Questions/Comments?Contact Us

85 posts categorized "Toulouse Language"

Let's go on a Rando!



Our view overlooking the Mediterranean as we hiked. So rad! 

As you know, we visited Port-Vendres this past weekend for a petit repose and vacances! After falling asleep with bellies full of delicious paella and hearts full of the warmth and joie-de-vivre of Southern France, we woke up to more delicious food: coffee, hot cocoa,  and tartines, or toast with artisanal jams and spreads--a traditional French petit-déj (breakfast). Now with bellies full of sugary goodness and hearts pumping with caffeine, we headed to the hills for a six kilometer hike from Port-Vendres to Paulliles to swim in the Mediterranean! 

We couldn't believe our eyes as we looked over the cliffs to see the contrast of the arid mountain landscape against clear blue-green waters...and the occasional naked sun bather. It was an exhausting uphill climb for about the first mile and a half, but I think it was Ya playing Kanye West on her phone that got most of the students through...


Mathilde telling us where the heck to go and how to not get lost


Grace, Lily, and Sofia crushin' it!


You go, Glen Coco! ...I mean you go, Lavinia, Keaton, and Cindy!


Eri, Christine, Antonia, and Caitlin bein' cuties. 


PLs Bridgette and Kyle leading the way


Antonia and Sofia stop for a quick selfie break, an important part of the hiking process.



And then, just like that, we made it to the sea. It was such a beautiful experience floating in cool waters looking up at cloud speckled skies and vineyards on the mountainsides. We were sad to leave Port-Vendres and we will be terribly sad to leave France altogether, but I think it's safe to say that the world we experienced here, we'll take home with us and carry long afterward. 




Here's a bonus photo of me frantically rummaging through my bags after getting off the bus in Toulouse thinking I had left my cafar, my French phone, at the rest stop--a panic our students know all too well. You're welcome...

We're almost home! Tonight we have our farewell party and tomorrow, bright and early, we get on our flights home. 

Until next time!


Lana, PL. 

Aeroscopia, l'histoire d'aeronautique

Last week Toulouse Session 2 got to visit Aeroscopia, which is one of the highlights of Toulouse's identity. The aviation museum, near the airport at Blagnac, is where Airbus' headquarters are located, the company that employs a third of Toulouse's work force.  This was the ideal visit for Garrett, a future Airplane Engineer and modern airplane enthusiast.  


Students were guided around the museum and shown different types of airplanes including the first airplane ever manufactured, the immense Super Guppy that looks like a pregnant fish, and even the infamous Concorde.  Students learned that air travel began as an extreme sport, then became a military endeavor before developing into a mail delivery service that finally led to travel for passengers.  


We were joined by Mister Jean, a retired aeronautical engineer, that answered all the questions that Sam, Benjamin, and Traolach had about the field of aeronautics.  He described the different aircrafts for them and even debated the possibilities of the future of air travel.  

Mister Jean discussing the future of aviation with Sam, Benji, and Traolach.



To wrap up our day in the sky, Mister Jean took on questions from all of the students at l'Institut Catholique.  He answered everything from his age to the various positions he held throughout his career to the catastrophic fate of the Concorde.  Overall, it was a day filled with the wonder of how humans took to the sky and the possibilities of future travel.


Lola Climb

Salut tout le monde!

My name is Lola and I am currently participating in the CIEE study abroad program here in Toulouse, France. On Monday after French class, we had the afternoon free, and a couple of us and program leader Alannah decided we would try to venture out in search of a rock climbing gym here in Toulouse. Our first plan to go to a place called Solo Escalade fell through because apparently people here like to have vacation and the facility was closed on Monday. However, we found another place called Block Out that seemed to be only thirty minutes away, so off we went! Our first plan was to take the metro and transfer to a bus, but after exiting the metro we realized that we had missed the previous bus by two minutes, and the next one wasn’t going to come for another half an hour. So, we got back onto the metro and tried again, going back four stops and switching to a different bus. After waiting for this bus for another 12 minutes, we were finally on our way. When the bus finally came to our stop, we realized we were in the middle of nowhere. Literally. We weren’t about to give up hope just yet though, so we trekked along the side of the highway searching for the climbing gym. Finally, we see it, completing what should've been a thirty minute journey in just over an hour and fifteen minutes. (It was right next to a trampoline park, so if it was closed at least we had some other options that weren’t too bad.)


Here's a picture I found of Blockout Toulouse

Before I go on, let me explain rock climbing a little bit to you. The kind of climbing we did was called bouldering, which is basically climbing without a rope over shorter walls. In bouldering, a grading system based on difficulty is used. In the United States, the V scale is used. Grades range right now from V0, which is similar to climbing a ladder, to V17, which I’d imagine would be similar to trying to climb a concrete wall, so pretty much impossible. Bouldering is a little bit like trying to solve real live puzzles. Here’s a video explaining it more if you are interested:


After putting on some climbing shoes, we were ready to hit the wall!


