October 22, 2013 | Matt Kucinski

Henry Higby
Hometown: Towaco, N.J.
Year: Senior
Major: Interdisciplinary (biology, psychology, chemistry)

Where are you?

I am in Grenoble, which is located in the south of France near the Alps.

What are you doing?

I am taking part in Calvin's semester abroad program in France. I am here to learn about French culture and improve my French at the Centre Universitaire de l'Éducation Français (CUEF).

What's your typical day like?

On a typical school day, I have breakfast with my host mother, then I get ready for the day and head to school.  Usually I take the tram that is right next to my house, but if it is a particularly nice day I will ride my bike to class.  At the CUEF I have two hours of language class in the morning, then either history, economics, literature, or vocabulary (depending on the day) in French in the afternoon. After classes I play soccer and attend a French Bible study. At night I have dinner with my host mother. On a typical weekend day, I hangout with friends. We attend events around town or in the area (museums, festivals, castles, parks, etc.).

What (technically) are you doing?

I am working towards mastering a B2 niveau (level) in the French language and eventually receiving a DELF B2 certification, as well as immersing myself in French Culture.

What (in layperson's terms) are you doing?

I am trying to be French. :-)

How has Calvin prepared you for this?

By teaching me to be observant and discerning of the things that I come across on a daily basis. Calvin has taught me to respectfully disagree and wholeheartedly agree.

What has surprised you so far?

I had the impression that the French were liberal and somewhat fanatic, but they are actually fairly conservative, especially when it comes to tradition and family.

How do you see this shaping your future?

It’s expanding my career options (i.e. the places I can work, the types of positions I can fill, the people I can reach, etc.). I also see this giving me a different perspective on life and of the world.

Best picture you’ve taken?

The best pictures I have taken here have been pictures in the mountains surrounding Grenoble. Actually today I probably took my best picture. It was in the Belledonne mountains to the east of Grenoble. I was visiting my host mother's son's house and when the fog cleared, there was a small waterfall dividing two peaks that were capped with snow and covered with trees in full autumn colors. The water from the waterfall was running down the mountain and through the village I was in. It was picture perfect (no pun intended...).

What’s gone wrong?

One thing that I keep messing up is maintaining the French attitude towards strangers. You speak only when spoken to, never look at someone for more than 1.3 seconds, and show no emotion. Anything else is an invasion of privacy and is either rude or is a show of interest in someone. At this point I must be considered creepy. Okay it is not that serious, but it is still annoying. 

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