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Learn French at the Language School ILA – a weekend of unplanned surprises, by Annika (Germany)

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A weekend of unplanned surprises, by Annika (Germany)

My language trip to France begins on a Sunday morning. Still I do not know my host family. I do not know if they only speak French or even a little English. I have not learned French at school and therefore did not possess any language skills. But the French immersion course in Montpellier is also my vacation and I will also be able to practice what I have learned locally. Hopefully Montpellier is a beautiful city and will match my expectation. ILA organized everything very well prior to my departure, so nothing should go wrong.

After the first week of my language immersion course in Montpellier I can thankfully say that all my expectations have been more than fulfilled. I’ve been assigned a wonderful host family by ILA. The apartment is located near the old town of Montpellier and together with me lives another student from Sweden. The family speaks English very well, what prevents that I MUST speak French, but allows that they can give me an insight into Montpellier and useful tips. They are also very hard to challenge my French language skills over and over again since it is the school’s policy that families only speak French to their guest. And even if it is only little at the beginning, I’m starting to understand French. When I walk through the streets of Montpellier, then I hear not only confused gibberish, but understand words and part of sentences.

I understand at the checkout of the supermarket how much I have to pay and if I want to buy a train ticket I manage. It is great advantage to learn French in France; even if one has the feeling not being able to make full sentences, you realize when you are shopping, at the bar etc. you understand more and more. During the courses we only speak French. I am glad that all the other French immersion students come from different countries and have different ages. We all exchange very well, learn French and have a lot of fun.

I decided quickly for a French Immersion program in Montpellier. I did not make long researches what Montpellier is about. However, now being there I can tell you the city is amazing. Beautiful, dynamic and a lot of fun! If desired, one can speak much French with very friendly locals. It is a very vibrant and diverse city, as I stated in the first week in many places. One can just walk through the streets and continues to find many new beautiful places. Coming from Berlin I am used to long trips from A to B, but even though the center of the city is so colorful, you can reach almost everything within walking distance. The highlights of the first week definitely include the many spontaneous attractions such as e.g. the many beautiful and lovingly made delicacies of the Boulangerie Ortholon or even hours of street music at a relaxed Wednesday night out on one of the many squares in the city. There are numerous and for students often very cheap or even free exhibitions and many festivals and concerts.

During the week, which was marked by very intense but also fun lessons at ILA, I planned for Friday afternoon a walk along the river Lez to the nearby zoo of Montpellier and to participate on Saturday in a very interesting excursion Roquefort, organized by ILA. ILA activities are a great way to meet other students from many different countries.

But all did not quite go as planned…

When I started my walk after my French immersion Friday afternoon along the Lez to get to the Zoo Lunaret it was hot and the sun was burning on the skin. I quickly realized that the planned path was not that easy to find. So I turned off wrong somewhere and came suddenly during a long march to several vineyards offering a marvelous scenario. It was afternoon time and no shade in sight. First, I found the walk amusing and picked wild blackberries. From a hill I could look out over the beautiful mountain and valley landscape and enjoyed the time to myself. After some more walking there was still no civilization in view, so I doubted somewhat whether I should run the way back or if I even would go to the zoo. Overlooking Google maps I could see that I was somewhere in Castelnau de Lez and after a few more steps to an expressway I could eventually see houses and streets. And indeed, after some hours, I came eventually to the tram station Charles de Gaule and could from there reach the park on a very nice walk along the Lez. Since there were only 30 minutes to closing time, I relaxed only a brief moment and cooled my feet in the water. So if you even need a break from the city, you can take the tram to the said station and reach the park on foot from there in 20 min.

Montpellier and my French Immersion Program are just excellent. I can really recommend the ILA French school and Montpellier as a city is just perfect for a French Immersion stay.

Annika, Germany (ILA student)