I just arrived in Bordeaux a few hours ago, and I could not be happier to start this adventure! I will be writing this blog to document my experiences here in Bordeaux as a student in the UCEAP University of Bordeaux – Coursework in French program for the fall semester.  Even though I am a biology major at my home campus of UCLA, I will be taking courses which focus on French history, language, and culture while I am in Bordeaux.  Because I am also minoring in French, my biggest goal while studying abroad is to attain fluency in French!  I know there is only one way to get there, and that will be by completely immersing myself into the Bordelaise culture and getting to know as many French people as possible!  I hope you will enjoy the stories I will have to share.

I thought I might start off by explaining the three primary reasons why I chose to study abroad in Bordeaux.

  1. Chance to live with a host family!

I’ve been studying French since I was fourteen years old, and when I was fifteen, my family hosted a French exchange student.  Sharing my local culture in Northern California with someone else my age was an incredible experience, and from that point on, I dreamed of going abroad and learning French culture from within a host family.  That experience is exactly what the UCEAP University of Bordeaux program offered.

I have just met my host family a few hours ago, and I can already tell that we will get on very well!  Joëlle and Anaïs are the two women in charge of the Centre d’Etudes de l’Université de Californie (University of California Study Center) here in Bordeaux, and they carefully organized all of the homestays for the California students who requested to live with a host family.  This was based on a detailed questionnaire we completed a few months prior to the start of the program.

  1. Variety of courses available!

Not only do I have the opportunity to live with a French host family in Bordeaux, but I also have the chance to take courses at five different university campuses in the city.  This possible due to the relationship between the UC system and the University of Bordeaux.  Because I plan to take courses focused in the humanities, I will likely be taking all of my classes at the Université de Bordeaux Montaigne campus (we have yet to enroll in classes, as that will take place once school starts in about two and a half weeks).  However, as I previously mentioned, I am a biology major, so something that is really nice about studying here is that I still have the option to take a class or two at the Collège Sciences de la santé (Biology Department) if I decide I’d like to.  So, Bordeaux is a great option for north and south campus majors alike!

3. A new city!

I have been to France three times prior to coming to Bordeaux, and each time I stayed in Paris and the Lyon region.  As I mentioned, fluency in French is an ultimate goal of mine, so I designed a study program for myself which would last six months in total.  I have been in Europe since mid-June, as I participated in the UCLA Travel Study Program in Paris this summer.  Living and taking courses in Paris was a wonderful way to get acquainted with French culture, but when I was planning my time abroad, I thought it would be great to spend some of my time in a completely new place.  Because the other UCEAP programs in France are located in Paris and Lyon, Bordeaux was a perfect option since I have never formerly been here.

So, here I am, and I cannot wait to discover all Bordeaux has to offer!

Natasha Szombathy studied abroad in Bordeaux, France in 2017: