This is the second in a series of weekly blog posts submitted by a team of Centre College students studying away or abroad throughout the spring semester. Learn more about Centre’s nation-leading study abroad program, a guarantee of the Centre Commitment.
Clayton Bell (Liberty Township, Ohio), a sophomore planning to major in mathematics, is a member the football team and the New Horizons program at Centre, an initiative that helps promote diversity among campus. Throughout the semester, Bell will be providing a series of blog posts detailing his study abroad experience in Strasbourg, where he is doing a home-stay with a local family. He says he chose to study abroad in France, because he’s always wanted to “experience the amazing architecture, language, food and other aspects of their culture.” Bell plans to attend graduate school after Centre.
Strasbourg: WEEK 1
This is my first time studying abroad at Centre, and I couldn’t imagine a better place to do it. Strasbourg has been wonderful so far and has exceeded all of my expectations. I am currently living in a home-stay with the Schnitzler’s and it is amazing. The house is located in a suburb about 5 miles outside of the main city. It is a family of six, including the mom and dad with four children. The kid’s names are Live (7), MaeMae (10), Quinton (14) and Yoan (16). They are super fun to hangout with—they show me different bike trails, we play games, we walk to local boulangeries (bakeries), and more. They have been a remarkable family to me by welcoming me with open arms. They even took me to a house in the mountains where we went skiing and sledding in the snow! It is incredible to see the differences of lifestyles between the cultures of America and France—from the food, to daily life, to the language. With so much more to discover, I am excited that I will be here for an extended period of time.
In addition to my great homestay family, Strasbourg has so much to offer from a historical perspective. The city and the region where it is located—Alsace—has played a key role in multiple world events, such as both World Wars. It’s also home to important buildings that play a major role in the Council of Europe and the European Union. For example, Strasbourg is where the European Parliament building sits, where one of two headquarters of the European Union is located, and also where the main building of the Council of Europe is. All of these landmarks being located here in Strasbourg is symbolic of lasting peace between all of Europe and, most importantly, between France and Germany. Another historic feature of the city is the Notre-Dame de Strasbourg, which is one of the tallest standing churches in Europe—even taller than the Notre-Dame in Paris. Its construction started in the early 11th century, and it remains the tallest building in Strasbourg to this day. It’s breathtaking to look at, even after being here a week.
Beyond exploring all of Strasbourg, my group has also ventured to Kehl, Germany, a pretty little town with a lot of open space located right across the Rhine river. One thing that I still think is amazing is the ease of travel between the two countries. All we had to do was take a tram over the bridge and get off, and then we were in Germany. But, just to think, a century ago that idea would have been absurd. Another interesting thing to consider is the multiple languages almost everyone speaks—many people here are near fluent in French, German and English. And, if they are not fluent, they know enough to effectively communicate in all three. Some people also speak the regional language of Alsace, which is a mix of French and German.
I am excited to have so much more time in Strasbourg—there is much I need to see and explore. This city has a lot more to offer, and I intend to take advantage of it. But, first, I need to take on the challenge of mastering French!
by Clayton Bell ’21
February 19, 2019