I never thought I would miss refillable drinks with ice in them until I went to France. Now that I am back in the Unites States there are so many things which I took for granted. I was so ecstatic last Friday night when I landed in Atlanta at the thought of having Waffle House at midnight. There are so many things which are different in America and in France. For example, good luck finding and open store or restaurant after ten. There are a few restaurants that are open but they are mostly tapas or bars. In addition, if you like cold drinks with ice France is not for you. However, those are the only things I did not enjoy in my trip. Everything else about my twenty-one day stay in Toulouse was amazing.
Although days were long they were just as equally rewarding in terms of knowledge. The trip was well planned for the students that were going in the trip. The faculty at ENSAT as well as the professors at UGA did a great job at looking at everyone’s background and ensuring there was a day for everyone.
The second week was drastically different from the first. We did not go to ENSAT at all because all our trips were either too far, it was a holiday or it was at a different university. Monday was a national holiday so we decided to go to Carcassonne which is a city about an hour away from Toulouse. The city is well known for having a castle and overall it was an amazing experience to take in French Culture. Another interesting day was when we went to Roquefort. Roquefort is both the name of a cheese and the town where it is produced. This cheese is special because it has to be made in limestone caves since it is injected with bacteria. The caves hold the perfect conditions for the bacteria to grow and give the cheese its distinct aroma. The cheese tastes like a strong blue cheese but I myself did not enjoy it. Another fun experience this week was going to an olive farm and a winery on the same day. We were able to try various products made from olives as well as learn how olives are produced in France. The winery we toured was sort of a micro-winery where they experimented and made different wines. This experience was also interesting to see because they did everything at the farm so we got to see all the machinery that is used in the process. Our third week was highlighted by going to Swine farm one day and dairy farm the next. The swine was fully vertically integrated which was interesting to see a feed mill on sight. We learned about the industry in the morning and the problems farmers encounter. After touring the farm, we toured their processing plant where they can process over sixty hogs a week. They made various products ranging from cured ham to specialty sausages. At the dairy farm, we toured their farm and then sampled some of the products they produced such as goat cheese, ice cream and specialty cheeses.
My time in France was also filled with amazing times outside of class such as dinner with friends regardless of the location. We could’ve been eating kebabs in an alley or at a rooftop restaurant the result was the same either way we always had fun. In addition, our weekend trips were memorable whether we went to Albi to go tour the world’s largest brick cathedral, Barcelona to go eat paella, or Lourdes to visit one of the holiest place on earth.