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A 1966' study abroad adventure by John J Ross

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO STUDY ABROAD IN FRANCE?

I studied French in preparatory school and was inspired by a teacher who was not very good technically but loved France and the French language.  I continued to study French at Vanderbilt and it was part of my plan from the time of admission to participate in the program.   

HOW HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE IN FRANCE CONTRIBUTED TO YOUR PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL GOALS?

Professionally I have a number of foreign clients and my experience living in France and speaking French has helped me to understand their needs and to communicate with them. I am also a tree farmer and several years ago I participated in a forestry tour of France and got to use my French a lot on that trip.  The lessons from it have been very useful to me in managing my own property. We are planning to join in another such tour this fall. 

 Personally I have continued to enjoy speaking and reading French and watch many French movies.  My wife and I have a vacation house in Spain and I use my French there a lot to speak with friends since my Spanish is not very good.  Knowing French and about France has been an important part of my life.

CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE ANECDOTE OR MEMORY THAT HAPPENED DURING YOUR STAY IN FRANCE?  

There was snow in Nashville when we left for the spring semester in France. I was a sophomore at Vanderbilt. We flew to New York and took taxis into the city to spend the night there. Harriet, my future wife, was also going to Vanderbilt in Spain and was on the same flight with us to Europe. She and I wanted to see a serious play in New York but could only get tickets to Hello Dolly. The next day I took a bus tour of the city and we left late in the afternoon for the airport. The taxi driver was unhappy with the amount of our luggage.

We flew on Icelandic Airlines on a propeller plane and stopped in Iceland, but only saw the runway. The flight was about 12 hours and we landed in Luxemburg and spend the next night there. My walk around Luxemburg City was my first experience in a European City.

We took a train to Paris the next day and had a tour of the city and a meal at the Sorbonne and took another train to Marseilles. It was overnight and we had sleeping berths in the second class cars, six to the compartment. I did not sleep much and had jet lag too so by the time we got to Aix I was not feeling too well.

We were assigned living quarters; most of the girls were in the Pavillon Mazet where we also had classes. Holly Pittman and I were in an apartment over a bakery owned by the Henri Jacques family at 14 rue Fauchet in the Vieux Aix medieval quarter. I had studied French for several years and thought I knew it pretty well, but could not understand anything anyone said at the beginning. The Jacques men baked the bread and pastries at night and the women sold them during the day. I had long conversations with Henri when I came in and probably learned more French from him than anyone else. I bought a 3 speed bicycle but did not really need it as the Pavillon was only a few blocks from the apartment.

IN ONE SENTENCE, FOR YOU, STUDY IN FRANCE MEANS… 

If there is a Heaven and I get there and it is not Provence I will be disappointed.