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This past January I went to Switzerland for my very first time. After spending only one week with Raymonde, I am already planning my next trip out there. Her patient, yet persistent teaching style, the activities she planned and the gorgeous setting made this a truly remarkable week!

I was a little nervous getting to Nyon from Zurich as a solo traveler, but the trains were so much easier than I had imagined. Plus, it helped that Raymonde was there to meet me at that last stop with a big hug and a huge smile. I was immediately welcomed into her home with such warmth. I had a large, lovely bedroom and bathroom all to myself and felt comfortable the moment I walked in her front door.

Each morning she had tea and a light breakfast ready (I don’t eat much in the mornings) and we would sit and talk about the previous day, the current days’ activities and pleasant ‘get to know each other’ conversations. That alone was really great practice for me, but that was just the beginning! There would be about three hours of sit-down instruction that would follow during each day. As the low intermediate student that I am, she was immediately able to pick up on the grammar issues I was struggling with so we focused primarily on those. There were workbook exercises, listening comprehension activities and a little homework for me to complete on my own. I also told her I wanted to become more comfortable shopping and eating at restaurants so she included various role-playing exercises so I could practice those situations.

Over the course of the week, in addition to the more formal instruction, there were various excursions that I participated in. I accompanied her to a grocery store (where she used that time to teach me more vocabulary) and we went on a long walk through her beautiful village where I was able to continue practicing my conversational French. We spent one afternoon snow-shoeing in the breathtaking Jura Mountains to a quaint (and super delicious) chalet. There, Raymonde introduced me to some amazing fondue and vin chaud. We also spent an afternoon driving along the coast of Lake Geneva through the gorgeous vineyards and stopping at various towns for some lunch and shopping along the way. Every activity we did was an opportunity for me to practice, practice, practice!

Prior to this trip to Switzerland, I had never participated in a teaching program like this. I attended one language immersion school in France for two weeks in 2016. While I definitely improved my French during my time there, it was a much more formal setting with the classrooms and marker boards and the ten minute breaks between classes. I left with improved French, but I was disappointed I hadn’t been able to experience the life and the culture of that city. My week in Nyon, however, was such a different experience from that. I had the opportunity to see and experience so much! I returned home feeling like I really had the opportunity to explore that remarkable area of Lake Geneva all while practicing *and* improving my French.

I had such a marvellous time with Raymonde that I plan on returning in 2020. See you soon, Raymonde!

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