Rotary opening doors to CF grads: 2016 grad reflects on French experience

Nearly a year ago, Allie Taiber was embarking on a year long trip. After graduating her junior year, Allie spent a lot of time in France with host families and attending school, but she also got the opportunity to see and travel through Europe. Taiber returns to America July 16 to work and continue her education.

Taiber’s day to day routine in France is truly unique. In her own words, “I think what’s made this year so extraordinary is that I don’t have a ‘typical day’ or any sort of routine.”

Taiber touched on the fear of not knowing what to expect, but she explained how that’s truly the best part of traveling abroad. Her day to day is never truly set in stone, but Taiber gave up the basics.

“I wake up around 6:45 a.m., get myself ready, sit down with my host parents to eat whatever fruit is on the table, a tartine spread with homemade jam and drink my cup of coffee with one cube of sugar inside. I then descend from our little centre-ville apartment to walk the seven minute trek of 172 stairs to school. The school day starts at 8 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m. My classes change day to day, but within the week there’s a good mix of philosophy, literature, French, history, geography, English, European studies and sport. When we have free time we all sit around this one room called ‘le foyer’ with tables, chairs and a television that blares France’s top 40 hits, and we play cards, talk about life, love and the meaning of, and every now and again someone opens a text book. When my classes are over, I either stay in the city or head home. We eat dinner around 9 p.m., sit around the table for an hour or two, watch the news, discuss and head of to bed.”

Taiber’s knowledge gained can’t be tested over or explained. Immersing one’s self in a completely different culture is the pinnacle of learning what it truly means to live.

Taiber agreed that she’s learned a lot about France and the culture that surrounds her. When pressed on the biggest thing she’s learned, Taiber’s answer is inspiring.  “Perhaps finding and living as my authentic self while being in completely foreign settings That’s the biggest thing anyone can learn.” Taiber described her learning as growing. The lessons she’s learned and the challenges she’s faced have resulted in her growth as a human being.

Taiber encouraged anyone who has the chance to study abroad. She said she feels that people’s biggest fear is that they’ll miss people and places in the United States, and she did miss some things, including “Indian food, but I’ve found that I don’t really ‘miss’ too many things. It’s more of a growth in gratitude or appreciation for all that I have in my life, so I think when I’m back in the U.S. I’ll be crying tears of joy for all that I’ve fallen in love with on this side of the earth — the people, the places, all of which made this year of my life a dream.”

Taiber also gave advice to those considering taking on the same adventure she did. “If you truly want something, you’ll make it happen. The most nerve racking part is taking off, but once you’re gone, you’ll be so completely lost in your new found life that you’ll never want to come back, but if that isn’t enough, find me and we’ll talk.”

Taiber plans on enrolling in the University of Iowa this fall.

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