Slow Movement Learning: a Student Writes from Week One of The Village!


“To be feared or to be loved?”  That was the quote in my Mass Comm class today. (Of course the only response I could think of to that was Michael Scott saying, “I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.”) While I got more of a kick out of it than my professor, it was still a nice way to start a class. It’s so hard to believe that our first week of classes is almost over! Even with all the homework, I feel like I’ve already learned so much. Being in France while studying French and everything else we’re doing makes all the difference.  So does really good coffee, though it doesn’t come in to-go cups, which seems bizarre to us, but I’ve grown to accept it. The French aren’t worried about time, especially here in the Loire Valley. Life is a lot slower paced, and the idea of rushing out the door instead of sitting and chatting over espresso is foreign to them. It’s made us all slow down an learn to enjoy whatever we’re doing in the moment instead of thinking about what’s next.


We’re finally starting to blend in! Well, maybe not all the way blended, but we can communicate! (Barely). We can successfully order out breakfast and coffee, and the sweet old man recognizes us now at Cafe Brazza. We can grocery shop and carry on (short) conversations with Francois, the local grocer. He is the kindest person I have ever met. He speaks a little English and is so, so helpful while browsing the aisles. He, along with Julien the owner of the cafe, help us practice our French. Their eagerness to teach and assist us all is so endearing, and I can already see how you might have to drag me home in three months because I won’t want to leave this perfect town.


This weekend we’re heading into Tours to look at several chateaux and do some shopping (a week with no hairdryers, curlers, or straightener is too long for these princesses with whom I’m sharing our wonderful and historic home. Stay tuned. I know in town of over 30,000 college students, Tours will likely be quite an adventure.

Kyle S. V13


Meeting Our Town: Day Two of The Village



The language of Gesture

–AKB, Village “13

For breakfast this morning we all went down to the bakery for croissants (easy enough to ask for), and everything you here about them is true. French pastries really are better. Being so early and so cold, Taylor and I needed some coffee, and Dr. Mackaman told us of good place to go. So we walked in and soon realized that the precious little old man working the counter knew not one word of English. So here I am, once again, terribly regretting that I don’t know any French, and resorting to sign language- which was really just holding up two fingers and hoping he’d give me a double shot. He understood and held up a cup for it, and in return I pointed and replied “si”. Well, that’s only like the 100th time I’ve tried to speak Spanish instead. Taylor only laughed at the confused look on the poor man’s face, and waited quite a bit before telling me “si” means “if” in French. What a way to start a day.

A Scavenger Hunt for Hilarity

We continued the day with a scavenger hunt around the town which proved to be quite helpful and a fun way to experience The Village Lab for our first time, We had to find the grocery and pharmacy and ATM among other places, and ran into many locals along the way. Our French village grew even more charming and adorable (if that’s possible) after exploring it on our own. Plus even if we all butchered the language and had to fall into broken Spanish again at times, the exercise succeeded. Because in an hour or two we found all the basic things in town that we need for our lives here. (We also laughed at each other and might have got extra croissants along the way!)


Savoring the Start

Classes begin in the morning, so today was nice to relax with our new friends and just appreciate being here for a minute. I’m honestly so excited about my classes tomorrow (history nerd, I know), but mainly because we’ve got to learn this language before things get any worse out there on the cobblestone streets of our town.  In the meantime, we’re settling in to our historic home pretty darned well and mostly recovered from the flight over.  It’s amazing to think that the whole semester and its unknown adventures lie ahead. Will we travel to all the places that people said they were going to tonight at dinner? Will we all get A’s in our classes? Will we get every hidden nook of this gorgeous town before the semester carries us all off to Paris and London and further?

I hope so. But whatever unfolds, I’m in the right place for me. 


We Why we call it VisionQuest…



The tradition of an experiential voyage from which growth and change will come to a young traveler is well known in societies around the world. The Native American version of such a time and experience has been characterized as a “vision quest.” The Village pays homage to this each fall, when our students set out twice with their friends and chart their way across Europe to explore, discover and grow.



The magic of this time is that there’s no right path to take on the adventure of independent travel. There’s also no stumble or detour along the journey that can’t produce a beautiful memory and likely, too, amazing bouts of laughter for the travels who share together some of the greatest inside jokes they’ll ever know.


