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Spending my 19th Birthday at ILA Montpellier

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Spending my 19th Birthday at ILA Montpellier

I woke up on Tuesday morning in my Student residence in Montpellier, and went into the shared kitchen for breakfast. Some of my fellow students were also there and wished me a happy birthday – one of them had even bought me a pain au chocolat with a candle in it to celebrate! On the way to school I walked down Boulevard de Jeu de Paume, which is lined with beautiful palm trees, as the sun was rising – what a lovely way to start my birthday! When I went into my French class, the teacher and all of my classmates sang ‘Joyeux Anniversaire’ to me. My teacher was so kind and had bought me a chocolate brownie with a candle for me to blow out – this was really lovely as it made me feel at home and reminded me of my family.

In our French lessons (which take place between 9 and 12:15am) we learned about the Passé Simple. I had already encountered the Passé Simple in the book ‘La Coeur à Rire et à Pleurer’, by Maryse Condé – which I had read in French while studying here at ILA Montpellier – but it was good to understand exactly how it is formed. I also thoroughly enjoy learning about French grammar so it was a great way to start the lesson. We have a break every morning at 10:30 where you can go outside and chat to your friends from different classes, grab a coffee or smoothie from the café next door, and have a snack like a pain au chocolat or a piece of fruit. After the break we went back to our French lessons and began to prepare to write our ‘Production Écrite’, a piece of written French work on a current topic which we do every Tuesday morning. This week the topic was ‘Vit-on dans un monde trop compétitif?’ (Do we live in a world which is too competitive?), and so I wrote (in French!) about capitalism, the dangers of being too competitive, the school system, and Hobbes’s philosophy that competition is an intrinsic part of human nature.

After school my cousin met me outside (she was staying in an Airbnb near to my Student residence specially for my birthday) and we went to get brunch! We went to this lovely brunch place in Montpellier called ‘Bonobo’, which I would highly recommend. I ordered the American-style pancakes with bacon, and she got avocado on toast. We both also decided to treat ourselves to a Bloody Mary to celebrate my birthday! The food was absolutely delicious, and we were so full afterwards we decided to relax by reading our books in the park next to my Student residence. I think one of the best things about doing the ILA language stay in Montpellier is that everything is so close – the only times I’ve ever had to take the tram is to go to a club which is a bit further out of the city centre, otherwise everything is easily within walking distance.

After sunbathing and reading in the park for a while we decided to walk to the Musée Fabre. The museum was absolutely amazing – both my cousin and I thoroughly enjoyed looking at all the older paintings as well as the modern art. Just before we were about to leave, I spotted a painting by the French painter Berthe Morisot called ‘L’été’. I took a photo of it to show to our grandmother, an art historian, who absolutely adores Morisot both as an artist and a feminist icon. This also made my birthday incredibly special, as it was completely by chance that we stumbled across one of her paintings. We had a really lovely time at the museum, especially because, as students, we got in for free!

To end the day we went for dinner in a lovely restaurant called ‘le Vieux Four’, right in the centre of Montpellier, where I had a steak and my cousin had pasta with crevettes. The food was exquisite, and not too expensive – it was also incredibly impressive that there was just one woman working there who both cooked and waited on everyone. After our meal, we went to get cocktails at Rosemarie (both restaurants are right in the heart of Montpellier). We went to Rosemarie for a meal the Sunday before, and it was absolutely delicious – I cannot recommend either of these restaurants enough! After Rosemarie, we went to get another (!) cocktail at a bar called Black Out. There, we met some French girls, and I was able to practice speaking French – I got their numbers so I can hopefully see them again, as they were both lovely and it would really help with my French language skills. One of my favourite things about studying French here in Montpellier is that, due to the immersive nature of the course, I am able to practice and improve my French in almost any situation!