A quick note before starting: last week my phone broke and I lost all the photos I had taken up until that point. The only ones I still have are ones I sent to other people beforehand that they were able to send back to me, but this is a tiny percentage of what I took. Thus, I do not have any pictures with my honors dragon now, but I promise he is with me and, as far as I can tell, is having a good time in France.
|A picture of Parc du Thabor located in Rennes|
|A picture taken in Rennes most well-known art museum, the Musée des Beaux Arts de Rennes|
Bonjour à tous! My name is Alex Williams and I am a senior geography major with a music minor, currently studying at the University of Rennes 2 in Rennes, France for the fall 2019 semester. While the experience thus far has been extremely positive, I did have my initial hesitations before and when arriving. Before coming to Rennes, I had never been outside of North America before in my life, nor had I ever been in a country where the primary language was not English. Although I did know a little French from taking classes in high school and university, it did not help ease my mind much knowing that I would be in the midst of native speakers who would probably know I was not a native speaker the second I opened my mouth. Nevertheless, I was also eager to be able to experience a new country and become familiar with a culture different from my own.
When I first arrived to Rennes 2, I was fresh off of an 8-hour plane ride and a 2-hour train ride, and in my exhaustion, I was unable to find the residence building in which I was to make my home for the next 4 months. In my desperation, I worked up the courage to ask a French student if he knew where I might be able to find the building I was meant to be in. Right away any notion of French people being rude or snobby (which is a stereotype I had heard of before coming) was immediately disproven for me. Not only did the student show me on a map where my building was, but he also offered to help carry my bags on the way there. As a first impression, this made me feel a lot better, however once I was alone in my room I couldn’t help but feel a little homesick already for my friends, family, and (perhaps most importantly) bed back home.
|In class with two of my international friends, Kaito from Japan (who is holding the camera) and Neza from Afghanistan (who is in the middle)|
|A picture taken in Paris of the Seine with the Eiffel Tower in the background|
Regardless, I pressed onward with my journey, and as time went by and I began to settle into life in France. At first, even little things like ordering at a restaurant could be a bit nerve wracking, and I’d often have French people who knew English switch to speaking English after they quickly realized my skills were not the best. However, I was exposed to the language and culture more, I slowly found my confidence building, and now I am able to maintain communication in French in most any situation I find myself in.
While being exposed to French culture has been great and I have been able to eat bread to my heart's content, perhaps the best thing about being here has been the people I have met. On top of meeting native French people who have taught me some of the French way of life, I have also met many international students as well. I have gotten to know people from all over the world, ranging from Ghana to Japan to Italy to Brazil and so on. Due to this, I have been able to learn about little things about all sorts of cultures that are foreign to me, not just that of France. With the international friends, I have made I have also been able to find people with which to share the experience of living in a whole new country, and it has easily been one of the best things about studying abroad.
In my time in Rennes so far, I have been able to become familiar with many things about France, ranging from their cuisine to the way the university system works. However, I still feel I have a lot to experience before returning home, and I hope that in the 5 weeks I have remaining here, I can squeeze in as much as I can. Regardless, this experience has already solidified itself as being one of the most memorable in my life, and I am eager to see what the last stretch has in store.