This summer, two students from the Bridge to Engineering Success at Tufts (BEST) program are blogging 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, a wide variety of optional outdoor activities, weekly hikes into the Alps, field trips, and organized events offer each student the opportunity to explore the unique Haute-Savoie region of France.
By Michelle Chan
The view from Michelle’s bus stop to Talloires. Napoleon’s Hat is visible in the top right.
Even in week five of the program, friends here still ask me, “Where is Veyrier-du-Lac?” Talloires is a village and Annecy is a small city. The bus route spans eight nauseatingly bumpy miles between the two, while Veyrier-du-Lac, my home, marks roughly a midpoint. Even though the bus passes Veyrier every day, you might miss it if you blink. Here, everything seems tiny.
Yet small is hardly synonymous with dull. Even though I walked through most of the streets already, each scene is full of rich details worthy of notice. By the lake, glistening water laps the banks of the shore from gravitational pulls. Turning around, a little mountain peak hovers over houses. Locals call it “Napoleon’s Hat,” perhaps because of its triangular shape.
Walking around, plants grow everywhere. Satisfyingly, I can identify some species that were learned on weekly Monday field trips in my Flowers of the Alps class. Many of them look similar at first sight, but spending a few more seconds in observation distinguishes details that set the species apart.
In case I want to look even closer, I can use the loupe hanging on a string around my neck to magnify a flower. The tiny parts reveal information that I typically overlook. The ovary, once pollinated, begins growing into what we may recognize to be fruit. Through the lens, I see fruit so unripe that, well, they aren’t even considered fruit yet.
To be honest, I barely use the loupe on my walks, but I also rarely take it off. Maybe I keep it on when I go to bed for efficiency’s sake, so that I have it when I need it. Or maybe I wear it as a constant reminder to find fascination with the details of my everyday surroundings.
Michelle Chan is a rising sophomore from Eugene, Oregon, majoring in computer engineering.