Tufts in Talloires: Zaila Foster

As the Tufts in Talloires program comes to a close, Zaila Foster, E20, looks back on the new experiences she had while studying abroad this summer.
Tufts students in the French Alps.
Tufts students exploring the French Alps. Photo courtesy of Zaila Foster.

This summer, three students from the Bridge to Engineering Success at Tufts (BEST) program shared their experiences from Tufts in Talloires, a six-week summer program that offers students a dynamic group of courses taught by Tufts faculty in Talloires, France. In addition to coursework, students had the opportunity to explore the unique Haute-Savoie region of France through a wide variety of optional outdoor activities, weekly hikes into the Alps, field trips, and organized events. 

By Zaila Foster

When I received my admissions letter from Tufts University last year, I knew that I had opened a floodgate of opportunities. But the incredible experience I would have with Tufts in Talloires was definitely not something I was picturing at the time.

TRAVEL: I’ve been able to travel to Milan, Paris, and Geneva in the past six weeks and I think Paris has become my favorite city. My words are falling short when it comes to explaining how it felt to finally see things I’ve heard about for my entire life, like the Eiffel Tower, the Mona Lisa, and Monet’s Water Lilies.

HOST FAMILY: Living with a host family has been one of my favorite experiences. It was so interesting to learn about some of their family traditions. I feel like I learned something new at dinner every night. My host mom would always take the time to explain each new dish she cooked and why it was important to her. I also really appreciated these dinners because, before France, I couldn't remember the last time I sat down to eat a meal for the sole purpose of enjoying the food.

HIKE: I’ve lived in cities my entire life and my mom isn't the biggest fan of the great outdoors. The closest thing I’d done to hiking was walking up Packard Avenue to Hill Hall. However, since I’ve been in France, I’ve gone hiking every week. “You’ll never beat the mountain” is a lesson I’ve learned a few more times than I would’ve liked, either by tripping on or falling off the trail. But the breathtaking views I saw at the top always made the journey worth it. It is a very humbling experience to be reminded of how small I actually am as I climbed mountains thousands of meters high.

Overall, I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to travel to Talloires, France with Tufts. Travelling leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller, and I can’t wait to share my stories with the people back in America who helped me get here.

Zaila Foster is a rising sophomore from Staten Island, New York, majoring in engineering psychology.