So, my last entry. I’m writing this on the plane from Paris to Boston, which in itself is a miracle. Two strikes and one tempest threatened to keep me from leaving France this weekend (which I honestly wouldn’t have minded but for the fact that I want to spend some time on campus before heading home). The trains are on strike, massive winds and rain were grounding planes all over the country, and the people who run security at CDG are on strike. Happily, my first plane from Rennes to Paris went smoothly, and though I was an hour late, I was also four hours early for my next flight and had plenty of time to wait in the atrocious lines. The security strike in itself was hilarious – it was like being at a soccer game. Flags, chants, songs, and even some vuvuzelas made it by far the liveliest strike I had seen in a while. While slightly annoying, it was a very typical French experience and made for a funny note to end on. The lines to get past the border police wrapped around the entire terminal (I’d say there were maybe 500+ people waiting). I’m here, though, 3 hours into my flight, and totally miserable to not be at home with my host family. I’m still not sure exactly how I feel about leaving, about arriving, and about how I’ve changed as a person. I might reflect on that at the end of this, but for now I’ll recount all the happenings of the past few weeks.
My last weeks and weekends in France have been non-stop. Wrapping up end-of-year stuff for both of my BC jobs, preparing (at least a little bit) for my 8 final exams, and trying to cram in as much time as possible with my family have made for a whirlwind of a finale to my 5 months abroad.
The week of Thanksgiving was a tough one. The combination of hitting the 4-month mark, coming back from spending the weekend with a friend from BC in London, and not being with my family for a very family-oriented holiday made me homesick for friends and family. CIEE did a great job of foreseeing this, however, as they took us all to a restaurant that had been rented out by the Franco-American Institute of Rennes for a traditional Thanksgiving meal. The kitchen made a delectable Thanksgiving meal (dare I say better than I’ve had in the US?) that made the night a little more bearable. From there on out, things started to look up, as I spent a wonderful weekend hanging out with my family, watching movies, drinking hot chocolate, walking to the Christmas market, and just generally loving life. That weekend, we had a crêpe night, in which we make crêpes on the grill and fill them with sugar, butter, chocolate, or jam instead of eating a regular dinner. Marie-Pierre and I were both required to take a turn at making the crêpes; let’s just say my several attempts at mastery were somewhat successful. My host mom was nice enough to eat the wreckage of my efforts, and we laughed so much that I ruined the crêpes even further than I had already. The weekend also marked my foray into the art of writing a ‘commentaire composé,’ something I had been dreading the entire semester. Each of my 2 literature classes requires one, and they require a very different analytical and writing style than I am used to. They actually ended up going fairly well, which was a nice mark of my progress in the language.
The first weekend in December, Stef came to visit me in Rennes. It was great to be able to show off my city, my family, and my French, and she and I had so much fun together, as always. We walked around the city, hung out and ate with my host family (I translated), and went to Les Transmusicales music festival in Rennes. Les Trans is the second biggest music festival in France, and I went both Thursday with girls from my program and Saturday with Stef. Both nights were wild – we saw some really great bands and groups, met some really interesting people, and even got backstage on Saturday night. A picture of us from Thursday made it into the Ouest-France newspaper! I would have really liked to be able to visit Stef in Sevilla to reverse the experience, but I guess we’ll just have to squeeze that into our Euro-trip next summer J. On Sunday morning, we dragged ourselves to the train station to meet my dad in Paris. We had about 24 hours there but got a considerable amount of walking, sightseeing, art appreciation, and of course eating done. I was glad to see my dad after the bout of homesickness, and he made my trip back to the U.S. considerably easier by taking two big suitcases home for me. Monday afternoon, I took the train back to Rennes, Stef left for Brussels and eventually Prague, and my dad stayed in Paris for a few days before heading back home.
