Guest review: Why Lisa chose French instead of yoga to emotionally recharge
While most of us may think that the best way to mentally unwind and emotionally recharge would be to head off on a yoga or meditation holiday, Lisa chose to study French in Lyon.
Not the obvious choice, you might think, but Lisa is a clever one. The chance to travel solo and escape to France’s gastronomic captial, Lyon, would help her acheive not one but two goals.
We caught up with Lisa on her return to find out why this French language holiday in France gave her some much needed headspace whilst boosting her confidence and language skills ten fold.
Why did you choose to learn French in Lyon?
There is a long and short answer to this question.
The short one being that for a long time I have wanted to be fluent in another language. My siblings live aboard and all speak another language fluently but not me. I studied French at school so it seemed like the obvious choice.
As for the long answer, well, I am in the process of going through a big personal life change and I have children. I just felt like I needed a break on my own. Just some time for myself so I could clear my head.
Who else was on the holiday?
I was actually the only English person at the whole school – the other students were from all over the world, Korea, China, Germany,Turkey, Italy. This was great because it meant I had to communicate in French which was brilliant.
The language classes were small groups. I found it much easier to speak to the other students as opposed to French people. I guess it was because we were all in the same boat so we were less worried about making mistakes and encouraged each other.
What was your typical day like?
I booked to do 15 lessons during the week and this worked really well for me as it meant I had afternoon free to explore Lyon.
After my language classes in the morning, I looked at map and decided where I would go that day. Fortunately, my host family lived near the Parc de la Tête d’Or, the largest park in Lyon, so I spent a lot of time there. I am a keen runner so I went running almost every day as well as explored the zoo, nature and animals there.
I walked everywhere in Lyon so I got to know the city really well. I loved Old Lyon and the great views you get from there. I had great weather when I was there.
How did you spend your evenings?
It was a good mix of quiet and busy.
On the quiet nights, I was tired and knew I had to be up early the next morning so I would have dinner with my host family and then go to my room to study or relax. My host was very understanding and knew I needed time and space to study.
One night, I went out to a cheese and wine tasting evening with other students. I was a bit anxious at first as I knew they were more advanced than me at French but everyone was so friendly and chatty. I understood a lot more than I thought and the cheese and wine were a bonus. I must admit I drank quite a bit of champagne that night.
Other nights, I went out for dinner with a German woman I met at the school and also with my host. With my host, we went to a famous restaurant in Lyon called ‘Daniel et Denise’. Apparently all the celebrities go there so my host was quite excited!
How did your French improve during your stay?
Oh, it improved enormously.
Before I went, I was anxious about speaking and had good intentions to study as much as possible before but in the end there was no time.
I needed have worried because by the end of the week, I was having conversations in shops with shop owners. I also initiated conversation with a dog walker in park! I just started with a simple, ‘your dog looks tired’, and he came over to chat. I can’t say I understood everything but I got the gist and it gave me lots of confidence.
The trip as a whole has really upped my enthusiasm and boosted my confidence. Since I have been back, I have studied every day. Things are really starting to click and my confidence keeps growing.
What did you think of your French language teachers?
They were fabulous and spoke French all the time. On the first morning, I realised that I had just been listening and conversing for 3 hours in French – and I got it!!
There was a perfect blend of humour but they also made sure we learnt a lot. The time flew and by the end of the week we were laughing a lot.
How was the home stay accommodation?
Absolutely brilliant – I had the best host for me. I emailed before I went to explain my personal situation and was placed with a host who had a similar personal situation to me so we really bonded. She was always around to help and very kind but gave space when I needed it.
There was another student staying there more long term than me, a 19 year old from Columbia. We had great rapport and chatted a lot. It was challenging at first as I am elementary level but the host spoke English so helped out on first day to calm my nerves. We switched to French after that though!
Will you be staying in touch with anyone you met during your travels?
Yes, I meet a lovely German woman there and we hung out a lot in Lyon and have stayed in touch ever since.
We write to each other almost every day in French. It’s been a great way to keep my French growing and we talk about real life things so it’s really useful too.
What advice would you give to other travellers?
Go for it! Expect to be nervous because you are going into the unknown so its normal to feel like this. But go with an open mind and be willing to have a good time and I assure you that you will.
It is up there as one of my favourite holidays. I came back refreshed. Just do it.
If you are feeling inspired, you can read more about Lisa’s French language holiday in Lyon here.