This semester I’m living with a French host family, which consists of the parents and their two kids, aged 15 and 18, as well as another student who is my age. In the United states, I live with my parents, and during the school year I live in a dorm with three of my friends on my college campus. So, living with a host family was definitely stepping out of my comfort zone. It took me the first couple of weeks to get used to life in Rennes, but I eventually found a routine that worked for me.
Every morning I wake up and get ready for class, and then I go downstairs and eat breakfast. My host mom always leaves food out on the table for us, such as cereal, croissants, and pain au chocolat, so I usually eat breakfast and then head to the bus stop. The bus stop is about a five-minute walk from my host family’s house, and then I get off the bus after about fifteen minutes to take the metro the rest of the way to the university, which usually takes about ten minutes. Monday through Wednesday I arrive at the university by 8:30 for my first class, and Thursday and Friday my first class starts at 10:45. My classes are all through CIREFE at Université Rennes 2, which is a school for international students learning French, and they’re divided into levels based on our French skills. Each of my classes is two hours, with the exception of two courses that are only one hour. Between my courses, I have at least a 15-minute break, and between 12:45 and 1:45 I have an hour break for lunch.
This was definitely an adjustment, because at home I go to a fairly small college where I only need about five minutes to walk to class. Plus, my classes at home are just one hour, whereas my classes here are almost all two hours, and they’re taught entirely in French. Because of this, I had trouble sitting in the same class for two full hours at the start of the semester. Now, though, I am used to these longer classes, and I’m sure they will make courses at my college at home feel much shorter.
I usually meet some of my friends from my program, and then we go to the university restaurant together. Every day the university serves different plates that come with two sides, such as cheese, yogurt, or fruit. Eating at the university restaurant is fun, because this is really the only time we see French students, so it’s interesting to hear the different words or phrases that they use regularly.
After lunch I usually have one or two courses, but Tuesdays I finish at 10:30. After my courses, I take the metro back to the bus, and then I take the bus home. I don’t usually have very much homework, but because dinner tends to be later in France than in the US, I am able to get most of my homework finished before dinner. We eat together between 7:30-8:00, which took a while to adapt to because I was so used to eating dinner no later than 6:00 at home. At dinner, my family always has the news on, and I enjoy watching it to see what’s going on throughout France. We usually talk for a while after dinner, and after I go back to my room to finish my homework, or sometimes I watch Netflix or talk to my family or friends on the phone.
Another part of life in France I had to adapt to was meal times. At home, my family usually eats around 5:30 or 6:00, and when I’m at school I usually eat dinner after track practice, which is typically around 6:00. When I’m at home, I usually eat dinner and then start my homework. In France, though, we eat dinner rather late compared to what I’m used to, so I had to adapt my schedule and space out doing my homework between my time before and after dinner.
Although I have a fairly regular schedule that I follow during the week, I enjoy traveling or going out in Rennes with my friends on the weekends. In Rennes, there are a number of things to visit during the weekends. During the journée du patrimoine, different tours throughout Rennes, such as the parliament building and the opera, were free. So, my friends and I took advantage of it and toured these buildings. My friends and I even took a macaroon making class together! My favorite thing I did in Rennes, though, was visit the Christmas markets set up throughout different parts of the city. These markets were decorated with lights and had different stands with gifts and food, and there was even an ice skating rink where my friends and I went skating.
Likewise, traveling while abroad was definitely something I was interested in. Throughout the semester, I have made friends in my program with whom I’ve traveled to Belgium, Italy, and Germany. In addition, I have also travelled to Greece, the Netherlands, and England with some friends from my university at home who are abroad as well. These trips were rather convenient to go on, because I could take an hour flight and end up in another country. While travelling to these other countries, I was able to learn about so many different cultures and I’m so glad that I took advantage of these opportunities.
Washington & Jefferson College