Christine crushing it on the wall-- a natural climber! 


Caitlin working on some overhung climbs


Tesla looking très forte!


Top out!


A la prochaine! 



On y va! : La Ferme Pédagogique

On a beautiful Wednesday afternoon, session 2 Toulousers headed to a farm outside Toulouse to check out that rural life! Taking a metro, a bus, and our own two legs, we arrived at La Ferme Cinquante, an educational farm. Check it out here! With the goal in mind of educating the public about how and why farmers sustain their agriculture and livestock, Toulousers split into two different groups to take a private tour of the shared gardens, and a self-led tour of the livestock. I bet you can guess which one was cuter (as much as I love fresh produce, there is something about a donkey that is just ADORABLE!). 








After our visit of the animals, we got to see the gardens, full of fruits and vegetables and flowers!



Finally, we planted seeds (green bean seeds to be exact!) in biodegradable pots to offer to our host families as tokens of our appreciation, as well as the importance of being self-sufficient and bio!





Although it was a hot one, it was a fun day in the sun with animals and biodiversity! Heading back to the Institut Catholique for our pique nique after having made new animal and plant friends, the rest of the day was in class working on our last week's project! 

Tomorrow we have an activity at Toulouse Plage or a swimming pool, and then it is our farewell party! It will be hard to say goodbye, but man what a great time we have had so far!

On y va! : La Ferme Pédagogique

On a beautiful Wednesday afternoon, session 2 Toulousers headed to a farm outside Toulouse to check out that rural life! Taking a metro, a bus, and our own two legs, we arrived at La Ferme Cinquante, an educational farm. Check it out here! With the goal in mind of educating the public about how and why farmers sustain their agriculture and livestock, Toulousers split into two different groups to take a private tour of the shared gardens, and a self-led tour of the livestock. I bet you can guess which one was cuter (as much as I love fresh produce, there is something about a donkey that is just ADORABLE!). 








After our visit of the animals, we got to see the gardens, full of fruits and vegetables and flowers!



Finally, we planted seeds (green bean seeds to be exact!) in biodegradable pots to offer to our host families as tokens of our appreciation, as well as the importance of being self-sufficient and bio!





Although it was a hot one, it was a fun day in the sun with animals and biodiversity! Heading back to the Institut Catholique for our pique nique after having made new animal and plant friends, the rest of the day was in class working on our last week's project! 

Tomorrow we have an activity at Toulouse Plage or a swimming pool, and then it is our farewell party! It will be hard to say goodbye, but man what a great time we have had so far!

Musée de résistance : Foressia Hood's Account!

Yesterday, a small group of open-minded students and their program leaders Kyle and Bridgette, embarked on a journey to Musée Départemental De La Résistance et De La Déportation, which talks about the resistance during World War II, where France was infiltrated by Germany and to the eyes of the public, trapped in a lose-lose battle. During World War II, Hitler sent his men all throughout Europe to claim land with the ultimate goal to rule the world. While other countries were easily defeated and followed the commands of the Nazis, the citizens of France did not believe in giving up and formed “De Résistance” which was made up of ordinary citizens of France, Men, Women, and children, fighting for their freedom.



“Our Tour Guide explaining how the Radio was the first act of resistance against the Nazi.”


When the Nazi started gathering up Jews to kill, the citizens in France tried to hide the Jews by creating false identity papers to help Jews escape going to prison and ultimately dying. There were in total 10,000 people arrested in Toulouse alone (76,000 arrested in France) just for being a Jew. While in a situation, where little hope is portrayed, the Resistance portrayed the citizens as soldiers with strength and bravery. Other people aided France in the fight against Nazi because they share the same values in liberty and knew this was ultimately the fight for Europe, the fight for the world.



What interested me the most about the Musée Départemental De La Résistance et De La Déportation was the explanation on the concentration camps. I knew the ultimate goal was to kill everyone within the camps, but I did not know that there were smaller goals for the concentration camps which included dehumanizing the people by changing their names to numbers, shaving their heads, and other downgrading actions to destroy their self-esteem within themselves. I also learned that concentration camps was not only for the Jews, but also for the people who resisted against the Nazi to use as their punishment.


Here are some picture highlights:








Overall, the Musée Départemental De La Résistance et De La Déportation was très intéressant and a definite must see if you travel to Toulouse. Shout-out to Toulouse Session 2 students. Let’s enjoy our last few days in Toulouse together.


Yours Truly,

Foressia Hood, Toulouse Session 2 Student

La vie à Toulouse: Student Guest Post by Caroline Heater

Carolineblog 1

Hello, everyone!! I am a "Toulouser" and my name's Caroline (but in French it's pronounced "kah-row-lean" with that phlegm-filled R sound). I'm 16 and I'm from High Point, North Carolina. I'm writing this at the start of my third week in Toulouse! And in case you wanted to know what I look like, here's a photo of me.

