We strive for all students to be able to participate in our programs feeling safe, secure, and supported. Your experiences will be unique to you and will be influenced by your intersecting identities and cultural background as they relate to the belief systems and cultural norms of the Talloires region, and more widely, France as a whole.
Many students choose to go abroad in order to broaden their worldview. However, we recognize that at times, aspects of this experience will challenge your perspective in ways that are new and potentially difficult to process. We encourage you to share these moments with any member of our staff so that we can support you and point you toward helpful resources.
Due to its sociopolitical history and cultural norms, the social landscape in France does not directly mirror that of the U.S. In France, language around race, sexuality, gender, religion, and other personal identities can be more candid, pointed, and direct than what you might be used to or expect in the U.S. You may notice that French people generally speak more openly and frankly about difference, especially as it relates to race and sexuality, than many Americans do, and you may encounter stereotypes, questions, and curiosity. Because you will be in a different cultural context, certain aspects of your identity may have a different meaning in France than in the United States. We encourage you to consider that your intersecting identities may be viewed differently than they are in the U.S. The information provided below is a starting point for your individual exploration. We will provide additional resources and tools for preparation throughout the pre-departure period.
How can you prepare for this experience?
Read about France’s history, culture, laws, and demographics. While reading news articles, commentaries, or blogs, please consider the lens through which the information was written.
Attend our pre-departure training sessions and ask us questions. We are here to support you and want you to feel as prepared as possible before, during, and after your experience!
Reach out to students who have studied abroad in Talloires to hear their stories.
Make use of online resources that offer advice, personal narratives, and other information. (Be cautious when using social media which may be less “filtered” than news sources in some countries or may include current events/stories that aren't “newsworthy.”)
While the below list of resources is not necessarily specific to Talloires, several are specific to France, and we believe all of them will provide additional insight. We highly encourage you to check them out, as well as other resources that are available on the internet.
France24.com: news about France and Francophone countries in English
DiversityAbroad.com: an organization whose mission is “to create equitable access to the benefits of global education” in a variety of ways –explore their website for several tools and resources!
Note: These sites or any product or service provided by the sites are not affiliated with or endorsed by Tufts University.
Please remember that Tufts resources are also available to you while you are in Talloires. These include:
During our pre-departure process, the European Center staff will communicate frequently with you and provide much more information about each of the topics indicated below. During our pre-departure session, we will explore various aspects of identity and discuss each one in depth. We have included below some links to pages that may be helpful in your own exploration.
The ways that racial and ethnic identities are defined and understood vary by culture. In France, you may be identified with existing cultural or ethnic groups, or you may be considered as an American first, and your ethnic or racial identity will be secondary. You may have to think about your identity in a new way, through the lens of France’s historical and social context.
The general social liberalism of France yields a fairly accepting attitude toward the LGBTQ+ community, especially in cities and toward travelers. However, French culture encourages discretion about what are considered to be personal matters, such as one’s sexuality. Please note that, just like in other countries, there are still incidents of homophobia.
You may experience a shift in the ways gender identities, roles, and norms are perceived while you are in France. It’s possible that you may be treated differently or be expected to treat others differently based on these factors, and your behavior in some situations may be viewed differently abroad than at home. It is very important to inform yourself as best as possible about behavioral expectations, dating, and relationships in France.
France has a particularly complex intersection of religion and culture. It is important to do some research about religious life in France before you go, and while there, keep an open mind about religious practices. In doing this, you'll be able to gain a better understanding of your own belief system(s) and an increased familiarity of others’.
The Tufts European Center in Talloires is set in an old Priory, once part of a Benedictine monastery built over 1000 years ago. Its historic status prevents us from making any structural changes to the building. Although many classes and events take place on the ground floor, the building is very difficult to access for those with limited mobility. Please reach out to us directly if you wish to discuss this, or any other aspect of the program's accessibility!