Two Weeks: same plan or different plan

Over the years, we’ve seen many different patterns emerge in how and where students venture during their two sessions of VisionQuest. One model that’s more common than all others is to look at the two trips as very separate from each other, with each serving a special purpose for the student.



This can mean that VisionQuest 1 is your “fun break,” during which you take off with a larger group of travel buddies maybe, and head by train to Munich for the fun of Oktoberfest. Or maybe your group hops a cheap flight to Dublin from Tours and takes the week to explore the magic of that city and its incredible charms.  Nobody who takes in the amazing fun and adventure of either Munich or Dublin is ever disappointed.



Then for VisionQuest 2, what we’ve often seen is more students traveling in small groups of two or three. Who are all about having the same kind of experience. The small group can be a more reflective and quiet chance for a voyage that can feel more mindful. Maybe you’ll fly from London to Italy and have your chance to take trains from Venice to Florence and then Rome? Or perhaps you’ll go to Prague and Vienna for thee nights each, and take advantage of your buying power in eastern and Central Europe.



Making a Mindful Journey

We’ve seen students who’ve fallen in love with museums and with art turn their VisionQuest 2 into a pilgrimage to see as many High Renaissance paintings as a week can allow. And we’ve seen students fall in love with History so much that they’ve gone as far as Krakow and Auschwitz to see for themselves where the Holocaust happened. Or to Normandy, to see the beaches that our soldiers stormed on 6 June 1944.

Whatever your interests and eventual choices are for your VisionQuest weeks, you’ll find our faculty and staff to be keenly interested in helping you learn how to make your plans come together into two amazing weeks of dynamic experiences and growth. And you’ll learn as you plan how to make good on a key Village mantra: we explore on a budget more fully than others do with all the money in the world. That’s VisionQuest on The Village.


Our Scholarships Can Make The Village Happen for you!


Money: want some?

If you’re like most of our students, money isn’t something you have a ton of. In fact, most of our students will tell you that they had to work hard and be very clever to get their dreams for studying in Europe lined up with reality.  So what did they do that you can do too?  They took full advantage of the scholarships that are available for The Village.

What are these scholarships?

Globalizedu (the company that partners with UWF to make The Village happen) has special Village Scholarships available for students who sign up in February for the program. The awards will be at the $1000 level. Then UWF students can compete for the UWF Foundation Study Abroad Scholarships, which can award amounts of as much as $2500 per student. Then, students can go dig and find their own scholarships nationally. Here’s a list of 45 study-abroad scholarships to get you started on the cash hunt!



Cost of Attendance Compared

So let’s look at the numbers and imagine that you do The Village and are a recipient of our $1000 scholarship.  The total cost of attendance of The Village–including all fixed and variable costs–is $13,899 before you factor in your scholarships.  Now subtract the $1000 in scholarship support, and you will be in Europe for a full semester, earning as many as 15 credits, for a total cost of $12,899. The memories you’ll make? The places you’ll go and the people you’ll go there with? The Village will be utterly unforgettable.



So what’s the scenario if you’re a Florida resident and you stay in Florida and live on campus and don’t do The Village? The UWF website estimates that your total cost of attendance for the fall will be $10,030.  If you’re an Alabama resident, the website estimates that you will spend $12,160 as your cost of attendance. If you’re not a Florida resident, your estimated cost of attendance is $16,450. Meanwhile, as you view powerpoint lectures back on campus The Village will be asking our students to use primary documents from the Victorian and Edwardian eras, full of medical theories on the early history of PTSD. Ever wondered what cursive looked like from a century ago? You’ll learn tiny things with us and also very big ones.  But only if you come.



The Village Investment is Smart

For our UWF students, then, the secret to doing The Village is our scholarships.  They make it so you can study in Europe and earn full-time UWF credit for hardly any more money at all than what it costs to stay back in Florida.  And if you’re an Alabama or other out-of-state student, it can actually cost much less to study on The VIllage than to stay home at UWF.

So how about coming on The Village and letting us help you get there?

PS. Our students are also highly successful at getting scholarships outside of what Globalizedu offers for The Village. Remember that the UWF Foundation offers its own awards, and these go as high as about $2500 each.  (More free money you can only access by studying abroad!) And don’t forget the rest of the free money you can seek nationally: there are tons of other scholarships out there!


