When starting out my travels I was pretty open-minded about where they might take me, not wanting to shackle myself to a firm plan or a list of things I had to try and do in so many days, one of the benefits of traveling like this is the flexibility that it gives you to change your plans. Montpellier was one of those changes.
Travelling through Vietnam, and later in Europe I met some amazing people from France, and playing with my French a little, speaking (or trying to) with them in French reminded me how much fun I have speaking other languages. I also think that as tourists a lot of us get complacent when we travel to other countries and expect English is spoken. While I am not able to speak the language for every country I visit I make an effort to learn at least some key phrases that rarely fail to get a smile.
Then of course there is French and while my ability to speak it is far less than perfect I can cover the basics, speak with a few friends but it is something that I wanted to work on. Who knows one day I might even find myself living in Paris, alas that is a little way down the track. Montpellier was the city I chose to learn French located in the South of France on the beaches of the Mediterranean
Speaking French almost exclusively
When I arrived in France I enjoyed the challenge of speaking French every time I needed to buy tickets, check in, meet new people or order food in a restaurant. When I arrived in Montpellier this was more pronounced – daily classes were exclusively in French
Meeting new friends, and amazing people
While in Montpellier, I was able to meet some fascinating people from across the world, Europe, Australia, Russia and different parts of SE Asia all who had gathered to study French. While my reasons were strictly for pleasure I met people who were studying for the school break, studying for their careers a total plethora of reasons. Friendly people all, with the most interesting stories, including someone working for the UN, a student at the Moscow school of diplomacy, teachers and education workers, and high school students. I met a lot of cool people who I will never forget. I can’t mention all of you – but you know who you are (if you are reading)!
The Euro Cup games
I was fortunate that the Euro cup games were on while I was in France. There was nothing like watching the soccer in crowded European pubs packed with French fans. The Germany game in particular was a special highlight for my love of sports. Watching French fans go nuts on the score and the win that followed set the scene for a great night of partying at the end. The Iceland game was brilliant, although watching it alone in a pub represented a great chance to meet some Montpellier locals and enjoy the game!
A special shout out needs to go out to the amazing staff at LSF Montpellier – in particular my teachers – Genna and Mays, I didn’t realise but my friends tell me there is a big difference between my French before and after, and have people tell me how well I speak now (even if they are being a little too kind). At least most of that credit can be attributed to them (even correcting the same mistake every day – but I have finally learned).
Montpellier is nothing short of remarkable – this tiny little town in the Mediterranean, rich with French culture. Within a short drive there are some beautiful sights – St Guilhem le Desert and Carcassonne were two of the highlights, both of them amazing cities within driving distance of Montpellier – and for anyone staying there must see places!
All in all, I had a great 3 weeks in Montpellier, while it was a little more subdued than I had planned I met some amazing people, saw some amazing things and managed to polish my French so I can speak a little better with friends. The next challenge is pushing it to the next level.