France, Uncategorized

LaSalle, France: Cooking for health (1)

We missed our flight to Charles de Gaulle airport when we were transferring in London, so we flew to Orly airport instead. My friend Cheryl lost her luggage. It was a bad start of the week.

On Tuesday (May 17th), our cooking for health program officially started. Week 1 was French class. We had 4-5 hours French each day.

On weekend, we went to Paris. I love millefeuille. I brought one from Pierre Herme and one from Sadaharu Aoki (a Japanese patisserie). Both of them were awesome.

I’m not a huge fan of macaron, but I have to admit they are good.


Week 2: we had cooking class!

We learned how to bake croissant and pain au chocolate. They were the best I’ve ever had. There were so fresh and crispy.

We cooked “Angry”, “Love”, “order”, and “joy”. 2 sweet dishes and 2 salty dishes.


The dining hall is based on a point system. The main dish worths about 8 points. The entree and sides are around 2-3 points. Basically, we can get a hot plate and 3 sides.

Friday visiting Ducasse was a blast. It was definitely the best day. We visited the chocolate shop and tasted some awesome chocolate. Tried some olive oil. a looot of meat. We even went to the restaurant at the top of Eiffel tower. It was so beautiful.


#ILLINOISabroad #ACESabroad

Europe, France, Purpan, Uncategorized

Weekend Adventures: EI Purpan, Toulouse, France

During this program, there are two weekend trips planned out for the first month while the participants are in school. The first weekend was spent in the Pyrenees mountains. It was absolutely incredible, even from inside of the bus while we drove to the top. Looking back on the photos, none of them actually do the beauty of the mountains justice; they also look completely edited. We arrived at our humble abode for the weekend and immediately had a picnic lunch before we left to begin our hike. It was a beautiful day, perfect for the long climb. By the time we reached the top, I had surprisingly only fallen down once. I’m unfortunately clumsy, so this was actually a big deal. It began to rain once we made it to the top, but the water was a perfect way to cool down. We were fortunate enough to get a great view of the tallest waterfall in Europe before we headed back down to the bus. That night we were served a traditional French meal with several courses, one of them obviously being cheese. Afterwards, we watched the Barcelona team at a local bar as they won the Championship game for the UEFA Champions League.


The Pyrenees

The next day, we left early in the morning so that we could make a stop in the famous city of Lourdes on our way back to Toulouse. It was a beautiful Cathedral, and being able to walk through the Grotto was very humbling. It is one of my favorite places that I’ve visited while being abroad.


The Grotto

The next weekend, we drove all the way to Barcelona. We arrived Friday night just in time for a delicious tapas dinner. Afterwards, the group went out to the nightclubs to experience Barcelona’s famous nightlife. It is nothing like that of the places in France that I’ve been in. The next day, everyone spent time in the sun and the sand, and walked all over the city. We had plenty of gelato and super sore feet by the end of the day. Finally on Sunday, we headed to La Sagrada Familia, walked past the Arc de Triomf, and wandered around the many parks before it was time to head back on the bus.


Arc de Triomf, Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia

The third weekend was free, so a small group of us headed to the beach town Arcachon, near Bordeaux, to relax in the sand. We ate more fresh seafood in one weekend than is normal, and probably spent too much money on macaroons; but it was a wonderful mini vacation from school.


Being able to travel all over with everyone on the program was a great way to make long lasting friendships. Nothing can bring you closer to someone than getting lost in foreign cities and navigating your way home together.

Maureen Bailey

Europe, France, travel

The French Family Experience

After completing my first month at Purpan University in Toulouse, France and moving in with a host family in rural southwestern France, it is amazing how different my experience is. Living in Toulouse surrounded by 60 other American students was easy. I always had people to talk to and connect with despite the fact that I was in a completely different country. I didn’t have to think about how I acted, or if I was doing something offensive all the time around my American friends because we all came from similar cultures. When I moved in with my host family, everything changed. All of a sudden I was surrounded by 5 unfamiliar (but very friendly) faces who spoke little to no English, and had a completely different lifestyle than me.

I am now currently living with a wine-producing family in the Madiran region of France. I spend my weekdays working in the vineyards and selling wine to any English speaking customers who happen to come to buy and/or taste wine. Although it is not what I want to do for the rest of my life, it is a great experience, and I’m learning more and more about the wine-making process as I continue my internship.

My host family nearly always has other family members over at their house, and it’s appropriate for anyone to come over unannounced. At my house in the US, we rarely have family over, and when we do it is planned well in advance. Additionally, every meal in my host family’s house is eaten together. Family time and eating are of the utmost importance. Although family time is also very important to my family, we don’t do nearly as many things together as my host family does. I really like and appreciate how much the French value spending their time with others.

Despite that our families are thousands of miles apart, it is almost comical how many different similarities there are between my family and my host family. My host family has three children like my own family. The oldest child takes on the role of the responsible (sometimes cranky) boss, much like my oldest sister. The middle child gets blamed for everything but in reality is the nicest one, much like my older brother. Last (but never the least) the third child is clearly the ornery favorite, much like myself. The last sentence was a joke…kind of. Overall, even though the language barrier is something that is inescapable, and it’s bound to be uncomfortable when you sometimes feel like you are imposing on your host family’s private life, I’m learning more about myself, how to communicate effectively both verbally in English and French and nonverbally through body language… and lots of smiling.  I am looking forward to my next few weeks here!

-Hannah Donoho