MacJannet Scholars recall Tufts in Talloires, summer 2019
Every summer, the Tufts University European Center organizes the Tufts in Talloires program, a six-week academic program for Tufts undergraduate students. Its students— 84 in summer 2019— receive a unique combination: two credit-bearing Tufts University courses from a range of disciplines, plus the opportunity to live with a French host family and inhale firsthand experience of French culture. In keeping with Donald MacJannet’s belief in learning by experiencing, all the classes offered in Talloires connect in some way with the Haute-Savoie region to give students an experiential component to their coursework.
As students have become more globally minded, the popularity of our program has grown. The Tufts in Talloires Program has become an important (and sometimes the only) vehicle for Tufts students to live abroad and to discover the world beyond what they’ve always known.
The MacJannet Foundation has been instrumental in making this possibility a reality for many students through its generous annual support of the Tufts European Center’s scholarship fund. Last summer, the MacJannet Foundation’s grant of $38,000 helped the European Center offer financial support to 26 students who might not otherwise have been able to travel to Talloires. These “MacJannet Scholars,” in turn, help ensure a more diverse student community for the Tufts in Talloires Program, something that enriches our own community while also teaching our French neighbors and hosts about the richness and diversity of American students.
Every year, we on the Tufts staff see how six weeks in Talloires can exert a profound and long-lasting impact on students’ lives. Last summer’s MacJannet Scholars reflected on their experiences. Excerpts of their comments are below.
Gabriella Goldstein has served as director of the Tufts University European Center in Talloires, France, since 2002.
I was originally very hesitant about coming, because six weeks is a long time, I don’t speak French, and I was nervous about classes. Looking back on my time here, it would have been a huge mistake not to come. I have met so many people that I otherwise would not have met at Tufts, and the memories I have made here are irreplaceable.
I loved being in Talloires. I loved that everyone wanted to be active and outside all the time. There were so many activities to participate in. I went hiking a few times, swam in the lake on every sunny day, and made a lot of new friends.
Being in Talloires is very freeing. It teaches you more than you could think about what you value in life, particularly outside of academics.
Overall, the Tufts in Talloires program did force me to get out of my comfort zone and interact with new people. While this was occasionally overwhelming, it has taught me how to have greater confidence in myself.
More relaxed than Medford
A great opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture, eat French cuisine, talk to locals, hike up the Alps, and take a course in a more relaxed environment than what you would experience in Medford.
No more beautiful place
There is no more beautiful place in the world to dive head first into fast-paced but extremely interesting courses.
Beyond my major
The classes I took were super interesting. I loved learning about topics outside my major, like art history and alpine flowers!
Family, friends, freedom
I had a lovely time exploring the city of Annecy, the town of Talloires, and other surrounding areas (Lyon, the mountains in this region, parts of Italy, etc.). My host family also greatly enhanced my experience by allowing me to join in on their plans if I wanted, but also giving me the freedom to do whatever I wanted.
Kindness = Happiness
Everyone was super kind and happy to be there! It has always felt like such a healthy, pure, and friendly environment, which just creates a feeling of happiness.
I formed friendships that I never would have otherwise, despite my worries that I didn’t know enough people before I got here.
Biking and hiking
Some highlights for me were biking around the lake, going on some of the hikes, and trying all the amazing food.
The staff and other Tufts students are here to help you through all the uncomfortableness of being in a new country. It is incredible how many people I have met through this program that I had no idea were at Tufts. I cannot wait to go back to campus and see all of them.
Flowers and children
I loved interacting with the kids of the village and hiking in my flowers class. Flowers class made me feel like a little kid again, because I haven’t had such an immersive science experience since elementary school. One of the most special experiences I had was visiting my host dad’s class of six-year-olds and reading books to them.
Trip of a lifetime
I had the exquisite pleasure of living in this country for six weeks as someone who does not know a lick of French. I swam in the lake all the time, I studied for my classes, I explored old Annecy, I met new people and made new connections, accumulated new habits, and learned so much about myself.
