23 May 2020

My Year Abroad in Capbreton

Jordan Day is a third-year student studying BA French and History. He has just returned from his third Year Abroad, which he spent teaching in a small coastal village in France. He also conducted historical fieldwork.

student during Year Abroad

Hi everyone! My name is Jordan Day and I’m a third-year student studying BA French and History at the University of Sheffield. I’ve written this article for you all to give you a taste of the exciting experiences you could have studying at Sheffield!

During your third year as a languages student you’ll get to go on a Year Abroad. I’ve just been on mine in Capbreton, a small seaside town on the south-west coast of France where I taught in a local school as a British Council language assistant. As someone who’s lived abroad before in Italy and the Netherlands my expectations for my year abroad were high, and it definitely didn’t disappoint.

The area I lived in was stunning, as I lived minutes away from beaches known for WWII-era bunkers which lie scattered across the sand and high waves which helped Capbreton become known as the surfing capital of France. Just a short bus journey away are two major French cities, Bayonne and Biarritz, which are a picturesque medieval cathedral city and a lush seaside resort respectively. Also, I was close enough to the Spanish border for me to easily visit the Spanish city of Donostia-San Sebastián, renowned as a gastronomic hub. These fascinating places inspired me to write about them for my year abroad research project, a form of assessment for the year abroad.

World War II bunkers on the beach near Capbreton

For my research project I wanted to engage myself in the local area, and I noticed that around Capbreton I could see a mix of two local languages and cultures, Basque and Gascon: I found a pelota court with a Basque symbol emblazoned on its walls, architecture in a Basco-Gascon style, and a Basque-language concert nearby. I set out to find out why this cultural blend existed here by learning about Basque and Gascon culture.

For my research project I wanted to engage myself in the local area, and I noticed that around Capbreton I could see a mix of two local languages and cultures, Basque and Gascon.

Jordan Day

BA Dual Honours French and History

My research took me to the most unexpected places, such as an LGBT+ association in nearby Dax which embraces Gascon language and culture whilst also making it relevant to today, and a local museum where I learnt of a river that used to flow through Capbreton that diverted away from the town due to an intense rivalry between Capbreton and Bayonne, both Gascon and Basque cities respectively. My project allowed me to interact with locals of every background, from historians to rugby players, barmen to record collectors, and many more.

I hope that reading about my experiences has convinced you all that a languages and cultures degree at Sheffield is very exciting and that you have a lot to look forward to in the coming years. I hope to see you all in September!

The School has adapted the assessment of the Year Abroad in line with the University's no detriment policy to make sure students are not negatively affected by the corona crisis.

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