Say Cheese!

Can you really say you’ve lived in France if you don’t know a thing or two about their famous fromage?

While there is a lot to know about French cheese, and I am not claiming to be a connaisseuse du fromage, I have learned some things about their delicious cheese.


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Brie is probably one of the best-known French cheeses. Brie comes from the Île-de-France region of France (Paris resides in this region).


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Camembert is another well-known French cheese. Camembert comes from the Normandie region of France.


Image result for emmental cheese pretty Emmental cheese is actually a Swiss cheese, but Emmental-Savoie is its French counterpart, it is traditionally served on a baguette with ham. Emmental-Savoie comes from the Haute-Savoie region of France, which is right next to Switzerland.


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Muenster is another delicious French cheese, it comes from the Alsace region of France. Alsace is the German region of France, for it’s right next to Germany.

Saint Marcellin

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Saint Marcellin is a cheese that comes from the Dauphine region of France, it is in south-east France. It is my personal favorite, my favorite restaurant would serve it on a burger, it is absolutely delicious.

There are many many more French cheeses, all of which I am sure are delicious, but here is just a *taste* of french gastronomical culture. To find out what other delicious cheeses France has to offer, you’ll just have to make the voyage yourself!

The French Presidency

During my stay in France, I witnessed the most recent presidential election. The new president of France is Emmanuel Macron, he assumed office on May 14th of this year.

Before I talk about the current president, I will talk about the valeurs or values of France. France is a country that believes in:
-democracy (liberty and equality for all)
-indivisibility ( same laws on all territories)
-secularity (religious liberty for all religions)
-social welfare (social protection and aid for all)

While in France, I noticed the French believe strongly in these values and demonstrate their belief in these values often. While in Paris I saw many protests take place ( I did not partake in these protests), and as the election dates came closer and closer the protests became bigger and bigger and happened more and more often. They are democratic people and fight for their right for liberty and equality.

Emmanuel Macron is apart of the mouvement “en marche”  and is a centralist, he neither swings to the right or the left. During the elections, his propositions were (these are just 3 among many others):
– create universal unemployment insurance
– Diminish the amount of imports businesses make
– Improve the overall situation for women

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His major opponent was Marine Le Pen. She was an ultra-conservative and a member of the extreme right. She was the head of the Front National party. During the election, 3 of her (many) propositions were to:
– Make a referendum to have France leave the EU
– Limit the immigration rates in France
– Reduce the legal age of retirement from 62 to 60 years old.

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While it is typically not police to ask someone about their own political views, it was very interesting to see people protesting throughout the elections.

Les symboles de la Republique Francaise

Les symboles de la République française translates to the symbols of France. During a course I took this semester, we spent some time talking about the true symbols of France. No, their symbols do not include the Eiffel Tower, or the Louvre museum. The symbols of France are:

1. The flag
2. Marianne
3. The national motto
4. La Marseillaise- The French national anthem

The Flag
– The flag comes from the French Revolution. The blue and red represent the colors of France and the white represents the monarchy.

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– She is a symbol of the people. She is a symbol of the republic, one of liberty and reason. She can be found on official papers, on stamps, and on French euro coins.

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The National Motto
– The national motto of France is liberty, equality, and fraternity. The motto comes from the declaration of the rights of man.  It is found on the front of all official buildings.

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La Marseillaise
– The national anthem comes from a war chant created by French soldiers of Marseille to defend the revolution. The anthem was composed by Rouget de Lisle on April 25, 1792. Like the American national anthem, it is played at all major events and holidays.

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It’s important to know the symbols of a country because they are the visual representations a country uses to represent their people, values, and history. They can also make you think about what symbols you use to represent yourself as an individual, what message you are projecting to the world.

Beyond France

While abroad I had the opportunity to see more of the beautiful places Europe has to offer, during my first vacation I visited (in addition to Paris, of course) London, England and Venice, Italy.

London very much reminded me of home (Boston, MA), which only makes sense considering the city was founded by the English. London had a very beautiful, classic feel. The streets were wide and old, the people were warm and friendly, the  monuments and buildings were well-preserved and beautiful.

After visiting London, our next stop was Venice. Venice was unbelievably beautiful, a gorgeous old-world city. We were lucky enough to have had our stay in Venice be during Carnivale. Carniavle is an ancient Venetian tradition celebrated for 40 days during the Lenten season.


