the 2-hour nightly family dinners that we would have, during which time I got great French practice. We built such a strong relationship over such a brief period; there was deep sadness and tears on both sides when we parted ways.
Caption: Me with my host family after our nightly family dinner.
The best part about the language immersion in France was practicing my French outside of class! I made countless deep friendships. Whether it was experiencing various cultural activities or just having a typical day wondering Toulouse’s streets to find gems such a new cheese shop or wine cellar, I had limitless opportunities to improve my French while having fun.
Caption: a boat ride on the Garron river that runs right through the center of Toulouse.
Caption: a public celebration commemorating France’s revolution.
Caption: one of countless river side picnics – a staple activity for summer life in Toulouse.
Caption: a ride on Toulouse’s riverside Ferris wheel.
I chose to pursue intensive French studies because I desire to work in development, specifically with Catholic Relief Services. While I already speak Spanish fluently, I knew obtaining proficiency in French would open even more doors for me.
I’m happy to report that my nine weeks of intensive French studies worked! I progressed from knowing only a couple words to being conversationally fluent with basic topics. I will continue to study French once back at Fordham to obtain the B1 level of French that Catholic Relief Services desires their employees possess to be able to work in francophone African countries.
All told, the experience was not only extremely helpful, but sincerely a great time as well. I am deeply grateful to the IPED team for affording students such opportunities, and I can’t recommend future students pursue intensive French summer studies through the IPED program enough!