Game face in France

BEST scholar and electrical engineering major Alejandro Colina-Valeri got swept up in soccer fandom in Lyon, France as part of his experience in the Tufts in Talloires program.
A young man with a blue and red scarf tied around his head poses in front of a soccer stadium
Photo courtesy of Alejandro Colina-Valeri

This summer, rising sophomore Alejandro Colina-Valeri studied abroad in Talloires, France. Alejandro is an electrical engineering major and a scholar in the Bridge to Engineering Success at Tufts (BEST) program. He blogged about his experiences in Talloires during the summer of 2018.

By Alejandro Colina-Valeri, E21


When I first stepped out of the Geneva airport, my mind was racing with multiple questions and feelings. What does Talloires look like? Will my host family like me? How popular is soccer around here? A myriad of questions was going through my mind, showcasing my anxiety about being in France for the first time.

My experience here in France has been unforgettable, especially because the views of the Alps in Talloires remind me of my hometown, Merida, Venezuela. Flowers and trees everywhere around you, mountains higher than you could imagine with tops full of snow, a beautiful lake right nearby, calling to you in the super warm days. The nature in Talloires reminds you of how beautiful the world can be.

Also, I am lucky to explore the city of Annecy and its canals, since my host family lives there. They are the best family I could ever ask for, and I have a fantastic roommate who I can share my experiences with. We all do a lot of activities together, such as kayaking around the lake, playing soccer at night, or simply just going out to eat delicious ice cream. Out of all the activities we have done together, my favorite one was when we went to visit Lyon for the day.

Lyon is a gorgeous city just an hour and a half away from Annecy, full of history and rich gastronomy. We spent the whole day walking around Lyon, visiting historic and modern buildings and stopping at a restaurant where I ate my first crème brulee. In the afternoon, we went up through a mountain to reach a famous church called La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière. The view of the town from there was spectacular. You can really see the whole town from there, and far away from it, one can see the Lyon soccer stadium, our last stop before heading back to Annecy.

Luckily, we were able to get tickets all the way in the top seats of the stadium. Even though they were at the top, I could easily see the stadium under me, and I got to see the passion French people have for soccer (or should I say, futbol). What made it more exciting was that for the Lyon Club to qualify for the Champions League, they could neither lose nor tie—they had to win. Since everything was at risk in this game, I saw the emotion of all the fans and their reactions towards the match.

For the first half of the game, Lyon was losing one to nil. I saw how the Lyon fans were quiet, having their eyes fixed on the ball, wishing for their team to make a comeback. Then during the second half when Lyon scored, a glimpse of hope hit all the fans as they regained their strength and started cheering for their team. Each team scored back and forth until the game ended 3-2 in favor of Lyon, who scored in the last 10 minutes. People started jumping with joy and cheering for their team so loudly! Even after the game, fireworks were shot in the air at the stadium to congratulate the team for making it into the Champions League.

Although I could not understand half of the things people were singing, I could not stop smiling. I could see and hear all the laughter around me, making me realize that even though I may not be able to fully understand French, one can still read human expressions and understand human nature. I am only halfway through my French journey, but I can’t wait to see the amazing things I will experience with the rest of my stay.