My last two weeks were some of the best of my entire trip here, but my apprehension about leaving also grew steadily. My family and I spent more time together than ever (if that was even possible); my last weekend, we went to the fête foraine, a temporary Christmas amusement park where we did the same ride as Gretchen, Dad and I do each year at the State Fair. We also went to the Christmas Concert at the Rennes Cathedral, where Marie-Pierre sang a beautiful solo with the choir. That weekend, I also went to the CIREFE end-of-year party at a nightclub around the corner from our apartment. I went with friends from class, and it turned out to be one of my best nights out in Rennes. I was thrilled to have found friends from all over the world with whom I could speak only in French – one was from Chile, one from Albania, one from Sweden, and one from Italy! We all agreed that it was “dommage” that we hadn’t started hanging out earlier in the semester, because we had a great time together that night and in the following week at bars, coffee shops, and in class. Class wasn’t always fun, though, as I had to take 8 (!!) exams in a week and a half. They went well for the most part (and in any case I just need to pass my classes to get credits for BC), but each of my literature exams was 4-hours, which should be illegal. Translation proved to be my hardest class, but I’m thinking of doing my senior thesis on the translation of some material I saw while in Normandy – go figure. I talked to a professor at Rennes 2 about it and he gave me some great advice about structuring the topic and about some material to read.
My last few days here can only be described as bittersweet. I savored every part of my daily life for the last time – walking around the city, going to the gym, eating Salardaise potatoes (my mom made several extra batches this week as she knows they’re my favorite), playing cards with my family, going to class, and eating (oh, did I savor the eating). I also went to the movies for the first time since being here and saw “Intouchables,” a French film about the funny relationship between a paralyzed man and his black caretaker. I thought the movie was extremely well-done, and touched on issues of race, gender, love, and humor really nicely. We had a somewhat unpleasant disruption to the week when Marie-Pierre had to go to the hospital for a sudden episode of an ongoing heart condition, and on top of that one of my host grandmothers was undergoing surgery two days before that. When Friday rolled around, though, we were all together again, Fragan included, for one last set of aperitifs, galettes (I’m still full), and cards. My parents also gave me some traditional Breton gifts that I’ll treasure forever (and one of them is a recipe book for crêpes and galettes, so I’ll have to redeem my last crêpe performance over break and next semester). I left them some gifts and a letter in my room, and we talked about what it would be like to come back and about each of our experiences during my stay. I was so happy to hear that they had enjoyed having me just as much as I had enjoyed being a part of their family.
And now I’m at the end. As I said before, I still have no idea what to make of my entire experience these past 5 months. I know that they were without a doubt the most exciting, challenging, fun, and delicious months of my life thus far and that the thought of no longer living with my host family and no longer being a habitant of France and of Europe is unbearable. I’ve been able to appreciate some things about the U.S. much better for my time here, but there is so much that I have discovered about French and European culture and about myself that I don’t think could have been found at home. I won’t lie that I’m nervous to go back to school and home, where others haven’t had the same experiences as me. I strongly believe that everyone who is able to should spend time actually living abroad – it’s nothing like visiting, even for several weeks, and it really has changed my life. I’ll say hesitantly that I’ve grown up a little bit. That’s not to say that I’m more serious – on the contrary, I’ve had more fun and ridiculous times in the past 5 months than I would have thought possible. It’s more that the new perspective I got from living and studying abroad has given me a different way to view my surroundings. I have a new appreciation for discovering other cultures (and not just the French one), and my thirst for travel has only grown. My French has improved beyond recognition, and I’m eager to add another language or two in the upcoming years.
This was also the first time in my life that I think I truly considered what I was doing outside of the classroom to be equally if not more important than I what I was doing during class. Traveling and taking every opportunity to be with my host family almost always won out over studying, which coordinated really well with the fact that my grades for this semester don’t count for my GPA (though I don’t think the damage will be all that bad). I’m still very serious about learning and about studying, and I expect I will fall fairly easily back into the hard work that comes with going to BC, but the smaller homework requirements and my relaxed attitude gave me the freedom to benefit from a world of opportunities I may have otherwise missed.
I have about a million other things to say about this experience and am, at the same time, speechless, so I think this is a good place to end. If you managed to stick it out all the way to the end, thanks for following along with me as I did this, and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season filled with lots of love!
It may appear as if I’ve done nothing but travel since my last post - that’s not entirely inaccurate. I’ve had an incredible month and a half of traveling punctuated by some great moments at home with my never-want-to-leave-them host family. I’ve learned in the past 6 weeks that the best way to get to know someone is by traveling with them - you get to know their best and worst qualities, you get to share some once-in-a-lifetime experiences with them, and you learn all of their quirks, endearing and otherwise. There were definitely some places on these trips I would have loved to share with more than one of you reading this, but I was so lucky to have the travel companions I did.
