I am very proud to announce that I have made it 40 days and 40 nights abroad! A very minor accomplishment, but I am proud nonetheless.
Before heading off to Rennes, France for my Union term abroad this Fall, I was honestly kind of bummed. I had made a ton of new friends during one of the best summers of my life in the Adirondack Mountains, and I wasn’t ready to leave all of that behind for a 4 month Eurotrip (I was crazy to be so down, right?!). To make matters worse, I had spent 2 of my last nights in America at Union with some friends that had moved in early. Big mistake. I saw friends that I hadn’t seen all summer, and was reminded how fun the social life at Union is. It dawned on me that I wouldn’t be able to experience this again until JANUARY 2014. 2014!!!
When I got to France, I spent the first few days exploring Paris, and found the huge city completely overwhelming. By the time I got to Rennes, where I would be living with a host family for the next four months, I was very homesick and very nervous. It took about 5 days in Rennes for me to forget everything that I missed in the states. I quickly got settled in with my host family, discovered how adorable Rennes is, and became close friends with the other 9 Union students that are on the program with me, and now I couldn’t be happier!
Now, after 40 days in Rennes, I’m starting to dread going home! Even though I have about 2 and a half months left, I’m sad that I will have to leave at the end of the semester and am already planning visits back to France! I thought I’d give you guys a little info about my daily experience abroad….
So every morning my host family sets up the breakfast table for me. I usually get up a little later than them but they get out everything they know I like to eat for breakfast so it’s all ready for me….maybe I should take some notes for my real mom (just kidding. kind of.). I then take the metro to The University of Rennes 2 across town. The whole commute takes about 25 minutes which is slightly longer than walking from West Dining Hall breakfast to the Wold Building for class, but I can’t complain. Here in Rennes, I’m taking EIGHT (8) classes (almost three times the amount classes I’m used to taking at Union!) that each meet only once a week for two hours, so it’s not as bad as it seems. One of my classes is taught by the Union professor, Charles Batson, who is accompanying our group in France for the term. Did I mention that all my classes are in French? Yes, I’m taking things like history and literature…in french. What makes it a little easier is that we are a part of the University’s international program, so the students in our classes are from all over the world and are all learning french just like me!
When I’m not in class, I spend a lot of time with my french family or with other students. We often study and socialize in a local park or grab some lunch at a café. Every night I sit down for a family dinner with my french parents, and sometimes their 25 year old daughter and 32 year old son who live close by. The social life in Rennes is awesome because there are over 36,000 students at Rennes’ two universities, so there are plenty of young people to interact with! There’s something to do every night of the week. I usually go to ‘English Night’ every Monday at a local bar called O’Connels, Fridays are big nights for dance clubs, and Thursdays are the general student bar night. In the center of town there is a street called Rue de Saint Michel which is conveniently nicknamed ‘Rue de la Soif’ or ‘Street of the thirst’ where the majority of the bars are located and is littered with students on any given night of the week. I have found that it’s a great way to make some international friends and practice my french at the same time!
Weekends are a great time to travel. So far we have had a few group excursions including: castles, zoos, the beaches of Normandy, the world’s greatest crêperie, and the most western part of France (‘the end of the earth’)! A couple other students and I also took a weekend to visit Germany and experience the culture by attending a festival called Oktoberfest. Ever heard of it? This upcoming weekend will be my first weekend in Rennes in about a month! I’m looking forward to exploring the town a little more and meeting new locals!
I am so ecstatic to say that after 40 days abroad, I am having the greatest time of my life and wouldn’t trade it for the world. While I am sad at times about missing out on things at Union, I realize that I’ve already spent 6 awesome terms there, and I still have 5 more waiting for me when I get back! Going abroad is an amazing experience, and I strongly encourage everyone to take advantage of Union’s abroad programs and see the world!