It’s hard to believe that we’ve only been in France for a little over 4 weeks, because everything is already starting to fall into a routine. We’ve a hectic first few days and weeks spent exploring Paris and Rennes, meeting our host families, and learning more about the program we’ll be a part of for the next semester, or in my case, the year. But, everything is starting to settle more into routine now that classes at Rennes 2 have started and we’re transitioning more into life as an international student at CIREFE instead of a group of Americans studying in Rennes with CIEE. Don’t get me wrong, we still see each other, but we aren’t together as a big group sitting in informational meetings or a preliminary language course anymore. Don’t get me wrong, those things were definitely helpful, but I have to say, I’m glad to be back to a somewhat normal college-student routine of classes, homework and trying to throw a social life in there somewhere.
I have to say I really lucked out this semester classes-wise. At CIREFE they place you into a level which is then split into a couple different sections. For example, I placed into C1 before arriving in Rennes, but more specifically I’m in C1-A which is how they split up the much larger group for classes. Based off of the course offerings and time slots for this level and group, my earliest class is at 10:45, which I am loving! Normally, I wake up around 9:30 to get ready and make sure I’ve had time to eat or do some work before class. Most days, my first class isn’t until 1:45 so I tend to stay in bed a bit longer than I probably should.
As for breakfast, this is something that really threw me off when I first got to Rennes. Growing up in a country that really drills the idea into our minds that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” really had me in for a shock when I got here and breakfast is simply a little something to tide you over until the big meal, which is lunch. Also, I’m a huge fan of a good yogurt with granola and fruit for breakfast, but I was shocked to find out that yogurt is more of a dessert here. But nonetheless, I’m starting to get more used to the French way of eating and have a small bowl of cereal or toast with jam for breakfast in the mornings before heading off to class or wherever I need to go that day.
While we were in our preliminary language course, my morning commute was my favorite part of the day. My host family’s apartment is only a five minute walk from Parc du Thabor, so I got to start every day with a walk through the park on my way to class. Now that classes are at Rennes 2, I walk to the metro station (République) and have about a 10 minute train ride to class. When I don’t have class in the morning, I like to get out and walk around Centre-Ville for a little bit.
Normally, I buy a sandwich to eat for lunch, much to the dismay of my host mom who says that sandwiches aren’t a full meal. Brioche Dorée has quickly become a staple in the lunchtime routine for me and a few other CIEE students, but the food at the RU -restaurant universitaire- is really good (and cheap) too and so much better than college food in the United States.
After lunch, I typically have a class or two to go to. I’m not going to lie, classes here are kind of long and definitely something I’m still getting used to. At my University, at least, it’s rare to have a class for longer than an hour and a half. Something about the extra half hour here has been getting to me. That being said, all of my classes have been really interesting and the professors here at CIREFE are really good too! Depending on what time we finish classes for the day, sometimes my friend Katie and I will walk around Parc du Thabor or do work there before heading home for the night. I have to say, the park is definitely one of my favorite parts of Rennes so far.
I’m normally the first one home after classes. Both of my host parents work so they get home a bit later. My host mom, Claudine, has been teaching me how to cook some new things since I’ve been here. I’m honestly a terrible cook, so I think my mom will be really impressed with me when I get back to the States. While I’m definitely starting to help more and more with the cooking, my main role is to set the table before everything is done cooking. My host parents and I eat dinner together just about every night, talking about our days, current events, and even politics. That was definitely something to get used to as politics are quite the taboo subject at home.
After dinner, I help clean up and we normally will watch something on TV (great practice for listening comprehension) all together. I always bring my water bottle with me (just your average 32 oz Nalgene) and my host dad never fails to make a comment about how “us Americans” always have the biggest water bottles. Honestly, I’m just convinced that the French don’t need as much water because I rarely see them drink more than a small glass. On nights that I have a lot of work to do, I tend to skip the TV portion of the evening and head back to my room to finish up whatever I was working on before dinner before heading to bed.
Even though the days can be crazy hectic and long her in Rennes, I’m so glad I decided to come and immerse myself in the language and the culture here. And I’m so happy that I chose to stay for the year and continue these experiences until May.