Venice was one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen, it is easy to see how its beauty inspired many famous works, for example Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and Othello. 

Beyond the Beauty

Living in France has been one of the most amazing experiences I ever could have dreamed of. The land is gorgeous, the food is delicious, the culture is lively, I’ve seen so much and made so many memories here that could last for eight lifetimes. Before I came to France, “honeymoon phase” was a phrase I heard very often from my study abroad peers and advisors. The same meaning that applies to the honeymoon phase in relationships applies to living abroad as well, meaning, after some time the initial glitz and glamour or that “new car smell” starts to fade away and reality sinks in. Living here for five months has given me a lot of time to think about this.

Upon arrival, everywhere I turned seemed to be more beautiful than the last.


Come on.

It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the sometimes overwhelming feeling of “new”, and it’s okay to, in my opinion, you should. It’s like that feeling when you begin a new relationship and you’re ready to say “I love you” after 2 weeks together, it isn’t true love but it sure feels like it. The important part about this stage is you’re allowing yourself to fall in love, you don’t have any inhibitions, you just let things happen. Living somewhere new should be the same thing, let yourself fall in love with the scenery, the people, the food, the culture, take it all in.

Once the “shiny, new feeling” wears away, you start to see everything as it truly is. You start to appreciate the small things that the city has to offer, those are the things that become truly beautiful to you. For me, in Lyon, it’s the small boulangerie that’s on the corner down the street from me that bakes my favorite bread in all of France, or the way the fencing seems to (unintentionally) match the vines,…

… or the way a completely raw photo can still take your breath away.

Once you discover what’s underneath the face value, and understand how near and dear that is and how closely you hold that to your heart, that’s when you know it’s love.

This idea tends to have a negative connotation, but sometimes the smell that comes after the new car smell can be a very beautiful thing, it starts to smell like home.


When I first came to France I thought my time here would never run out, it’s crazy to think that not too long from now I’ll be back in the US living through this unbelievable experience only in my memory.

Something that I really feel strongly about is investing in something that is going to remind you of the amazing memories you’ve made on this journey. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive, but it should be something that’s personal to you. Before coming here my dad gave me a personalized journal for Christmas and all he asked was that I fill it full of memories. I decided to buy postcards and little mementos from each location I go to and paste it in the journal.

Another awesome idea I heard is from fellow correspondent Meaghan Gallagher, she is going to make her own jean jacket and cover it in patches from every city she visits and sew it on the jacket. It’s her own unique jacket and no one will ever have the same exact one, it’s her own cool souvenir.

(Photo: thecityslickerblog)

Whether you want to buy a cookbook from everywhere you go or fill a bottle with dirt, it’s up to you, but it’s so important to do something. You will never regret it.

Day to Day

Taking on the title of “Global Ambassador” while abroad has been an awesome experience, I get to document my study abroad experiences and share them with all of you. While a large part of study abroad is traveling, hence the “abroad” piece, you can’t forget about the “study” piece of it as well (unfortunately).

In Lyon, I am enrolled at L’université Lumière-Lyon-II where I have been studying french (sounds quite posh, no?).
 (Photo: Ellen Wallinger)

Here I have been studying intensive (seriously) french and getting a true sense of the French university system. There are some major differences between french public universities and american public universities, for example: in the US, you technically only take on average 5 classes that meet 2x per week, which results in about 10 periods of class time per week. In France, you take on average 10 classes, but those classes only meet 1x per week so it comes out to about the same amount of meeting times. Another major difference is the length of the class time, classes in USA are on average 60 minutes long, in France, they are on average about 105 minutes long. It seems long but classes tend to go by quite fast, professors here really utilize that time the best way they can. Classes are very interactive and require a lot of input from students, I enjoy them very much and they do not feel like they are 105 minutes long.

This university is a popular one for study abroad students across the globe, I have met many other international students here. I have class and have made friends with students from Colombia, Vietnam, Albania, South Korea, Zimbabwe, etc.

The awesome thing about this university is there is a true sense of community here, I have met some of the friendliest people at school and have made real lasting connections.

Even though the studying part isn’t always the best, USAC’s program in Lyon has really made it such an enjoyable experience. UL2 is a beautiful school in the heart of Lyon, the students and staff are all super friendly, the classes are interesting and you learn so much french. Getting up and going to school everyday has become a part of my day I truly enjoy.