Participating in an Activity in Rennes: How To

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Liberal Arts

Authored By:

CIEE Rennes

Congratulations! You’ve made it to France! But now what…you’re starting to get settled into a routine with school and your program, and you have a bit more free time than you thought you’d have. There’s luckily so much out there in which you can become involved! 

Extra-curricular activities have always been a big part of my routine and how I stay afloat amongst school work and other stressors. Finding activities that excite me help me to stay motivated, find new friends, and put my French into practice. By the end of the second month in Rennes, my after-school schedule looked like this:

Monday: Dance class
Tuesday: Choir workshop at the host institution 
Wednesday: Volunteering (lead english clubs) 
Thursday: Babysitting and Yoga
Friday: Volunteering at a community garden 

First of all, I want you to keep in mind that it is absolutely not necessary to have an activity for every day. Many of my friends in CIEE felt productive by just having their evenings open or were busy enough with their internship/work load. I recommend keeping your weekends open for excursions, homework, friends, and relaxing. So, here are some steps and advice about how to get started with finding activities in Rennes.

Step 1: Make a list of activities/extracurriculars you already do at home that you might want to
transfer over to your life in France.
I’m a tap dancer, singer, and someone who gets depressed if I don’t exercise…SO, I
knew I wanted to keep these things up in Rennes. Luckily, I was able to find an outlet for all of
these things!

Step 2: Get acquainted with your academic schedule first.
CIEE has a two-week preprogram, which is super helpful for getting adjusted and bonding with your group. During this period, feel free to do some research on activities, but I wouldn’t recommend committing to anything (or at least, anything you have to pay for) until after you know your official class schedule at the host institution. Don’t be shy to give yourself a week or two in case your schedule changes or you have to change levels–it happened to me. By the time I started classes, however, I’d already found a studio for dance and yoga.

Step 3: Do some research!
Your program directors will provide you with some recommendations, but some things you’re going to have to look for on your own. Fairly early on after I got to Rennes, I was able to find my dance studio simply by searching, “tap dance in Rennes” on Google. I came across two good options, and decided to send an email to the studio. I was sent a response the same day and went in the next week–it was so easy! An example email can look like this:

Chèr.e madame/monsieur,
Je suis étudiant.e à l’étranger jusqu'à _______. Pendant mon semestre à Rennes, je
m'intéresse beaucoup à vos cours de claquettes. Est-ce que c’est possible d’essayer une séance ?

Feel free to add any other questions or comments you might have, but you should be able to find class times and prices on the websites you find. There are often student rates available, so take advantage of those, and don’t hesitate to ask if there’s a student rate not listed on the site.

Step 4: Take advantage of the opportunities at the host institution!
The host institution has a number of opportunities available at the school (choir, theater, music,
journalism, translation, cinema…). It’s an easy and free way to get involved and continue a
hobby you love.

Step 5: GO
Going to the activity for the first time is always my least favorite part. I have to remind myself that after the first time, it isn’t new anymore, and it only gets easier. The dance, yoga, and babysitting are all endeavors I did on my own, and it’s totally possible! I enjoyed the independence it gave me and the fact that I could have a few things for myself. If you have too much anxiety or would rather do it with a friend, that’s also a great way to get involved. If you get nervous about specific vocab related to your activity, feel free to research some words/expressions (yoga vocab, gardening vocab, etc.).

My Recommendations:

If you’re also into tap dance, there are many dance studios around Rennes with
many types of genres (Street dance, Lyrical, and Afrostyle). I was also super fortunate to find my babysitting job through one of my classmates in the class who had kids and wanted them to practice their english! You never know what connection you might get out of an experience.

For yoga, pilates, barre, crossfit, etc., you may want to join one of the many clubs in Rennes.

Volunteering at a community garden is such a fun and wholesome volunteer experience! Getting to connect with nature at the end of the week is really refreshing. I enjoyed doing this one with a friend and I
was able to chat with the locals who volunteer and make some french friends!

if you miss English, you may want to join and lead one of the conversation clubs. I lead the middle-school english club with another exchange high-schooler from the US, and we had a blast. There are also opportunities here to participate in a French-speaking club!

I recommend always saying “oui!” to opportunities when they arise and if you have the
time. Give yourself time to relax and travel, but it’s never a bad idea to participate in the host institution 
excursions/opportunities and discover fun ways to spend your time in Rennes!

Last but not least, I want to emphasize that having activities to do, especially ones like
yoga and tap, are forms of self-care for me. If having too many activities is a source of stress,
recognize that and prioritize a schedule that will make you feel the best. 

Moving to another country is an overwhelming experience, and there were many times where I too felt
overwhelmed, homesick, depressed–you name it. Hold on to what makes you feel good and use
that to guide you through your experience! And if you don’t participate in activities in the
beginning, it’s never too late to start ! 

Mia Poletti

St. Olaf College


Liberal Arts Spring 2023