Joie de vivre – falling in love with Grenoble

By Anna Exertier, API Grenoble Assistant Resident Director

I have to say that my love for France really started when I decided to take a French class my sophomore year in college. I needed to fill up a gap in my schedule and I thought why not French? I had already taken 4 years in high school but I never particularly cared for it, maybe because it was a requirement or maybe because the class wasn’t very interactive. My first French professor in college, Samuel, was amazing and made me fall in love with everything about France. It was that semester that I changed my major to French! I knew right away that study abroad was a must for me. To study abroad in France and to live with a host family was the best option I knew if I was going to learn the culture and the language as much as possible in the short time I had.

Unfortunately I couldn’t study abroad a whole semester, so a summer program would have to do. I had first thought about studying in Lyon because my university had its own program, but the program just wasn’t calling me. I researched a lot of options online and I fell upon API and their program in Grenoble at the CUEF. Grenoble was a totally new city to me and coming from Iowa where it is completely flat and full of corn, I loved the idea of being surrounded by mountains.

So my decision was made, I was going to study abroad for a summer in Grenoble! I remember the day like it was yesterday, when my API Program Manager called to tell me that I was accepted. I was so excited, especially when I got my acceptance packet. I think I read over everything a billion times. I tried to imagine living with this family and how our communication would go…I’d taken about 3 semesters of French so I wasn’t too worried about the language barrier. It was more the fact that I would be living among total strangers and completely immerged in French daily life that made everything seem all so surreal. I wasn’t ever really worried or scared to go abroad; I think my mother did enough of that for me. I was just ready to get to France and start my adventure.

And that I did! Study abroad changed my life in so many ways; I honestly can’t imagine where I would be today or what I would be doing if I never came to Grenoble that summer in 2003… Now it’s been over 7 years that I’ve lived in Grenoble. I met my husband here and now we have a little family. I still love Grenoble as much as that first summer I spent here. Working for API and re-living with each new student’s their first glimpse and experience in Grenoble brings back those memories for me that I will cherish forever. I always remind students to follow their hearts, do what they love, and not to stress too much about the future because everything will work out, it always does!

Anna studied with API in Grenoble in the summer of 2003 while attending the University of Iowa.

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  1. I love this story! Thanks for sharing it with us, Anna! (:

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