June 14, 2024

By Willow Palmer

This past spring semester, I was extremely fortunate to spend a semester studying abroad in Toulouse, France. Nicknamed “La Ville Rose” or “The Pink City” because of the bricks used throughout its construction. Toulouse is just a quick 6-hour train ride south of Paris. It sits on the Garonne River and is just two hours north of the Pyrenees mountains and the Spanish border. My college, Dickinson College, runs a program called “Dickinson en France,” which allows students from both Dickinson and partner institutions to live, work, study, and explore Toulouse and the rest of Europe. The program’s main focuses were language immersion, cultural experiences, and gaining global knowledge.  

While in Toulouse, I took classes through Dickinson and a local partner university, Sciences Po Toulouse. Sciences Po is one of ten Institutes of Political Studies in France. I took courses on everything from Brexit to American political campaigns and global environmental governance. Through Sciences Po, I formed relationships with students and professors from diverse backgrounds, life experiences, and political views. Every class included dialogues comparing different governing styles and institutions. It was eye-opening to learn about countries I had never had the opportunity to connect with before this experience. 

In addition to my academic experience, volunteering at Archipel was one of the most valuable aspects of my time in Toulouse. This community art center hosts workshops for children and adults, community events, and local artist exhibitions. Throughout the semester, I volunteered once a week with the adult workshops, where I learned a lot about French culture and the community members. I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from so many people during my time in France. 

Traveling has been one of the most rewarding but exhausting parts of my time away from home. I traveled around France, from small cities like Albi and Antibes to big cities like Paris. I was able to travel to Rome, Pisa, and Venice in Italy, Barcelona in Spain, London in the United Kingdom, and small spa towns outside Frankfurt, Germany. Exploring so many countries and parts of the world has been unforgettable. 

Now that I am back in the United States, I am full of gratitude for this past semester and excited to work more closely with Team Triad. I plan to use my experiences to continue to grow, stay hungry for new perspectives, and remain open-minded to different views.