Village Travel Tip: The Under 27 Rail Card


Train Deals: new and old

Back in the old days of study abroad, students coming to Europe for a semester all bought the well-loved Eurail pass. Then along came cheap flights and buses, and all that changed. Now more than ever, students are scooping up cheapo flights and all-night bus deals and snaking their wall all over the continent.

But train deals remain, and the best of these might just be the long-beloved “Carte Jeune,” which is a highly discounted way to travel for students and others who are 27 or younger. The card has an initial price of about 50 Euros. But once you pay that, you get deals on every single use of the train system for the month you’re in the Loire Valley and also any VisionQUEST trips you make that originate at a French train station.  But will this pay off?  That depends, but the likely answer is yes.  How?



Doing the Math: is it a deal?

Each trip you make to Tours will likely come with a 40% discount, ditto any trips you make to Paris on your own.  And for VisionQUEST, you will get a 25% discount on any trains you might take from France to Germany, Spain, Italy or Switzerland.  The savings will be more than the purchase price of the card.



The Psychological Benefits: Return on Investment

The final reason to look at one of these cards is that getting one will likely encourage you to use the fabulous French trains more rather than less.  Done with Village classes early and want to scoot up to Orleans to see that historic city with a massive population of college students?  If you’ve got the card the trip will be cheap and easy. And you’ll be more likely to make the trip if you’ve invested in the card.

Timing: when to make your deal?

You may think: well let me wait a week or so and maybe go get your discount card then? Procrastination isn’t your friend when a deal is involved. Because the sooner you jump on a deal, the sooner you’re taking advantage of whatever savings you get from the deal.  Our advice: if the discount train card makes sense for you, buy it your first week in France and then take full advantage of your savings on all train trips.



Montrichard: Where the Village Journey Begins

Learn to breathe in a small town

The spring comes to the Loire Valley in its own blankets of florid magic.  The flowers, budding vineyards and manicured vegetable gardens all conspire to make each patch of land look more lovely than the last one.  And if the overall topography says “tres belle!” in the pristine French accent that’s said to be a trademark of this part of France, the real gorgeousness of this time is seen best in the market towns that dot the rivers Cher and Loire as they snake their way from the center of France to the sea.  Our home in the Loire Valley, Montrichard, is one of these towns.

Students who are nervous at first about what being in Europe will feel like don’t stay that way for long once they take a day to wander through Montrichard, a town that was already ancient before Columbus sailed to the Americas.   A place of just 3500 souls, Montrichard still boasts a full experience of “world citizenship” that American places far larger cannot.


A Little Global Gateway

This claim to global belonging is not simply because there’s an 11th century Castle at the heart of so small a town.  Nor is it because one of the greatest battles in the history of Medieval Europe was fought right by here 1000 years ago.  Also beyond the scope of this claim is the fact that Montrichard boasts an international spirit from its river to its historic heights, even offering a helpful road sign in German indicating that the drive to its sister city in Germany is just a 1000 plus kilometers away.

The place has global greatness because of much smaller things.  Those include the presence of a train station at its heart, from which you can travel to the Tours in 25 minutes for dinner or to CDG airport to make an early afternoon flight to anywhere in the world.  Or to central Paris in less than 90 minutes.  And the fact that there are pizza joints, a kebab shop, fine restaurants and seasonally perfect oysters to be found just blocks from where our program lives in this city.



It’s also a global gateway because of the privilege everyone here gives to local products whose greatness is such that the whole world wants to eat what the Friday morning market sells to our students and their neighbors. Chevre that’s known all around Paris at the finest restaurants is ours on the cheap, right in town.  And sparking wine that’s uncorked from Beijing to New Orleans in honor of weddings and other celebrations? It’s made a short walk from our program’s home at places like the Monmousseau and Paul Buisse caves.



Your First Home Abroad

Our program goes on from its start to the very greatest cities of Europe if not the whole world.  And our students gain the confidence and competence to manage themselves and their academic learning all along the way. And yet for most of our students when November comes to an end, there’s always a poignant looking back to their first home in Europe and how it felt to wander those small stone streets. And hunt down the perfect croissant.  Before walking across the Cher and starting a hike to the next town or two.  Just because that’s what one does in the European world of a market town like Montrichard.


Where time hasn’t stood still, but where all of us who go to live there with The Village can stand still.  And mindfully absorb the fact that literally scores of centuries have been lived here in sometimes brutal and sometimes highly civilized ways