WWOOFing in France

WWOOF, which stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, is just one option beyond studying abroad to get out and explore the world. I spent my entire junior year last year preparing for study abroad my senior year. My heart was absolutely set on it, and I was ready to follow through with everything. I’d attended orientation in Eugene, sent in my host family preferences, signed up for classes, and had even already checked out the tango dance scene. The only part that didn’t follow through? My finances.

Upon realizing a tad too late that there was no way I could afford the ridiculous fifteen grand to study in Lyon, I looked elsewhere for a way to 1) travel 2) ameliorate my French 3) have some fun. A few classmates and coworkers had done WWOOFing before, and they were the ones to put the bug in my ear. In exchange for approximately 5-6 hours of work per day, 5 days a week, a farm will host you, house you, and feed you. So essentially, you can go stay and work for a host family for the price of a plane ticket and whatever else you’d want to spend your money on for fun.

I chose to come to Velaux, France, just outside of Marseille on the Mediteranean, to work on a horse farm. My hosts have been incredibly gracious and welcoming, and I’ve learned a lot while being here. I still have two weeks left, but time seems to be flying. I’ve learned how to ride horses, how to care for them, the pain of getting stepped on by one and what the electrical fence feels like, and that horses get super cranky if you don’t feed them on time.

It’s been a great experience so far. I plan to do this again, but in Germany or Sweden next time. I’ve had the same advantages of studying abroad in that I’ve gotten much better at my comprehension of French, I’ve met a bunch of new people, and I’ve even been able to take my days off to explore Marseille, Montpellier, and Nice. And not to mention the food and wine… So if you’re strapped for cash but have a desire to go abroad, let me recommend you to WWOOF! If you’re interested in following my adventures as I’m currently working as a WWOOFer, here’s my personal blog: katiegoestofrance.wordpress.com. And if you want to check out what WWOOF is and how to get involved, go here.

Speaking French

I presently speak no French. Or I should say, the French I did attempt to use with on a recent trip to France had the natives there staring at me and then turning to my wife, who does speak French asking her (translated here), “Madam, is this man your husband? What is he trying to say?”

When my wife, Janet, and I were discussing marriage six years ago, there was one caveat she placed before me that I had to agree to if we were going to marry. (At this point all kinds of things were racing through my mind–prenuptial agreements, mother-in-laws wanting to live with us, religious rites involving hoods, pet snakes, etc…) And then she said in all seriousness, “It has been my life long dream to move to France when I retire. If we marry you have to agree to move there with me. Do you?” Instantly a wave of relief washed over me. I put a big grin on and said, “Yes, but I don’t speak French.” She replied, “Yes. I’ve heard you try.”

So years later now and our France move is getting closer. I am busy working to finish my BA degree in Liberal Arts here at PSU. I know I need six terms of a foreign language to complete for this degree. I start French 101 next fall term.

Bon chance moi.

Au Revoir ~