The Village of Pontlevoy
The tiny village of Pontlevoy is a historic little town that will forever hold a piece of my heart. I spent three months here and now I know I will always be able to call it home and be welcomed when I go back to visit. To people who have just passed through or have never been, they may not understand why such a small village means a lot to us who have been on The Village Program. People may not be able to comprehend how a place with no shopping or a movie theater, that has a total of four places to eat (and that includes the bakery), or a small grocery store that is basically comparable to a convenient store is so dear to us. But they weren’t there. They didn’t experience what we did. So honestly, most of the program will be hard to convey to people back home. It is hard to describe what Pontlevoy and the experiences I had while abroad mean to me. To people who were not there to experience and see it with me, they will never be able to fully understand where I am coming from.
I shared a host family with a classmate, who became one of my close friends, while in Pontlevoy. To be completely honest, I was not too keen on the idea of a host family at first. I got a host family that spoke only a little English, which made me really nervous. However, the dinners we shared were amazing and a very memorable part of my time on The Village. They were the sweetest people, and I soon realized that even with the language barrier that there was nothing to be nervous about. They were so welcoming and always feed us amazing food. One time, they took us to a house in a cave, where we both tried escargot (snails) for the first time.
We both found out that night that snails are actually really good and we really liked them, so give them a try if you get the chance. And to future Village students, I’d say this: If you are apprehensive about getting a host family, just do it. It’s worth it and honestly it’s some of the best food and meals you will have while on the program. All the families that I met all seemed so nice and welcoming, so there’s nothing to worry about.
Le Commerce is one of the places that I loved in Pontlevoy. Julien, who owns the cafe we made into our living room, is absolutely fantastic. He made us laugh all the time, whether it was what he said, or if it was him singing at karaoke, or dancing along to a song, or just the expressions he gave us. He is so sweet and so welcoming to everyone that comes into Le Commerce. He always accommodated anything we wanted to do there, often staying open late so we could play card games or even just study for classes while enjoying hot chocolate, coffee, or a glass of wine. He loved having us there and took the time to talk to us and teach us about the French culture.
The Abbey is a place that you grow fond of over the period of three months that you are on The Village Program. You may not think you will when the hot water stalls out, or the Wi-Fi gets spotty or goes down, or when you hit your head on the sink trying to shave your legs because the sinks overlaps into the shower, or when you realize that for the 20th time that day you have to walk up the six flights of stairs to go to your room, use the bathroom, or go to the Flying Buttress. But when you leave, you’ll look back on those memories fondly, even though you know you won’t miss those six flights of stairs. It was also very convenient just having to walk downstairs for class versus across campus, especially when there’s an 8am class. The Abbey and tiny Pontlevoy are going to hold forever some of my most cherished lifetime memories, and I’m grateful that I got to share this experience with my classmates and the professors.