Scotland and Amsterdam were two places I had never been and was very eager to go. Our week in Scotland was highlighted by a couple of days in the rugged and gorgeous north, where we walked on the beach and went to adorable local restaurants and bars. Glasgow had a cool bar scene as well as some really nice areas to walk around, shop, and eat. We only got to pass through Edinburgh for a day, but it was picturesque and touristy in a perfect way. The food in Scotland overall was heavy but good (think lots of fish and chips). I’d definitely like to make another trip back to visit Loch Lomond and spend some more time in Edinburgh.
Amsterdam was…Amsterdam. We had heard that you shouldn’t go for more than 3 days at a time, which turned out to be more than accurate. I loved the city and all it offered, but by the 3rd day of the windy canal-lined streets, coffeeshops, and cloudy weather, I was feeling like I was in a maze. James and Kelley met Robyn and I there for the weekend (and Hank was there for a night) - it was a lot of fun to have a big group to travel with. We actually managed to work in a fair amount of cultural activity, like the Anne Frank House, the Van Gogh museum, and the obligatory walk through the Red-Light district (though I don’t know if that counts as cultural). On Saturday, James and I spent about 5 hours walking all over the city, which I think was my favorite part of the visit. We got a really good sense of the city, got to make it out to the ocean to walk along the pier there, and caught a couple hours of gorgeous sunshine. By some strange coincidence, we saw about 15 people from BC in different groups all over Amsterdam that weekend. Overall, I thought the Dutch people were lovely, and they were really good at English. On all of these trips, we have realized how lucky we are to be from an English-speaking country - traveling is a lot easier when your native language is spoken, to some extent, almost everywhere.
Number 3 - Austria. After the 5-day weekend I spent there with Stefanie, one of my best friends from high school, I am totally in love with this country. It’s very similar to Germany, but the people are a little more relaxed and the cultural identity was even stronger (at least where we visited). We spent our first night in Vienna, which is a place I definitely want to revisit. We found an adorable and authentic Austrian restaurant down a really tiny little street that ended up being totally delicious (we tried a typical Weiner schnitzel and a boiled beef). The owner was really friendly and chatted with us about his restaurant and about Vienna. He helped us find a bar to go to afterward, the Bermuda Braü (part of the Bermuda Triangle bar area, so called because people get “lost” in it). The next day we walked around the old city of Vienna and took a ride on the city’s oldest ferris wheel (where we were sucked into buying a cheesy but hilarious picture of ourselves looking animatedly out over the Vienna cityscape). That afternoon, we took the train to Salzburg, where we discovered that the Austrians are not night owls - the city was pretty much dead around 7:30pm. We found some more typical food and called it an early night, then spent all of the next day walking around all of Salzburg’s gorgeous streets. In both Vienna and Salzburg, we ate breakfast at the Hotel Sacher, a famous old Austrian hotel, where we tried the original Sacher Torte (and also made a mess as we tried to figure out how to eat soft boiled eggs). In Salzburg, we also visited both of Mozart’s houses and did a fair amount of shopping. We jumped right into the café culture, stopping at about 4 a day to warm up and fuel up. On Sunday, we took a 5-hour Sound of Music tour. We were a little disappointed that the fog kept us from seeing some of the houses used for the Von Trapp home, but we saw some of the other classics and also were taken up into the mountains for some of the most beautiful scenery I think I have ever seen. Our tour guide told us that Austrians are an extremely active people who usually exercise outside every day of the year and are known to still wear the national costume as a part of daily life. It was nice to see a people with that much pride and history - we even saw some locals using a cart pulled by ponies! Later that day, we took an elevator up to the top of a mountain and walked all along the ridge, getting great views of Salzburg and its amazing architecture and natural surroundings. The overnight train to Paris was hilarious, as we ended up popping for the 20 euro upgrade to the sleeper cars (best decision of our lives). Overall, it was an incredible trip with a wonderful friend (who is coming to visit me next week for the big music festival in Rennes!).