Also something you should know about me is that I love lists and here are three reasons why:

1. They're easy to create for almost any topic. 

2. They're easy to read because they're pleasing to the eye.

3. They're more entertaining than regular writing. 


See, I just made a list about why I love lists!

Unlike most of the other Toulousers here with me, I am NOT a city slicker. To give you some reference, High Point has a population of 110,000 and Chicago (the home of the majority of the Session 2 Toulousers) has a population of 2.7 million. But to me, the population density is not as defining as the mere aura of a city. Big cities move faster and there's an entirely different flow of life. It's hard to explain precisely, but I'm not used to this new feeling of city-life, and I'm really enjoying it. That alone is my favorite part of studying in Toulouse: the undeniable energy of the city that vitalizes me. 

My other favorite part of studying in Toulouse is my family. I mean it when I say that I could not have received a better family. I have a very kind and understanding mom, a really funny dad, and a cool brother. (Pictures below) 



In my opinion, the homestay experience is the one component that differentiates an ordinary study abroad trip from an extraordinary study abroad trip. I want this blog post to stand out. Therefore, I'm not gonna give you the intense rundown of my emotions and how I'm dealing with them or explicit details of everything I've done so far or any sappy quotes and comments about the magical experience of travelling and here's why: 


1. Y'all don't need to hear nor do you want to hear about my petty teenage-girl emotions or struggles etc. (those are reserved for my diary, duh).

2. From what I've read on this site, y'all get a pretty explicit rundown of every significant thing us Toulousers are doing from learning how to make French pastries or attempting to hip hop dance at a studio (graciously written by our super rad program leaders Bridgette, Kyle, Becca, Lana, and Cynthia)

3. I'm sure all of y'all have seen lots of inspiring quotes, videos, photos, blog posts, elsewhere about how wonderful and life-changing travelling can be (it's not that I don't appreciate how incredible travelling is, it's just that I don't feel obligated to contribute to the mass of sappy, travel-themed paraphernalia).

Instead, I'd like to give you readers the raw reality of what it's like to study abroad. All the embarrassing moments, strange observations, ups and downs, curious thoughts, and (sometimes) trying challenges. I want to tell you things you wouldn't know if you've never studied abroad first-hand, and hopefully answer some questions you might have about what it's like. 

To start, I have a pretty hefty list of things that are different/interesting in France (I started a list on my first day here). You have a chance to see through the lens of an all-American girl witnessing the wonders of southern France!! Wow!! 

(DISCLAIMER: these are not generalizations of ALL FRENCH PEOPLE, just quirks and characteristics I've noticed of French people I've met or my French family, or of French culture IN MY FRENCH HOME in general. Also, I love France and French people and I don't want any of these to sound biased or hateful ALSO, if I use the term "mom" or "dad" or "brother" immediately assume I'm referring to my host-mom, host-dad, and host-brother. If I'm referring to my US family I will specify.)

1. Smoking is very common and it's allowed in many more public areas than in the US. 

2. The name for the USA in French is "États-Unis" literally "States-United". But if you look more closely, you will realize that the French word for state is just "state" spelled backwards and with an accent.

3. Pedestrians do NOT have the right of way, therefore, they are held responsible in legal cases (with exceptions I imagine, like if a car came up on the sidewalk or something I don't know). However, this doesn't mean I've seen people get hit by a car. Only one (true story, I will share later); the drivers are still respectful and considerate of pedestrians, just not as much as they are in the US because they aren't required by law.

4. The bathroom arrangements. Even though there are three bathrooms in the house that I'm staying in, only one has a toilet. One bathroom (the one used by the family for bathing) has a sink and mirror, a bedeau, and a bathtub with a handheld shower faucet that you manually wash your body with (Pictures below).





The bathroom in my room has a sink and mirror and a regular standing shower with a mounted faucet (pictured below). And then there's a separate tiny bathroom (right by the kitchen) with a toilet and only a toilet (pictured below).This means that me and 3 other people share one toilet. Also, this means that after one uses the toilet, one has to travel to another bathroom right after, to go wash one's hands. (Or use the kitchen sink, but that sink only has dish soap). For some reason, this is very silly to me, but it's how their house was designed. 

 1. The toilet bowls themselves are much deeper and longer than in the US and they flush with a little silver button on the top behind the bowl.

2. My family doesn’t save leftovers and eat them later. I knew that to-go boxes in restaurants weren't a thing because they give smaller portions, but I thought they would still do home-cooked meals as leftovers. They don't. One of my first nights here I asked if I could pack the leftovers of the dinner we were eating for my school lunch the next day, and the look they gave me was a mixture of surprise and disgust. They said (this was all in French of course) "If you want to, you can, but it will be very gross and cold." I did take it and it tasted fine, but I decided never to ask again. 