Life at a different pace
The pace of life and culture in Annecy is really different from the States, which gives you a chance to slow down and reflect on life. The academics here are rigorous but fun.
Exploring on my own
Due to the location of my house, my commute was nearly an hour and a half. This meant that every day, twice a day, I got to experience Annecy and Talloires on my own.
The lure of Talloires
Talloires is truly a magical place. You will immerse yourself in a new culture and grow so much in just six weeks. You become a part of a family, both with your host family and with the students who are with you.
Instead of junior year abroad….
It was especially nice because I made the decision not to go abroad during my junior year, and this ended up being the perfect fit for me. It was a great balance of the freedom of most abroad programs while also retaining the comfort of the Tufts community.
More than food and mountains
It would be a shame if someone comes to Tufts in Talloires only for cheese, wine, and baguettes. Exchange programs should do more than just confirm preconceived stereotypes. During my interaction with my host family, I learned so much about French political dynamics and cultural aspects, which are never mentioned outside of Europe. I think these cultural exchanges are the most valuable components of the program, rather than superficial concepts like food and mountains.
Exploring on foot
I lived in Les Granges, close to Talloires, and really enjoyed being so close to town. It was wonderful to walk to class and go to the beach afterwards, or have picnics with my host family by the lake. It was amazing to get to study in such a tranquil and idyllic place.
All this in one program
I was immersed in French culture and everyday life with my host family and learned more about what makes the Haute-Savoie region so unique. I met students and faculty whom I might not have crossed paths with back in Medford, and I spent time resting or reading by the beach. And I did this all within the comforts of a Tufts-run program, which made it easy to adjust to.
My new normal
It still blows my mind, walking to school each morning, that these views, these people, this food have all become my normal daily routine.
Trying new foods
I loved hiking, lying out on the plage, wandering around Annecy, and trying new foods (I tried duck, rabbit, escargots, beef tartare, and frogs’ legs here -- all for the first time).
Compared to the fast-paced life Americans have, France was so much different. After class, I could just sit by the lake and listen to the wind rustling through the leaves or hear the sound of water undulating in the wind or watch the clouds make their way past the mountain peaks. Being able to take in everything here in France made me more relaxed and more open to new scenery as well as a plethora of other possibilities.
Getting to know French people and learn about their culture was awesome, and they were so accommodating (the clichés are not true!)
Looking inside yourself
Take advantage of every opportunity, whether that means doing a hike with Pierre, going into Annecy with friends, or practicing your French at a grocery store. Traveling is a unique experience that really allows you to see those qualities in yourself that stay and which ones don't.
Wonders of Annecy
The cool thing about Annecy is that it is an entire metropolis, with an extensive old city, a downtown, parks, shops, restaurants, Michelin star restaurants, beaches, promenades, and even a regional university, all packed into only a few square miles. This meant that it was very easy to walk anywhere in the city, and that there was always a lot to see.
A remedy for routine
It is a great way to get out of the routine that we are all used to in Medford.
Arriving in Talloires, I was pretty nervous about my classes, meeting new people, and living with a family who speaks a different language. However, upon reflection, I had nothing at all to worry about.
The best part
Absolutely, the classes are actually the best part. Ancient Gaul engaged my interest every second, every reading, and every discussion. Professor Hitchner's passion for Rome, Gaul, and the Ancient world is truly contagious. Dance and movement was a wonderful adventure and an unparalleled experience of connection and self-growth that allowed me to breathe in the full experience of Talloires.
Open mind, open heart
Come with an open mind, an open heart, and a desire to explore and learn. Don't judge a cheese by its smell; taste it first... trust me. Enjoy every second you get to spend in class, in Le Prieuré, or even having midnight herbal tea with your host family!
A long, storied legacy
It was amazing to learn, while watching the video narrated by Andrew McClellan, how much we are part of a long, storied, and amazing legacy by being part of this program, and I was touched by that.