Learning French in Grenoble

November 6, 2017

This post comes to us from Amelia Bowen who is currently studying in Grenoble, France. She is an International Relations and French Major from American University. 

It’s been a fun first few weeks in Grenoble; there are a million and one things to see, new activities to try and beautiful mountain ranges to ogle. Yet despite leisure activities and manageable class schedules, in addition to home-cooked meals not available to the average college student, I am exhausted. Why? Because my brain is literally working all the time.

There are a lot of benefits to learning a new language, beyond simply communicating with those in other communities. Learning a language is basically a mental workout since it is exercising a part of your brain that is not usually accessed every day! 

Oh my GOSH – I am exhausted. Each night, I got to bed and wake up completely beat. I walk more in Grenoble than I do in the United States, and there is no longer such a thing as passive listening; if I want to engage, it takes effort. I have never been tested in such a unique way before I came to a place where the language is something I have never experienced in its entirety.

It’s hard to sleep in a new bed in an unfamiliar place when you don’t speak the language, but at the same time, there is a level of satisfaction that comes with being as tired as I am. Yes, my body and mind are worn out, but I know that today, I learned something that I didn’t know and cemented knowledge I might have lost otherwise.

So how have I dealt with this tiredness? Simple: I’ve toughed it out. Yes, sometimes I want to sleep forever and wake up back in my hometown, but there is simply too much to do! There are new restaurants to try, rivers to canoe down in the night, castles to learn about and French citizens to meet. I wasn’t prepared for the exhaustion I feel but I think that I – and all of my American peers – have adapted quickly. It has bonded us together and showed us that our activities are exercising a part of ourselves that doesn’t get out much.

Sometimes, being completely wiped is a way to know that you’re doing something incredible. And that type of tiredness can’t be bought or explained; you just have to experience it for yourself.


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