California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
Parker Ornellas, Alumni Ambassador
1. How did you find ways to experience the local culture?
While abroad in Aix-en-Provence, I was fortunate enough to experience a rich and thriving French culture right in front of me and easy to partake in. The first way I like to experience any culture is through food and drink. In Aix there were many restaurants and cafes catered to English speakers, however, these types of places were not the type to offer cultural growth. I found that going to authentic French cafes and restaurants where people speak little to no English was the best way to engage in the culture and better my language proficiency. On the topic of food, buying from the local markets and engaging in conversations with the vendors made me feel right at home in France as well as yielded some delicious produce.
2. Language Tips
Studying another language can be extremely discouraging sometimes. One day I felt I was improving immensely and the next I felt completely comprehensible to a native French speaker. When this happens it’s easy to succumb to the overwhelming urge to only speak English, but it’s essential not to give in. Only practicing another language in a school course is not proficient enough to improve. It’s extremely important to practice outside of the classroom setting. I was lucky to befriend two French university students who helped me with my grammar and taught me useful lingo. I also listened to french music and had designated times when my roommate and I would speak to each other only in French.