Never to be Forgotten: Video Transcript

Harrison Graydon [senior major in International Studies; French, pre-law program, Class of 2018]: I had heard about Lyon as a city, and I knew I really wanted to go study there and learn more about the city and the community and the culture of the area, so I was really happy that I was able to do that.

So one thing I really love about Lyon is that, compared to say, Paris, Lyon is definitely a city that has more historical character because it was … a lot of the sections of the city have never been rebuilt. They're the original medieval buildings, and it's the second largest city in France, and I really wanted to be in a big city but I didn't really want to live in Paris, so it was perfect. And also the location within France I really liked because it was near the foothills of the Alps. Lyon has a really, really historic character to it that has been unchanged, I mean, even going back to the Romans.

USAC paired me with an outstanding host family because they paired me with a family who lived in a building that was actually built in the fifteenth century, which (1) is already very cool, but (2) these people were very fascinating and very, very wonderful people, and very kind.

I was able to speak French the whole time I was there with them, because when I first got there my French was a little shaky, I was a little nervous, but I had told them that I'd like to only speak French, and so we did!

They were very interested in history and in the arts, which I really liked because they knew a lot about their city, where they lived, and about various places to go, because my host mom was a tour guide, actually. So she was very interested in history, and in art, and in the city of Lyon, so I felt like that provided me with a lot of excellent opportunities.

They also took me to their family reunion when I first got there, which is something I'll never forget because, I mean, I was with a huge French family at their countryside home with, I mean, generations of family. There was a 95-year-old man all the way down to infants and I … They were gracious enough to invite me to go with them, and I had a wonderful time. Like I said, I'll never forget that as long as I live.

Another exciting opportunity that came about with that was it was not only American students through USAC; there were foreign students from all over the world who were coming there to learn French. And so I made a lot of friends who were people from other parts of the world where our only common language was French. So I made a number of good friends —from Chile, from Italy, from Colombia. Getting to know people when your only common language is your second language is quite an interesting experience.

For me, it changed my life because it put me in what were oftentimes challenging or even uncomfortable situations for me, but I was able to adapt and grow from them, and there were times where I felt like, I mean, doing things that would be very simple to do here in America, like going to a store and asking for help on a certain thing or mailing something, I had to go in and, you know, use my French at these kinds of situations. And so it helped me be not only self-reliant even more than I ever was but it also helped me to be self-reliant in another language. So for me, that was very challenging, and it really helped me to feel like I can approach many different new challenges now because there were certain things that before I left on this program I never would have thought I would have been able to do.

[March 2018]