3. I have yet to see chip clips. All the open bags of cereal, chips, etc. stay open and unsealed. The only thing I’ve seen sealed is bread, but no chip clips. There was one morning when I tried to pour myself some of my favorite French sugary cereal and nothing fell out of the half-full bag when I tipped it over because the sugars had melted in the heat and hardened the mass of cereal into a rock. I showed my mom and she pulled out what looked like an ice pick and began to stab the cereal until it broke apart. I couldn't help from laughing because she looked like a true serial killer. *wink* In the end, it tasted the same. 

4. Ziplock bags are less common. On the rare occasion they want to save food for a later time, they use tinfoil.

5. Breakfasts here are typically on the sweet side, compared to the savory American breakfasts I’m used to. Most French people's breakfasts include a cup of coffee and a small cake, cookie, or croissant. When I asked if I could make myself eggs one morning and THEN I added salt to it, my parents were in a bit of shock. But they understood I need protein to last through these busy days. 

6. They don't eat much between meals. Snacking is frowned upon. 

7. They never eat anything sweet except for breakfast and sometimes after lunch and always after dinner. (My family worships this rule)

8. Their milk comes in smaller bottles; it's kinda like in the old days when the milk man would come around with a dozen or so glass bottles of milk. The bottles are that size and you usually buy a pack of half a dozen or a dozen bottles. Also, they're not refrigerated in the grocery store. They only have to be refrigerated once they're opened. Also, they don't expire for a LONG time. The first bottle I drank out of when I got here didn't expire until OCTOBER 10, 2017!! I thought the milk-carton-expiration-date-printer had made a mistake. 




1. They only drink/use milk for breakfast. At home in the US, I drink skim milk with every meal, which means we buy 3-4 gallons a week. It's not like that here.

2. Here, they drink water with most meals. The water comes from 1 Liter bottles they buy in grocery stores (which they don't refrigerate). My family doesn’t drink their tap water (pictured below).


1. The cups are tiny and their drinks are almost never cold because they don’t use ice very often. (In the photo it doesn't look very tiny but I promise it is)


2. You can't legally drive a car by yourself until you're 18.

3. New drivers (18-year-olds that passed their test and are fortunate enough to use or own a car) have to put a sticker on the back of their cars with a white background and a bright red capital letter "A". (You tell me if that's a little ironic) It stands for "Apprenti" which is like having a provisional license.

4. You can legally drink alcohol at 18.

5. The doors shut differently. This isn't for all doors, but a lot of the doors in my house and also in the house of my mom's friend are peculiar. They don't shut by being pushed fully under/into the frame. They were made to just rest against the frame, so even when the door is shut, it looks like it's not. I learned this the hard way after pushing with all my might (thinking "Wow this door really is tough to close") and my brother informed me it's already shut.

6. In my house, a lot of the doors lock in the house (not just the front door, bedroom doors, and bathroom doors but also the door to the kitchen, office, and closet), but they don't lock by pushing/twisting a little button on the handle but rather with a very old-fashioned, hand-held key.

7. AC isn’t as widely used as it is in the US. There are very few places I visit that have AC (really nice cafés and restaurants). Instead, they keep the windows and doors wide open. I love it personally. It's the whole idea of bringing the outdoors in. It's fun before the mosquitos (which they call "muhstique"). Since I've arrived here I've probably obtained 26 or so mosquito bites. 

8. Also, all the windows in my house (including the full-length windows that are the size of a door and sometimes used as doors) have shutters. The dramatic kind that you open by using two hands and leaning out your window with birds chirping and wind blowing through your hair and mice helping you stitch your clothes. (Just kidding that only happens in Cinderella's world). (This photo is the front of my house)



9. Also a lot of the windows open by a vertical slit down the center (you pull towards yourself to open them) whereas in the US they often open horizontally by someone pushing upwards. (This photo is of my lovely bedroom)


1. Spongebob is "Bubbly Pons". When I first heard this from my mom's friend's 18 year-old-son, I actually started crying because I was laughing so hard.

2. Ketchup is much sweeter.

3. They speak and laugh much quieter. I've had tons of moments where I was with my friends at a café or just walking down the street talking and laughing as loud as we wanted to, and I look around and realize, I can barely hear any of the other conversations happening around us. 

4. A very popular chain grocery store is named "Casino" and so there are giant signs for "Casino" on every corner. At first I thought the people of Toulouse had a serious gambling problem or something. (Photo below)


1. If you think Nutella is loved in the US, it's WORSHIPPED in France.

2. They love American shows, but of course, they have French voices speaking over the English ones.

3. The bathrooms aren't separated by gender (or at least the bathrooms at our school). It's just one big bathroom with separate stalls. What's really weird is that the stall doors have signs indicating male or female but all the stalls are identical. It's not like the male stalls have urinals in them or anything, they're all the same. 

