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I have been able to progress in my language abilities and gain boatloads of confidence speaking during my time in Grenoble. I have never learned so much French as I have during my study abroad, without these programs I would not have been able to attain the immersion experience that is so critical to learning a language. Also, I have been able to try the French cuisine: I’ve enjoyed crepes, ice cream, croissants, and even pig foot. Learning the cuisine here was a way for me to grow closer to my host family and practice asking questions while learning new vocabulary (and trying some delicious foods!! Not the pig foot though). Lastly, museums are one of my favorite ways to learn about a city or see the culture. My favorite museum was a museum detailing the resistance to the Nazi forces in Grenoble during WWII.
Catcalling. It’s real, it happens, and it’s just as uncomfortable as one can imagine. During my first program in Grenoble, I rarely regarded my identity as a woman in a negative way, but this summer I experienced a more negative side. I knew before I went to France that men in Europe are typically more vocal and forward, so I wasn’t surprised when I experienced catcalling. However, I was surprised with how uneasy and upset it made me feel. At first, I was angry that men would make me feel unsafe and wary in a city that I loved. I didn’t like that I needed to be careful with how I acted, what I wore, and where I went in certain parts of the city. There were moments when I was frustrated that I couldn’t identify as a woman in the way I wanted to.
In college, if my intelligence is questioned because of my gender identity, I have a community of supportive women (and men!) whom I can turn to when I experience conflict. So, in France, I sought that type of support from the other members in my program. Together, we navigated the uncomfortable treatment and created solutions to mitigate the effects. For example, we learned which streets were the most agreeable to take, the best things to say (or to not say) in uncomfortable situations, and the best way to dress while still feeling like ourselves. It was hard to adjust at times, but having that community of girls to vent and roll your eyes with allowed me to maintain confidence in my identity and also encourage and support others.