This past weekend, I went to London, partially with my host family, and partially with James. I went on Thursday and spent that day and the next sightseeing with my family. Visiting an Anglophone country with a Francophone is, put simply, silly. They spoke French with abandon, regardless of the language being spoken to them, but were actually very admiring of the city and its cuisine. My host mother made me laugh when, after almost getting hit by a typical London taxi, she said (in French), “I don’t want to die in England!” It was funny how the trip ended up being sort of like any other family vacation - 4 or 5 tired people trying to decide what to do, how fast to do it, when to eat, etc. - but all in French. I really felt like a part of the family and loved seeing the big touristy stuff with them, but I was definitely glad to switch over on Friday to the calmer atmosphere of hanging out with James at the LSE for the rest of the weekend. Despite his having lived there for a while, we actually did a fair amount of touristy stuff, all of which I loved. We probably walked a good few miles every day, making some serious tracks across the city and visiting places like St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Tate Modern, the London Eye (by night, which was awe-inspiring), Picadilly Circus, Hyde Park, the Covent Garden area, and more. Probably my favorite of these day activities was the Cabinet War Rooms, the bunkers used by Churchill and his staff to operate during World War II. From a historical perspective, it was fascinating, and we ended up getting somewhat lost in all the cool stuff in there, emerging several hours later (whoops). We quickly learned that Churchill had been a total boss and was one of the funnier people we’d ever encountered. One of my favorites of his quotes is one that he wrote in the margins of a paper he was reading. Whoever had written the paper had made a clumsily constructed sentence in order to avoid finishing his sentence with a preposition. Churchill’s comment was, “this is the kind of grammar up with which I will not put.” This might just be English major humor, but I thought it was hilarious.
Nightlife in London was great. Coming from a much smaller town, it was definitely nice to get back to the kind of big-city bars and clubs that I had been used to in Dublin. On Friday we went to an area called “Shoreditch,” which is the notorious hipster area. We went to a bar and a club there, both of which were actually a really great time (and the club was called the Book Club, so how can you go wrong with that?). Saturday night brought us to Fabric, one of London’s bigger clubs. It was definitely the coolest club set-up I’ve seen, with endless dance floors and lounges and professional DJ shows. The nightlife there is late, though - when we left at 3am, it was had just started to hit its prime. They had DJs scheduled to perform until 8:30 that morning! Throughout the weekend we also went to pubs and restaurants, all of which I thought were wonderful. I’d been told the food in London left something to be desired, but I thought it was some of the best I’d had traveling. I think it may have been the international nature of the city (you’re just as likely to hear a foreign language as you are English) that made the cuisine so good.
So a great 6 weeks, even if I’m a little worse for the wear, health wise. Now it’s time to get (relatively) serious about my studies and start looking forward to finals!
It’s been a busy month - I’m sorry for not having posted in a while, and I hope this won’t be too long! Lots has happened since my last post, and life in Rennes continues to be idyllic. Dad and Muncle (my uncle Will, Dad’s brother) visited Rennes in early September for a few days. We went out for a delicious dinner with my host family in an old medieval prison complex (where Dad had taken me and some friends a few nights earlier), and Dad and I took a day trip to St. Malo, where we walked along the ramparts of the old port city, and ate a delicious lunch complete with Brittany cider.
The next week, I took off for Munich to experience Oktoberfest for the weekend. And experience it we did. I met James in the Munich airport on Friday afternoon and we somehow figured out how to get ourselves to Augsburg, the city outside of Munich where we stayed for the weekend. Our youth hostel, the “Living Cube,” was actually really nice, and we later appreciated the separation from the craziness of the fest. Friday night, we went out for dinner at a random Mexican bar in Augsburg and met my friend Fabian (who I had met a couple weeks earlier in Rennes and who is from Augsburg) for drinks. It was a fun night, but we had to wake up the next morning at 5:30am in order to get into Munich by 8am. Being early birds paid off, however, as we got into the Hofbrau House (the biggest and oldest of the beer halls that had tents there). By some stroke of luck, we found a table of about 10 kids from Notre Dame who were also studying abroad for their junior year in Europe. Athletic rivalries aside, we spent a fun morning among thousands of other people cheering, singing, and drinking. We also met Sean and Mike (from BC) there, who are studying in Barcelona and Rome, respectively. Several liters later, however, the aggressive beer-drinking caught up with us, and we spent the afternoon taking a necessary break from the fest. James and I walked into Marienplatz, one of the main squares of Munich, and ate lunch at a cafe, shopped, and walked around sight-seeing - it was fun to see the places where I had sung Tollite with the choir just two years before. We made a valiant effort at returning to the actual Oktoberfest in the later afternoon but mostly just walked around observing the fest-goers in their various states of disarray. We left in the early evening, feet bleeding, camera missing (just for me), and wearing new clothes (also me). Dinner outside in a big square in Augsburg was a nice way to relax after the craziness of the day. The entire experience is best described as ridiculous. I had a great time and was thrilled to see some BC friends after having been in my external program for so long. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), my camera really did get lost to the fest, so the only pictures I have to document were taken by our Notre Dame friends and have some significant gaps in them - probably for the best. Not surprisingly, several friends of mine that went to Oktoberfest on different weekends had equally fun and equally insane stories to tell.
