EngagePerspectivesSummer in the “Garden of France”
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Summer in the “Garden of France”

Tours, a city with a rich tapestry of history and natural beauty, invites visitors with its enchanting modern vibrancy blended with its old traditional charm. The abundance of chateaus, gardens, and vineyards is why it is referred to as the“Garden of France”. This past summer I discovered the essence of getting lost in this garden full of picturesque landscapes.

Tours, the Garden of France
Tours, the Garden of France (photo by Jaymaba Ndiaye)
Hospitality and Dialogue: Challenging Preconceptions

As I embarked on my journey to Tours, I was unsure of what to expect as I had only ever heard the conventional explanations of France, but I wanted to confirm for myself. What I didn’t expect was the immense hospitality from my host mother, people gathering for hours on end for lunch, or the rich culture of music. I was pleasantly surprised by the locals’ willingness to have patience with me as I would stumble to construct a sentence in French or mispronounce words. I later realized that many of them were delighted that others were learning their language.

Through these interactions, I saw beyond my preconceived beliefs of dialogue into a more complicated truth. I often assumed that having a language barrier would be a defining factor for engaging in valuable dialogue, however my trip to Tours, France challenged this notion completely. I was able to engage in riveting conversations with the locals and peers from all across the world, although it was difficult at times I found that having patience really sets the tone for dialogue across difference in this instance.

“Go Touch the Walls”

“Go touch the walls”, this was my trip coordinator’s favorite expression throught our journey in Tours. Each time she would say it during our multiple meetings we all would chuckle. In hindsight I understood what she meant as she didn’t want us to just fixate on our exams or courses for the entire duration of the trip, but in the beginning I thought there wasn’t much to do and I surely was proven wrong. Halfway through the trip I began visiting more gardens and museums by myself and just exploring. This aided in me constantly challenging my French skills as well as gaining a deeper appreciation for my opportunity to experience being abroad.

The second to last day is when I truly embodied this phrase which was at the popular Fête de la Musique, a celebration that takes place all across France showcasing such rich music talent. On this day, I completely let go of any fear or worries of having an awkward interaction or not understanding something, I simply embraced being a local singing and dancing alongside strangers. This is one of the most memorable moments of my time abroad that I will forever cherish.

I am beyond grateful to have participated in a dialogue based class and fully immerse myself within a different culture. This experience is a pivotal moment in my academic journey and I hope to ultize what I learned to forever get lost in the many gardens of the world and force myself to touch the walls.

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