Steven Rowe ’12 – I have been studying abroad in Montpellier, France for a little over two months now and my experience has been incredible. True, the 16 hours of French every week at the Institute for Foreigners can become a little tedious, but all of the exceptional experiences I’ve had have unquestionably changed my life for the better. This change could also be due to the Mediterranean weather. Either way, this has been a fascinating experience and I still have two months left in this city.
Montpellier is basically a college town, but that means plenty of culture, good food, good wine, and good company. Due to the fact that I am enrolled at the Institute for Foreigners, I do not have much of an opportunity to interact with very many French people besides my teachers and the occasional waitress; however, I have been able to meet people from across the world in my multi-cultured classes.
Montpellier also has a way of surprising you. When the weather is warm I like to go downtown, sit at a café, and watch the people go by as I half listen to whatever words I can grab from the conversation of the people sitting next to me. Another place I like to go is to the botanical gardens. The garden is situated nearby the copy of the Arc de Triomphe, which is a short walk from the city center. Although it is surrounded by shops and cafés, and the occasional motorcycle disturbs the silence, it is easy to forget that you are in the eighth largest city in France.
Thanks to the extensive rail system I have been able to do a lot of traveling on weekends and over the first one week break. When Barcelona is only a three hour train ride away, it is hard to say no. I have also been able to go to Amsterdam for the weekend and plan to go back again during our second break, because it was so phenomenal. My first break consisted of going to Barcelona to meet up with friends with whom I was going to Morocco with for the weekend. After my weekend in Africa, my path took me from cold weather to arctic conditions. Moving from Paris to Stockholm to Oslo added a whole new perspective on my study abroad experience.
France has been good to me thus far, and yes, the moules frites, are extraordinary, but I know that when I get back home I am going to have a proper cheeseburger with the works.