Journey to Grenoble

July 11, 2017

This post is from Andrea Garcia- Plata from Virginia Commonwealth University. Andrea is a  Liberal Studies for Early and Elementary Education Major,  with a French Minor currently studying in Grenoble, France. 

This year, I was in France for the Fourth of July.

It doesn’t mean much in France, but for the Summer 2 Program students in Grenoble, it marks the end of the first week in France!


I know, very exciting. And quite honestly, it doesn’t feel like it’s only been a week. We’ve been so busy exploring that it’s felt like it’s been ages.

We arrived in Paris first and the whole group ran around to the many of the touristy locations and activities. We all wanted to appear as Parisians, but we couldn’t help having our large cameras out taking pictures of everything. There is a good mix of people in the group, and so far we have all gotten along super well.

Being in Paris was fun because we got to practice the little (or the hefty) amount of French we knew. The people seem to be patient with us and fortunately (and unfortunately) many speak English.

Here are some photos I took from our time in Paris:

This image was taken our first day in Paris! We did a mini cruise tour down the Seine River. The tour guide spoke in French and English. This was a great opportunity to interact with each other as well as begin to interact with other locals (or tourists) who were also on the same boat! The tour guide shared some interesting facts about the different bridges that connect the mini islands of Paris.

This image was taken the day the group climbed up the towers of Notre Dame. It was a beautiful view. I found this particular view amusing because the gargoyle was staring down towards the city of Paris, with the Eiffel Tower towards the left in the horizon.

And one of our last excursions (as well as one of my favorite) was the guided tour at the Louvre!

Here I am with my homegirl Mona Lisa! The tour was about an hour long and we had a guide that shared the fascinating backstory on a series of masterpieces.

The days in Paris were exhausting but worth it. The group got to establish better relationships with each other and we were able to explore the city on our free time. Next stop, Grenoble.

After talking to our residence director about moving in with our host families, I started to get a bit nervous. It suddenly hit me that I’d be spending a month living in the home of someone I’d never met before… I was a bit overwhelmed with the idea of having to follow specific French table manners, I was afraid of doing the wrong thing and accidentally offending the family. I was even worried the daughter wouldn’t like me!

But something beautiful happened on the way to Grenoble…

A rainbow appeared! It was perfect because its various colors helped calm my nerves and it reminded me that everything would be just fine.

Grenoble is beyond beautiful. It’s all you could want in a place to live. There are some very nice museums, a busy downtown center, yummy restaurants, good hiking trails, and there is a lot of history! It seems to be a good fit for anyone! Also, we are surrounded by mountains, and the views are pretty amazing.

Being with my host family has been a lot easier than I expected it to be. There were a few minor mix-ups… It’s complicated but let’s just say that I felt embarrassed but I also got a good laugh at myself. I figured if you have a good sense of humor than you should be fine. My host family enjoys playing board games and they have a serious sweet tooth. Every day after dinner we eat dessert and play a game together. This is when I get to use my French the most!

This university specializes in teaching French to foreign students. There are students from China, Hong-Kong, United States, and even Spain! It’s fun to talk about the different things we’ve learned in school and sharing our experiences with our host families.

I am grateful for API being very welcoming and well-organized during our excursion in Paris as well as having access to the API office every day! It helps us connect with each other as well as feeling like we have a mini-USA if we ever feel homesick!

Until next time! Au revoir!


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