Bonjour à tous! I’m Michael, BA/B.Education at the University of Sydney.

I consider myself an avid languages enthusiast, to the extent that I’m studying to become a teacher of foreign languages. However throughout my degree I always kinda felt that I needed to majorly level up my own language skills before hoping to teach others.  Not knowing what to do, and not having any spare units in my degree left to study French, I was scrolling down Facebook one day and came across an ad for AIM Overseas – Intensive French in Vichy. This was exactly what I needed. And so in January 2016, AIM sent me over to the awesome city of Vichy to learn French at CAVILAM.

This is me the first time I saw snow fall at CAVILAM. Naturally, all the Aussies ran out of class to frolic.

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The biggest highlight of my experience would be where I was. I was in France, learning French from a French language school, speaking French to French people and other French learners…I go out and have to use my French when ordering food or asking for directions…then I go back home to my French-speaking host family, have conversations and watch movies completely in French. This was pure immersion, and it was exactly what I needed.

I’ve tried to learn a lot of different languages in a lot of different ways, but I can honestly say that nothing quite compares to the learning experience I had whilst attending CAVILAM. This is a language school, and they definitely know what they’re doing. This was the definition of contextually relevant language teaching, and although I still have a lot to learn, my French level skyrocketed over the course of 4 weeks.

Besides learning so much, the Intensive French program allowed the opportunity to make incredible long-lasting friendships, not only with the awesome Aussies who were also on the AIM program, but with people who have come from all over the world. It’s insane to think how quickly the strangers around me became really good mates.

Here’s all of us striking a ‘cool’ pose at an Ice-skating rink in Clermont-Ferrand.

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The people were genuinely so kind and welcoming. I’ve spent time in Paris before but coming to Vichy has allowed me to see a city that isn’t riddled with tourists. The citizens of Vichy are well aware of CAVILAM,  and they are very receptive to foreigners trying their best to communicate in French. This made the passive learning process outside of class even more epic. Not only did my host family feed me and provide a roof over my head, but they actively did what they could to ensure I was getting the most out of my short stay, giving me the insider tips for where to go and what to do in Vichy.

Another thing that surprised me was that CAVILAM had the most awesome experiences available for its students, offering a wide range of activities and events that you could sign up for every week. Whether it was climbing a mountain, visiting a castle, international weeks or even letting the Aussies celebrate Australia day…the opportunities never stopped.

Here’s a group of us taking a break to take in the views while climbing up Puy de Dôme.

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Just do it. Don’t let your dreams be dreams.

I honestly believe I got more out of these 4 weeks in France than I ever have from learning anywhere else.

You make so many new friends, you experience so much, and you learn what you want to learn in an amazing institution, all while you’re overseas. The dream! Not only do I have experiences to show off to my mates back in Aus, but real-life experiences to enhance my ability to teach future students. What I experienced in CAVILAM is in no textbook! If you want to further your knowledge of French, or whatever your interest area is…the incredibly friendly AIM team will be more than happy to help you on your way.

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