I’ve taken two other small trips since Munich, one to Cornouaille (SW Brittany) with the CIEE program and the other to Normandy with my family. The trip to Cornouaille was beautiful (and yielded a lot of Christmas presents, lucky for all of you). We went to Pont-Aven, Quimper, Concarneau, and the Pointe du Raz (the Westernmost point in France). We only spent a few hours in each place, so it was kind of just a taste of the area, but each town was charming, and the opportunity to explore a little more of France with my family was much appreciated. Our hostel was right on the coast with a spectacular view of the waves crashing against the rocks.
The trip to Normandy is hard to describe here. My host family took me there for the day last Sunday - we spent about 6 hours at the Caen Memorial Museum and then visited the D-Day beach of Arromanches, stopping to look at a British cemetery on our way back. The museum was extremely well done, with letters, machinery, and countless other artifacts from WWII accompanied by some really striking imagery and information. After having spent most of the day learning about the war and especially about the D-Day landings, the visit to Arromanches (called Gold Beach during the landing operation) was surreal. It would have been hard to imagine the thousands of Allied soldiers running up the beaches against German gunfire, had there not been remnants of the huge fortifications built by both sides left on the beaches and in the water. Although I’ve learned about World War II probably about 5 separate times in school, I’ve never been as interested or as moved by the entire period as I was that day and have been since then. Learning about European history in Europe adds an immediacy that really isn’t possible from the US. Visiting cities and countries that were destroyed by bombing has been (and will continue to be) a gut-wrenching but really authentic way to learn about western history. I think that my trips to Austria and London will take on a new meaning with what I learned this weekend.
Speaking of travel plans, I’ve nailed down the dates of 2 more trips this semester. November 10th through the 14th, Stefanie and I will be traveling together to Vienna and Salzburg, Austria. We’ve already made plans for a Sound of Music tour (that includes tobogganing!) and a Mozart Dinner Concert in Salzburg, and we plan on doing a lot of wandering through both of the cities as well (knowing us, lots of good eating will ensue). The second plan is a trip to London with my host family the next weekend. They’re going on Thursday the 17th to visit my host brother and leaving that Saturday, but as I don’t have class until the next Tuesday, I’m going to stay for another couple of days to hang out with James and see more of the city. When I return on Monday the 21st, I’m going to be giving admissions presentations on BC to two schools in Paris before heading back to Rennes. I’m also scheduled to give a presentation the week before on the way back from Austria - all of these meetings are great news for the admissions program and for International Outreach!
When I’m not traveling, life here continues to surpass my expectations. I absolutely love living in the midst of French culture, and I’m starting to dread the prospect of leaving (though I’m still looking forward to seeing you all, of course!). I joined a gym early in September and have been laughing my way through tons of workout classes like BodyPump, BodyJam, and FAC (the equivalent of Abs, Butt, and Thighs). BodyPump, it turns out, is a power weight-lifting class. A bit of a shock when I went in for my first class, but I’ve actually really come to love it! With all of the classes, I’m eating up the chance to improve my oral comprehension and to further immerse myself in French culture. Classes at school, too, seem to be improving my overall fluency, but nothing has made more of a dramatic difference than spending significant time with my host family. I know I say this every time I post, but I just can’t say enough about how wonderful they are. More and more, I’ve been opting to spend my time at home or at the coast with them, watching movies, chatting, playing cards, eating well, and laughing. This week, when I had an allergic reaction to some seafood, I was a little homesick (missing my usual caretakers aka my parents and/or Kim). My host mom and sister were total champions throughout the whole thing, though, holding my hair back, giving me cold compresses, and helping me calm down. I feel so at home with them - because that’s the case, speaking French has become an easy and natural way of communicating for me. I wouldn’t call myself fluent, but I’ve never felt more at ease using the language in both social and academic situations.
