Getting to Montpellier
I got into France a little over a month ago for the third time in my life. The first time was when I was around 1 year old living in the Netherlands with my parents. I've heard many stories from my parents of our year visiting Europe and I've also been shown the photo albums we've carefully kept from the experience but unfortunately I can't add any of my own memories to this collection. Despite how young I was I really feel like the year I spent in Europe as a baby was a driving force behind my visits to France in the years to come.
The second year I spent in Europe was about 16 years later during my senior year in high school. I was lucky enough to be introduced to the Rotary club by a good friend of my dad's. Rotary has clubs around the world and they regularly send students from one club to another for a year as exchange students. I applied for the program without any real intention of actually going to France for a year but the farther along in the process I got the more I realized that this was actually happening. I ended up spending 11 months in a small town in the south of France pretty close to Nîmes with three different host families. Those 11 months brought out some of the most intense emotions I've felt in my entire life. I can't say that there weren't times where I would've hopped on a plane back to the States in a heartbeat if given the opportunity. Luckily for me that opportunity was always far enough away to convince me to give this new country a try. After about three months in France I knew this was going to be one of the best years of my life.
After 11 months living with french families, going to a french high school, and hanging out with french friends, I became connected to the french language in a way that everyone that spends time abroad can probably understand. Even more than that I became connected to France and in particular the south of France. Ok the weather plays a pretty big role but there is some kind of common attitude between everyone that lives in the south that I can't get enough of. I couldn't really put a finger on it the first year I was here but I knew that I wanted to spend more time here. That's what pushed me to study abroad once again but this time in the exact same area as I was the last time. After looking through the study abroad programs offered by the University of Minnesota I was immediately attracted to the Montpellier program. I was so attracted that I applied and am now studying at University of Montpellier 3 for the academic year. A few people have asked me why I didn't go at least to a different area in France or even a new country all together. I still don't really know how to respond but I'm starting to feel like this place might just be my permanent home in the near future.