4. Public bathrooms and trash cans are less common, even in the center of Toulouse.

5. Almost all the cars are manual-drive.

6. They have TONS of roundabouts and sometimes the public buses have to go up on the center median to get around them. 

7. Sometimes I wonder if they don't mind having tons of gnats in their faces. One night I was playing volleyball with my dad, my neighbor, and my neighbor's dad in the backyard, and the gnats were literally unbearable; now I don't live in a cabin or anything, but like I said, I'm not a city slicker. I'm a Girl Scout; I'm very comfortable in nature and comfortable with bugs so when I say it was unbearable, I mean it. These gnats were going up my nose and in my ears. It was a nightmare, and I could see they were attacking everyone else too but they weren't phased by it. It was bizarre. I think this stems from a cultural difference wherein the French believe nature is acting on them and Americans tend to view nature as something they can control. 

8. They love to wear neutral/dark colors and prints, which of course means I always stick out like a sore thumb.

9. Clothes dryers are less common so it's a great joy to have my underwear hanging in the yard for the whole world to see (that was sarcasm).

10. Dinner is between 7 and 9 PM.


So now for the ups:

1Feeling wildly cool for being in a foreign country for a whole month without your parents.

2Having something really cool for your summer. The question "What are you gonna do this summer?" and then later "What did you do this summer?" is the perfect setup for a coolness competition and you always win.

3You really learn what it's like to be without your friends and family for a whole month, and a lot of maturing can occur.

4You also learn how other people live, and it is very enlightening on one's perspective.

5It's just generally a ton of fun.

6It's a great chance to eat a ton of REALLY good food (especially desserts).

7It's cool to be the center of attention in a new family. All eyes are on you, and somehow you always manage to make them laugh with your silly accent or poor grammar.

8It's a great chance to meet new people from the US that are your age.

9It's a great chance to take a ton of awesome photos and videos.

10You get to use the target language in real-life scenarios, and you become much more comfortable and confident with it.

11It's a great chance to meet new French adults and peers. 

12It's a great chance to learn how to navigate a city without a GPS and/or how to use public transportation. 

13It's really fun to find the best store for crêpes, macarons, wifi, fast meals, good deals on clothes, etc. in a new city you're not familiar with.

14And loads more.



And the downs:

1. It's wildly tiring. More tiring than you'd expect. Not only physically but also mentally. Everything that used to be really easy at home (like talking about your day during dinner, or asking for more food, or politely explaining how you need more soap, or asking if you can stay in the city after school tomorrow) now takes at least a little bit more brain effort if not a lot more. Your brain gets very very exhausted from all the use. Also, I never actually fell asleep before midnight or woke after 6:30 AM. It's challenging to get the right amount of sleep. And also, the days are all jam-packed with activities that sometimes require a good amount of physical exertion (like walking all over the city or dancing in a hip hop class).

2. It can actually be very frustrating. There were a few times where I wished no one would speak to me in French, not because I didn't want to have conversations in French, but because I was so sick of feeling like a burden. For me personally, it's really really hard for me to hear French and comprehend it. Speaking is an absolute breeze for me. Of course I forget certain vocabulary and I make mistakes, but my sentences flow very easily and my pronunciation is good enough that French people understand me. But listening and comprehending is still a big struggle for me, and sometimes I feel like it's such a burden for French people to try and communicate with me, and I feel embarrassed. Sometimes I feel like we might as well be silent because the amount of effort it takes to keep a conversation going makes it not worth it. 

3. Culture shock is real. For me, I don't experience any homesickness but I do experience culture shock. I don't know why they don't just call it "Craving your native language and rejecting the target language" because that's all it really is. I keep getting little spurts of it especially early in the morning, but they pass eventually. Ultimately, you just gotta keep on keeping on.

4. It's more difficult to form an impression of someone when they speak very little English. I think we form impressions of people by studying what they wear, what they do and probably the biggest part of how we characterize people (really without even realizing we're doing it) is by noting what they say and the way in which they say it. So when it's difficult to note that, you have this gap in your impression of them. For example, for the first week and a half I really thought my brother didn't like me very much because he often laughed when I tried to speak French, but then later he gave me a phone charger for my iPhone with the correct outlet (for France) and that was really nice so maybe he does like me. He just speaks so fast that I can't keep up.

5. It's a little frustrating not being able to keep up with/contribute to conversations amongst French people during meals, car-rides, etc. 

6. It can be hard to express yourself in all the ways you would like to. Not just verbally but also, you always want to seem polite and happy and positive and sometimes it's hard to tell if you're doing a good job of that. Also it's hard to tell what they think of you if they don't explicitly state it. It was actually my biggest concern before I came to France that my family would think I was really stupid and that they wouldn't be able to sense my humor/sarcasm, etc., but thankfully they have, and I know for sure because they said so.

7. Some things that you have at your home in the US can be hard to be without like AC, pets, parents, siblings, friends, no homework in the summer, a car and the freedom to drive it, certain foods, sleeping in, taking really long showers, etc. I really miss my dogs above everything else honestly. 

