Beginning the last week of my semester in Pau, I’ve thought about all of my memories and experiences from the last four months. Studying in Pau has introduced me to many new friends, not only from France and the United States but from all over the world.
Studying abroad with USAC was one of the best decisions of my life. Living in France has been one of the most life-changing experiences I’ve had. Arriving in Pau at the beginning of January, the first thing I noticed exiting the plane was the palm trees surrounding the airport. I thought to myself that I was going to have warm weather and a beautiful semester. What I actually experienced was what the locals were referring to as the worst winter in over 50 years. It was still warmer than in Ohio, though when I would check the weather on my phone I would see rain every day on the forecast. The weather seemed to stay persistent during the first three months until it did a 360 and became sunny and 75F. Even though it rained for a large part of the semester, my friends and I did not let it stop us. It pushed us to take advantage and enjoy every day that we could.
At first, Pau originally seemed like a small town with not too much to do. However, with a little searching and exploring there is something for just about everyone. Pau is full of opportunities for sports enthusiasts. Some of my favorite sports activities from the semester include skiing in the Pyrenees, visiting the Pau Golf Course, and watching the horse races. Though these are only three examples, you can find just about any sport in Pau. As the temperature began to rise, it was nice to take a trip to the pool or to go white water rafting.
Pau also offers a lot of history through its art museum, the Château de Pau, and guided tours. Though one of my favorite cultural experiences was Carnaval Biarnès. The event brings out all of the locals for a week of performances and street parties.
As to be expected with any study abroad, a large part of our week, throughout the semester, was spent in classes. After class and on weekends, though, we would find time to travel Europe and explore Pau.
In the classroom is where I met some of my best friends of the semester. I spent every day during the week with the same people who were studying the same thing as me, with French being our only common language. Throughout the semester I became better friends with the other foreign students and we often got together outside of class. The professors were friendly and very good at teaching French to foreign students. I remember arriving in France and beginning my semester knowing little to nothing besides simple greetings. Now that I’m at the end of my study abroad, I can hold a conversation with a local and actually survive in the local language. I enjoyed my French classes throughout the whole semester and it will be one of my most missed parts of Pau.
As my semester ends, I am thankful for all of the opportunities I was granted from France and through USAC. When the weather was good, and even when it wasn’t, I was able to explore and experience life in southwest France. The semester introduced me to lifelong friends from across the United States and the rest of the world. I am nothing but grateful for my semester in Pau, and all the of the experiences I have had.
Brandon Green is a University of Toledo student. He studied abroad in Pau, France in Spring 2018. To read more about Brandon’s experience in Pau, check out his blog.