Living in Pau was one of the most wonderful experiences in my life. I was able to try different foods and wines and immerse myself in French culture. One of the most memorable experiences for me was the nights of Carnaval in Pau. It is like no other event in the world. There are traditions in this Carnaval where men dress as women and women dress and hunters. The women are dressed as hunters to chase down people who are in bear costumes and are hunting the men dressed as women. This night was an amazing night where everyone watched and ran from the bears providing for a "different" kind of excitement only those who have gone to Pau would understand the partying that goes on in this little town during Carnaval. The week of Carnaval is something you cannot miss out if you visit Pau in the spring.
If I talk about the fun moments in Pau I also must highlight the cross cultural differences between France and the United States that we would never think about. Most of my experiences are funny moments that at first I did not understand but now I laugh over. An example would be when I first arrived to France and was just adjusting to the time difference and I was running late to school. On this day I did not have time to eat at my host parents' house so I ran out eating an apple on my walk to school. As I walked to school people stared at me and I did not know why. It was not until I asked my host mom why people stared at me she told me and I quote "Claudia, tu n'est pas en États-Unis" meaning Claudia you are not in America, in France people do not eat while they walk they only eat if they are sitting at a table. For me this was strange but now it is funny to remember people's reactions to me eating an apple it was --PRICELESS.
Now when it comes to the educational aspect the USAC Pau program is a very well organized and provides students with everything you need. The resident director Robina and assistant director Ryan are awesome people who you can joke around with and give good tips about things to do and places to go not only in Pau but around France, and Europe. The classes were provided in both French and English depending on the level of proficiency. There were elective courses such as the Government and Politics of France that fit well with my major in International Relations. They also offered other courses but mostly the focus of this study abroad program are intensive language courses to improve students level of French rather than pure electives. Classes are small and teachers are very helpful but strict as well so do not think you can just slack off either.