This study abroad program far exceeded my expectations. At first I was worried the lectures would be long, and that there wouldn’t be much time for excursions and activities. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that opposite was true. Nearly every day was jam packed with interesting and fun excursions planned for the students. From guided tours around the Abbey of Cluny, to vineyards in the Macconais, to Louis Pasteur’s house, I am amazed that we covered so much in so little time. Even when we had free time, there were still plenty of fun activities available to us no matter where we were. In our host city of Cluny, there was a biking trail, a public pool, shopping districts, many delicious restaurants, and much more. I experienced so many new and fascinating things in the short time we were abroad, which is something I highly value when traveling.
I learned more from this trip than I could have ever hoped in a two-week period. With help of Dr. Healey, I was able to learn a lot about the French culture, their language, and history. Since Dr. Healey is a historian, she was always able to point out historic monuments and discuss them in detail. She also taught us about the French approach to eating; how to order food at restaurants, navigate farmer’s markets, the best things to order, and so on. Her guidance made this trip a much greater learning experience.
In addition to this, I learned all about the science of cheese and wine production. As a microbiology major, I was particularly interested in this prior to the trip. We visited vineyards, wineries, farms, and cheese factories and learned all about the processes directly from experts in the field. Through the wine tastings we attended, we got hands-on experience in understanding the complexities of wine. We also tried a wide range of cheeses and learned all about their differences production, aging, and microorganisms. These things allowed me to better appreciate the culture and science of French foods.
None of this would have been possible without Dr. Haggblom and Dr. Healey’s expertise and guidance. So for that, I sincerely thank them. And for anyone who is considering this program for themselves, I truly cannot recommend it enough. This was an awesome, once-in-a-lifetime experience for me, and it is something I will never forget.