Rosa Shipley, Bordeaux

Kenyon College

Throughout my time in Bordeaux, what continued to pop into my head was how joyful I felt to have been so deeply immersed. I found that all aspects of my life, facilitated by the language pledge and its implicit intentions, touched the traditional structure of the life of a French student.

It is impossible not to be charmed by Bordeaux. Immediately, I was struck by the romantic architectural blend of gothic and Roman, in conjunction with the low lights of the South-Western French city. There is history everywhere you look.. As a place to live, Bordeaux is ideal for the possibility of mastering it: by the end of two months, I knew Centre Ville like the back of my hand. As there is not a high population of Americans in Bordeaux, finding the extremely pleasant rhythm of the city gives a sense of belonging in a new place, which further facilitated the immersion.

The absolute highlight was living with a host family. Being embraced with true patience and warmth created an environment wherein I could let go of my inhibitions of making language mistakes, and truly learn. I was inspired culturally by my family, who were experts on French music, films, and art—so we would spend our time after dinner discussing what records we liked and the way that popular culture is represented across different countries. My host dad was a wonderful cook, and we made it a project to teach me a little in the ways of French cooking; one night we made magret de canard—I was always honored he let me be his sous-chef.