And finally some embarrassing/interesting experiences:

1. The very first day that we were allowed to leave the school campus for lunch, me and some other "Toulousers" trekked to a nice crêpe restaurant called "Le Bol Bu" (photo below).The restaurant was a good 7 minute walk away from the school campus and we had two hours for lunch. We took a good while to find the restaurant so by the time we arrived we'd already used 40 min of our two hours but we had our orders in as soon as we arrived at the restaurant. It was a very cute place I must say, but it took FOREVER. We had to ask for them to-go when we had 20 min left before we had to be back at school. If you don't know, asking for food to-go isn't really a thing in France, so we felt pretty awkwardly American. We briskly walked back to the school; when we were pretty close to the school, one "Toulouser" realized she had left her jacket at the restaurant so she ran back and said she'd meet us at the school. So the rest of us walk back to school, and by this time I've already called Mathilde telling her we'd be a little late, and she said it was no big deal. But we found a new entrance to the school that looked identical to the usual one except it was locked and shut (the usual entrance everyone uses is always wide open). So basically I call Kyle and he's as confused as we are, and then I call Becca and she tries to direct us back to the usual entrance but we get lost. In the end she ran out to find us and we ran back (and I mean ran, this chick is a literal cross-country coach) and made it just in time for our city tour with Eric. 


2. One day, my mom and I went to visit with her friend Isabelle. At Isabelle's house (who by the way is a wonderful woman she's pictured with me below). I broke a dish while trying to lay on her outdoor couch, spilled my Coca Cola all over the table during dinner, found a snail in my backpack (because my backpack was outside on the ground), and when we left, I forgot to grab my charger and converter. To say the least, I wasn't my sharpest self. 


3. One day I went to my favorite shop to buy macarons (Au Poussin Bleu photo below) and after I bought them I went outside, sat down, and ate them. But what I failed to notice was that I was sitting on the furniture for the next-door bar/restaurant. So the waiter thought I was ready to be waited on. So he walks up and says something to me in French (I don't know what it was because it was very fast) but it was probably something like "Hey, how's it going can I get you started with something to drink?" I thought he was asking for money so I just said "Oh, non merci." He was a bit confused but he left. Later, he came back and i assume he asked me if I was ready to order my meal but again he said it in really fast French so I couldn't understand him. And this time I said "J'ai dit déjà! Non merci!" Which means "I already said no thank you!!" This time he threw his hands in the air and left. To be fair he wasn't in a uniform, holding a pen and paper or anything like that. Also I was facing away from the restaurant so I didn't see where he came from or where he went after talking to me. But after I finished eating my macarons I realized what had happened, I was wildly embarrassed and felt really bad because I was really rude. I tried to go in and explain and apologize but he didn't want to speak to me. 


4. So my commute to school in total was right around 30 minutes with the metro, but the metro line I used closed on July 17 for construction. So this meant I had to start using the bus. It was a little bit more complicated but not too terrible. I memorized that I would take bus 12 in the morning to school and bus 14 in the afternoon to my house. But on my second day using the bus, after school, I got on 140 accidentally because I didn't see the zero. It was hidden by another bus. 140 went the complete opposite way that I needed to go and i didn't realize this until I was at the end of the opposite direction. Now I know I sound wildly oblivious and stupid, but you must remember I've never used public transportation alone until this trip and also it was my second day via bus so I wasn't familiar with the sights I should be passing or the names of the stops the bus should take. Anyway I called my mom when I was at the opposite end and she said it wasn't a big deal. I got on the right bus and had to go ALL the way to the end of the opposite direction and the entire ride back home was an hour and 40 minutes.

5. One time I was shopping after school with some other "Toulousers" (keep in mind there were lots of people around us) and we went into a LUSH store (which is like body and skin products). I was standing and looking around and an employee tapped my shoulder and told me my dress was stuck on my backpack. I turned so red because this a big struggle for me: dresses and backpacks. Sometimes the backpack will catch the back of my dress and the dress will stay raised because it's between my body and my backpack (and it's really hard to tell when this is happening without feeling my lower back every few minutes with my hand to check if everything's fine). Anyway this means that my entire butt was completely exposed for lord knows how long and I didn't even know it.

6. One time I was coming back from school via metro (because it was still open then) and an elderly lady got really really mad at me. It was rush hour so there were a lot of people on this metro. I walked in with my backpack on my back and I don't remember bumping into anyone or feeling anyone bump into me but after the train takes off I feel this tug on my backpack handle. I turn around and see this little elderly woman sitting down and she starts yelling at me very incessantly.  I had no idea what I had done but I just kept saying "Je suis vraiment désolé" which means I'm really sorry, but she wasn't satisfied. I felt really awkward. She got off on the next stop and when the doors closed after her I whispered to myself "Elle est folle" which means she's crazy; I didn't think anyone could hear me, but several people did and got a big kick out of it.


