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Single female, 30's, holiday idea

Sydney
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Single female, 30's, holiday idea

Hi everyone,

I'm thinking of organising a holiday for about 3 weeks in June/July to Europe.

I'm tossing up between two ideas.

One is going to a French language school for a few weeks (I've studied French for a year or so before, but need some improvement!) where I have class in the morning and free afternoons for sight seeing etc.

The other is booking a trip on an organised tour. I'd definitely like it to involve part of the south of France, but it could include some other parts of Europe too.

I'm in my mid 30's and single, and not a huge fan of travelling alone, as I can get quite anxious and am not necessarily that outgoing person who can make friends wherever they go. It's not an option at the moment to travel with anyone else. Part of what stresses me about a trip like this is being on my own such a long way from home, but I would like to beat some of this anxiety and prove to myself that I can do it (and not just survive but enjoy it too!). It's crazy because when I was younger I did quite a bit of travel on my own.

In terms of the trips I am looking at the language school would be great but I'm not sure how easily I will make friends there to do things with in the afternoons and evenings. I don't need someone to hang out with all the time but three weeks could be quite lonely without company. Also without others to motivate me I can be a bit reluctant to 'bother' going out to explore as much as I might otherwise.

An organised tour of somewhere could be good but then you are bound to their itinerary. Also I don't want to do something like contiki where everyone is very young and wants to get drunk and party all the time, nor do I want to join a tour with retirees. Maybe people have recommendations for groups that would have a similar age bracket to me?

Any thoughts or advice on the above would be appreciated.

Penny

Amsterdam, The...
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1. Re: Single female, 30's, holiday idea

Salut,

I did an Italian language course in Rome for 4 weeks once, and also studied Spanish (and had a private teacher in Spain for a week). And I did a semester in France in a business college. My experience is: you learn most, and fastest, if you hang out with locals.

The language course idea sounds nice. Lessons are usually only 3 or 4 hours a day, plus of course there is homework. I'd recommend not hanging out with your classmates too much (because you will end up speaking English), but meeting French people and practicing your French. Now, the French in general are not known for their outgoing nature and willingness to hang out with foreigners... but there are a few who like it! :-) I would use the forums and 'events' options in the website www.couchsurfing.org , which in fact I have done for New York City, and Portugal, and have met interesting and fun locals through there who were happy to spend time together, show me some of their city, accept my dinner invitation, go out, etc. (The other way around I also sometimes hang out with travelers who visit my home town Amsterdam.)

There are specific forums in Couchsurfing for a location, but also for interests, for example cycling, gay forums etc.

As for the events, there are meet-ups that people post, but you can also create your own, for example a picnic or a museum visit or whatever, and invite people to join.

And just to be clear: you don't need to actually sleep in the house of a local to use the other features of the Couchsurfing website. It's also about meeting up with people.

Some other tips for learning a language faster:

- Read comic books. The images help you understand the context. Children's books can also be a great start. Don't look up every single word, keep reading so long as you understand the gist of the story. You will discover that you learn new words automatically just by coming across them in the same context over and over.

- Watch tv, including soap operas you already know, for example Sex and the City dubbed in French. Repeat words and pronounciation you hear out loud.

- Before you go, watch a few French movies; if possible with French subtitling on (not English). For example Amélie is a nice movie.

- Write down words you want to learn (French words you don't understand, but also the words you want to say but don't know in French) and look them up once a day, write down the translations, study them, try to use them when speaking with people.

Bonne chance et amuse-toi bien!

Cecilia

Edited: 20 May 2014, 11:37
kent
Destination Expert
for Kent, Solo Travel
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2. Re: Single female, 30's, holiday idea

Cecile has ( as usual!) provided some excellent advice. I'd also stress that taking an organised tour may limit your opportunity to progress with language skills. You'd just end up speaking in English with other people in the group.... and be stuck with a set itinerary.This is OK if it's what you want, but frustrating if it isn't.

A few suggestions...... travelling around France is relatively easy due to the excellent rail network. So you could put your own package together and just stay in places you are really interested in. The website www.seat61.com could help you plan a train route.

For the south of France, Nice is an excellent destination, loads to see and do, and has the advantage of very short, cheap and scenic train links to Cannes, Menton, Antibes. Small family run B & B's are more welcoming than hotels, and I found people unfailingly polite when I've murdered their language!

The tourist industry in France is very well developed, so you could take day tours, night tours, 2 and 3 mini breaks, all arranged locally. There are reviews of tours as well as accommodation, and things to do, in the individual destination forums, here in Trip Advisor.

Some local tours are specifically focused on special interests, like cooking, vineyard visits, historical walking tours. These tours tend to attract a much wider group of travellers, some of whom may also be French!

3. Re: Single female, 30's, holiday idea

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