This is a weekly installment in a series of 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 of the football team and the New Horizons program at Centre, a leadership program that helps promote campus diversity. 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.
It is hard to find words to describe how much of an amazing time I am having here. Europe has been so enjoyable for me so far, and I am sad that my time here is starting to come to an end. Everyday I become closer to my homestay family, whether that is spending the evening watching French films with them, going outside to play basketball with my host-brothers or even going on a mountain biking excursion with my host-father. Every day is something new, and I love it.
Along with that, I continue to travel to amazing new places that I never would have dreamt of. In the past month, I have traveled to: Biel in Switzerland, Bordeaux in the southwest of France and Prague in the Czech Republic. All of them were absolutely stunning, and, honestly, I couldn’t pick a favorite if you asked me to.
I will start with Switzerland, which was outright beautiful. The main city that we stayed closest to was called Biel, but our house was in a suburb of the region called Jens. The whole area is surrounding the Bielersee Lake. On one side of the lake, there is a medium-sized mountain range, which we spent one whole day hiking through. From those mountains, we could see the infamous Alps, and they were nothing like I had ever seen before. It was an amazing view, and the hiking trail we went on was an incredible experience. The day after, we traveled to Bern, which was very pretty also. It had more of city vibe to it, which was nice to have, but I don’t think that anything can beat the natural beauty that Switzerland has to offer.
After Switzerland, I decided to visit the city of Bordeaux in France. It’s located in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region in the southwestern part of the country. Bordeaux had a heavy bourgeoise atmosphere that was a pleasant change of pace to all of the other places I have been visiting. It’s also home to some of the most historical and aesthetically pleasing buildings in France. Some of my favorite places to see there were the Place de la Bourse, the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux, the Basilica of St. Michael and the Porte de Bourgogne. But, my absolute favorite thing there was Pont de Pierre, which goes across the Garonne River—it was a masterpiece. Luckily, I was in Bordeaux an extended period of time, as it was spring break while I was there. Because of that, I had the opportunity to travel outside of the city to Arcachon Bay. I really enjoyed Arcachon, because it was my first time being able to visit a beach since being in France that was pleasurable to walk on—the sand was soft, and the water was a very deep color of blue that was stunning. I also visited the historical battleground of Castillon, which is what put an end to the Hundred Years’ War. It was a very interesting place, considering all of its significant history. Bordeaux did not disappoint at all, and I would go back there in a heartbeat, if I got the chance to.
The final place I visited in the past month was Prague in the Czech Republic. There was a certain charm to this city—and I still can’t quite put my finger on it—but, it made me love it even more. Prague has a rich history of the supernatural, so the group I was with couldn’t resist visiting a haunted house—which, I will admit, I was actually scared in! Also located in the city is the Prague Castle, which was an impressive building/complex. Overall, Prague offered an enjoyable change from western Europe. When we got there, we could tell the shift in culture almost immediately—from the architecture to just the overall style in life. It was a very amusing city that provided plenty to do for the couple of days we were there—and we still had so much more that we wanted to do. I guess that just gives me reason to go back soon!
As I wrap up my time in the program, I am going to value every second that I have left. It has been such a great experience so far, and I am so happy that I was able to share my experiences through this blog. Wish me luck as I continue my journey in Europe!
by Clayton Bell ’21
May 7, 2019