7. This is the story where I saw someone get hit by a car. I was with my favorite "Toulouser" sitting and eating ice cream at the capitol (the giant square/shopping plaza in front of the Toulouse town hall) after school one day. She was sitting across from me facing the store and I was facing the street. This area is full of pedestrians so not a lot of cars come through here. So there was a teenage boy on a bike (I would say he was 18 or so) delivering food for uber eats. He was just biking along and this car was trying to back up (I don't really know why) and both of them saw each other. I guess they just thought the timing would be different, but the car hit him. He was fine though the car probably wasn't going over 5 MPH I would say, but everyone freaked out. The kid wasn't super mad, and the driver seemed very apologetic. The kid just picked up his bike, adjusted his backpack (which had the food in it) and pedaled away. I just hope he wasn't delivering cupcakes. 

8. And now for my favorite story. My family and I were at our neighbor's house. They have a 14-year-old girl who likes to play volleyball (as do I), and a 11-year-old boy who likes to draw. The parents were very sweet and so were their children. It was a fun night: we had dinner outside, had a volleyball match with their net, and after dinner the children showed me their bedrooms. As we were walking back outside where the parents were eating dinner, I walked right into the glass door really hard. To be fair, it was very dark, and so I was watching my feet to make sure I didn't trip. If I had looked up I'm sure I would've noticed it. Also, in order to get to the backyard you had to walk through two thresholds which used sliding glass doors and the first one was not shut. So before I slammed into the second glass door which was slid shut I had passed through one that was slid open (hopefully you can imagine this). Anyway, when I got to the table we were all laughing (parents too) and I actually started crying because I was laughing so hard. I explained in French how I've seen that scenario happen in movie, but I never thought it happened in real life. To say the least I'm pretty clumsy.

So there you have it. If you made it to the end I'm really impressed. Thanks for reading! 


Au revoir! 

Caroline Heater

Cooking Workshop - C'est Parti !

This week the students were separated in two groups for two different sessions of a cooking workshop! On Monday and Thursday, students traveled long and far (40 minutes via le bus) to learn some traditional French pastry recipes. We made clafoutis, as well as some crepes, bien sûr...

Clafoutis is a simple and traditional cake made with cerises, or cherries, which are layered in the bottom of a cake pan and then the batter, made up of flour, eggs, milk, and sugar, is poured on top. It is then baked for about 30 minutes, until it rises and the dough is cooked through. It is simple, easy, and delicieux.. I highly recommend it! All of your children have been emailed the recipe we used.. so I would demander that they cook it for you when they return stateside.. desolée mes choux, I blew up your spot. 

If you cannot wait until your petits return, check out the recipe here! Don't worry, I found one in English with American measurements for you all.. :)

Speaking of French foods.. while we were all patiently awaiting the final version of our clafoutis, the students participated in a blind food taste test. Students closed their eyes as they tried and guessed 5 sucrés (sweet) and 3 salés (savory) French goodies. They ranged from olive tapenade, to crème de marrons (hazelnut cream), nutella, and French moutarde (mustard.) They were great sports about it.. but we weren't too mean about it, I mean we could have bought a jar of French sardines or something for them to try!

Check out some pictures from our adventures... à la prochaine! 

-PL Bridgette 



Direction: Cité de l’Espace

Coucou! Today has been out of this world, literally!

Right after the end of class, the best program leaders in the world met the students at the Institut Catholique de Toulouse and then we blasted off to our first destination.

Together, all 43 of us walked to the Carmes métro stop where we hopped on the train and rode down one stop then switched to the bus. After a 20 or so minute bus ride, we arrived at our first destination: le parc.

At the park, students were given free time to enjoy their pique-nique lunches and burn off some of that energy. Looking at the playground, we were not sure what kind of intergalactic fun was awaiting us. But, we were all pleasantly surprised.. Especially with the flying see-saw.. Oh, yes, I said it. A flying see-saw. Even your PL’s got a chance to get in on the fun!

Check out the video!!



Feel free to check out some snapshots from the park.






After almost 2 hours of swinging (and falling off the see-saw), climbing, laughing and hanging out, it was then time to walk down to the Cité de l'Espace, just a 5 minutes  from the park.

To start off our day at the Cité de l’Espace, students were broken up into their classes and selected a partner.


Students were then given a scavenger hunt that would guide them through all 4 levels of the museum and a few outside areas. Students were asked questions in French and had to search through the exhibits to find all of the solutions. Students were also asked to film themselves doing tasks such as presenting the weather in French and also doing a “moon jump.”

The winners of the scavenger hunt were:
Niveau 3: Sebastian and Melody
Niveau 2: Isabelle, Candy and Lola
Niveau 1: Foressia and Christine
Niveau 0: Zoe and Wendy.

Félicitations à vous!

Here's a picture of an actual moon rock! It was pretty neat to see it in real life, even if it was in a display case.




Once the winners were crowned and awarded their prizes, it was time for our visite guidée. Because our group was so large, we broke everyone up into 2 groups for the tour. My group had an awesome tour guide named Roxanne. She was very knowledgeable when it came to the solar system and space, in general.

