It is my final night in Tours and it has been an emotional ride to say the least. I started the day by going to my last French classes at the Institut de Touraine. All of my work has been turned in and we recieved our final grades for the courses we took. I was really happy with all of the feedback that my Professors provided about my progress in French. They noticed changes in my pronunciation, writing and oral production over the past month that I did not. It was a really positive end to my formal classes at the Institute.
For our final lunch in Tours, I went to lunch with the other graduate assistants and our Professor, Dr. Picone. We were able to decompress after 5 weeks in France, and discuss our favorite moments over the course of the program and what we planned to do upon our return to the USA. We also took that moment to thank Dr. Picone for all of the work and planning he put into making our group’s transition into French culture easier, for all of the the excursions and cultural activities he scheduled and for making sure everything flowed smoothly.
After lunch I had my final activity at the Institute, a culture and civilization atelier that ended with us discussing changes in popular culture from the 60’s until now and how that has manifested in the cultures of the different countries we come from, and the students at the institute really come from all over. I met people from 14 different countries!
Leaving the Institute was hard for me because it really hit me that my time in Tours and in France was really coming to an end. The two major things I wanted to do this day were to pack my suitcase and say goodbye to all of the amazing people who I have met and who made my study abroad experience the delight it has been. First, I wanted to thank my host mother. I found a florist and bought her a bouquet of roses and lavender and wrote her a card telling her how touched I was by her welcoming me into her house. I took those home and gave them to her before dinner. It is really amazing to me that this family opened their home to a complete stranger and made me feel like a member of their family.
After dinner I finished packing my suitcase with all of the things I have accumulated over the month and then met up with many of my friends to say goodbye. This was the hardest part of the day for me. When I arrived here I expected to meet people and have a great time, but I never imagined that I would form such close friendships with so many people in such a short period of time. Through the Institut de Touraine and the UA in France program I was able to meet people from all around the world who are studying the French language and really participate in a global immersion experience.
Even more difficult than saying goodbye to people from the Institute, was saying goodbye to the French friends I have made. Everyone’s experience abroad is different and one of the most influential things in your experience is the people you meet. I had the luck to meet some of the most caring, helpful, patient and fun people I have ever met. It is hard to leave after an experience like this. I feel sad and happy at the same time. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to work on my French in an immersion setting. I am so thankful that so many wonderful people happened to be studying, working and living in Tours. I will be ever grateful that those people took the chance to welcome a host of International students. People say Tours is a great place to learn French because it is a “ville vivante” and it is exactly that, a lively city that draws you in and immediately makes you feel like a member of the community. I am sad to leave, but happy that I can take all I learned with me as I head off for my next adventure. I leave Tours with so many memories and a full heart. My connection with the French language has deepened, and as much as I love Paris, I feel I can truly say that Tours has stolen my heart.