Center for International Programs, Modern Languages & Classics, School of Liberal Arts

In America, taboo subjects are rarely discussed at the dinner table, but in at least one household in France, “The hour of debate” is a nightly event

Simon Miesel '23 was caught off-guard when he met his host family for the first time and they immediately started asking controversial questions. The initial awkwardness is gone and debate is now a part of his normal, everyday life. Nightly at the dinner table, Simon and his family debate, argue, finish their meals, and move on. The topics aren't all related to France, but the arguments are always in French.

“My uncle was a French teacher who lovingly bullied me into taking French. The more I learned, the more I fell in love with it, and now eight years later, I'm here”

As a French major, Simon knows the language well, but living in France, it has become his sole form of communication. Different than other study abroad experiences, Simon speaks exclusively in French, which he believes enhances the cultural immersion.

“The advantage of studying abroad is that it is simple, classes are short, asynchronous, and there is essentially no homework. But this means you can just go to Paris for the day and experience the culture and that's how you learn through experience.”

Simon's been able to travel all around the country, meet new people, discover hidden locations, and even hunt the best pastries. While traveling to a 16th-century naval fort, Simon believes he found it. He says the  kouign-amann is a to-die-for dessert that everyone should try. Of course, there may have been some debate about that when he got back to his host family.