Here are some of the highlights from the tour:



Did you know that it only takes a total of 9 minutes to reach space from planet Earth? On this 9 minute trip, Roxanne shared with us that 3-5 G’s will be experienced while being thrusted out of the Earth’s atmosphere.

One thing that we found extremely interesting while listening to our guide was the fact that if you are on the International Space Station, every 45 minutes you will see the sun rise and then 45 minutes later you will see the sun set. That means you’ll see a total of 16 sunrises and 16 sunsets in a 24 hour period. SO COOL!

We also learned about some of the strict requirements one must meet in order to be an astronaut candidate. One major factor was height. Taking a look at Sofia and Zoe in the space shuttle seat, would you be comfortable riding in this for an incredible 9 minute ride to outer space?

Students were given several different examples of how astronauts live in space..

Ever wonder what it would be like to experience zero gravity? Well, our students were given a chance to see what that would be like by using an astronauts glove and a vacuum type device. Using these two things,  they had to try to pick up a red ball. It was interesting to hear  their comments on how difficult this task was.



Another group of students were given a towel that they had to expand by either putting it some water or mouth, while other students had a chance to sample hot chocolate that the astronauts drink. Check our Lola sampling the hot chocolate.


Stellar would probably be the best way to describe how our day went.

Can’t end the blog without giving a shout-out to Elias — Way to be an active participant and answering all of those questions! Bravo!


Gotta blast! 


C'est Parti! A Carcassonne nous allons!


An aerial view of the city 

Carcassonne XI

Here we come a wassailing among the leaves so green! Here we come a wandering, so fair to be seen! 

This weekend, the students and their program leaders...and Eric (it wouldn't be Carcassonne without Eric!) hopped on a magic school bus back to the Moyen  Âge!  About an hour further south of Toulouse, sits a fortified medieval city atop a hill called Carcassonne. It's the largest city in Europe with all of its walls still intact and sits within the modern city of Carcassonne just below the hill and across the river. Though a small handful of folks live in the historic city center, or the cité médiévale, it mostly functions now as a sort of open-air museum. Carcassonne, in all its archaic magic, is layered with the histories of people and tribes that came and went and left their stories like fossils embedded in stones, clay brick, and stained glass windows.  

Carcassonne IV

Entrance to the city at Porte Narbonnaise 

Carcassonne V Carcassonne I

Historian Eric explaining that the mote didn't contain any water as it was conserved for cooking and bathing

Carcassonne X

Carcassonne IX

Carcassonne XIV

Château Comtal, a well-preserved castle within the cité médiévale. Restored in 1853 by architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, it's been added to the UNESCO  list of World Heritage Sites. 

After finishing their visite guidée with our dear friend Eric, the students had a bit of free time to flâner un peu (one of the many untranslatable French expressions that conveys the experience of wandering aimlessly simply for the joy of soaking up the beauty of a city) and explore the city on their own. When they were done flânering, they met back up with Eric at the Apse of Basilique St-Nazaire, the church inside the city. 

Carcassonne XV

The church, as all European churches are, is constructed in the shape of the human body to symbolize the body of Jesus Christ. Like the rest of the city, the  church is constructed in both Roman and Gothic style, its arched glass windows characteristic of gothic architecture and the round doors built more in Roman style. 

Eric explained to us that the etymology of the word "catholic" comes from "universal". When the Cathares, a religious group that emerged in Europe in the eleventh century,  built the church, they purposely added this series of faces at the top above the windows to depict God's people around the world. This was meant to convey that all people were welcome in the church and God's kingdom. Without geography or the awareness of what other people might look like around the world, they used their imaginations to conjure up some examples. Some of these faces are slightly terrifying...some have enormous dumbo-like ears or bulging eyes. One of them even has a nose like the beak of a crow. This was meant to be inviting! The idea was this: if you have dumbo ears or enormous bug eyes--yes, even a crow beak for a nose--you were welcome in the church. 

Carcassonne XVII

Lily, Isabel, Keaton, Sharleen, and Grace learn about the evolution of stained glass window fabrication during the middle ages! 

Carcassonne XIX

Carcassonne XVIII

Medieval Selfie!

This nifty little hunk of stone, or medieval selfie as Eric called it, is a depiction of a siege on Carcassonne. That long line down the middle represents the ramparts of the city. Those figures to the left of it are soldiers trying to infiltrate the city's walls and everything to the right are the people of Carcassonne. This portion of the scene was found in a river and now rests on a wall near the choir of Basilique St-Nazaire. 


Carcassonne XVI

Benjamin probably writing poetry in his head while he admires the church

Louis 14

Sam, or Louis XIV as Eric called him, bought a grape vine to plant in his host family's garden! 


PL Becca bein' a cutie in front of some quintessential French champs de tournesol (sunflower fields)!


Catch ya on the flip side!