Speaking of academic situations, I’ll update on classes in a later post. I’m going to attach a picture or two of the things I’ve just written about, and as I have a new camera, I’ll be taking lots of pictures of my current trip to Scotland and Amsterdam. I hope this finds everyone well and am still loving hearing from all of you!
6 weeks down, not nearly enough to go. Even though the semester has just started, the time remaining in Europe is seeming all too short. I’m beginning to feel very settled and at home in Rennes and am constantly grateful that I picked this city. Its size is perfect, not too big but still lots to be discovered, and its population is full of enough young people that the nightlife is really fun and vibrant. And the shopping and dining are both quite good!
Our pre-program spanned over the last two weeks and included 4 hours of language classes each day, followed by lectures and information sessions from CIEE on various cultural and academic topics. I found the afternoon lectures (which were from 3 to 5) to be a bit much, but the language courses were very helpful, mostly in terms of listening comprehension. Also, one of my teachers at the language institute gave us what is probably the best explanation of the subjunctive I have yet heard in a classroom. I couldn’t do it justice here, but it had to do with it being a mode of expression that has to do with a person’s being and substance rather than just reality. The same teacher also is going to contact me about the possibility of teaching French classes to refugees as a volunteer for one of many organizations looking for help. I was delighted to hear this opportunity existed, since I wasn’t able to fit the Teaching Practicum class into my schedule.
Speaking of scheduling, it’s a nightmare here. I love the French, but their system of organizing classes and such at the university is an inefficient one. Everything is done on paper, and the schedule of classes for the Fall semester was released last Wednesday, the same day that we enrolled. Having grown accustomed to the BC system (in which I’ve already nailed down my schedule for Spring 2012), it was a little frustrating. All told, however, I ended up with a pretty good schedule. I’m taking 7 or 8 classes (some class times have yet to be finalized, despite classes having started today), and I probably won’t have any class on Mondays. Weekend travels to visit friends will be that much better with a 3-day weekend!
Which leads me to upcoming travel plans. The weekend after this one (that is, Friday September 23rd to the 25th), I will be in Munich for Oktoberfest. I’ll be joined by BC friends, family friends, and even some new friends I just met this weekend who are from Augsburg! I also just made Fall Break plans with my friends Robyn and Kelley (from the CIEE program). Robyn and I are going to stay with her family in Glasgow and Forres, Scotland from October 21st to the 27th, after which we will be meeting Kelley in Amsterdam until the 31st. We’ll be taking a train from Amsterdam to Rennes on Halloween - our costumes might start to get awkward after 6 hours…
Overall, I’ve been really happy about all the people I am meeting. Being a university town, Rennes has been so great for meeting people from all over, something that happened much more easily than I expected. I met a really nice girl (or woman, she’s 25) from the Czech Republic who is in my same level at CIREFE, so we will have a lot of classes together. I also met a group of British girls when I was out one night last week, and, Anglophile that I am, I’ve had a ton of fun hanging out with them since.
Despite going out quite often, however, I have been spending a ton of time at home - I really could not be happier with my host family. I love spending time with them, whether it’s at the dinner table, at the market on Saturday morning, playing cards, or watching a movie. Despite linguistic and cultural differences, they seem to share almost the exact same values as my family at home. I feel truly at home in their apartment, and they are very open and trusting with me, something I am used to and that suits me well. They’re all very funny, now that I’m beginning to understand almost everything that’s said, and they’re very good about including me in the conversation and helping me when I can’t find an expression. We have a running joke about all the things that people say wrong in French that lead them into trouble. We now have a list of 4 things for me never to say, especially when out at night:
- “Je suis pleine.” I learned this one the hard way at the dinner table. It does not, unfortunately mean, “I’m full,” but rather, “I’m pregnant.” My family got a kick out of it.
- “Je suis chaude” and “je suis ouverte,” both of which mean that “sexuellement, tu es prête à faire n’importe quoi,” as explained by my host mother.
- And finally, the all-important difference between “se coucher” and “coucher,” the former meaning to put yourself to bed, and the latter meaning to sleep around. I learned this one by trial and error in class and shared it with my family so as to add it to our list.
The food continues to be a highlight of my time in France thus far - I have truly not had a bad meal thus far in Rennes. I tried Mussels two nights ago, which were okay, and I prepared a whole salmon (chopping the head off and all) this weekend under careful supervision of my host mother. I’ve found that keeping in touch with friends and family from home is a time-consuming occupation and am still struggling to find the right balance between keeping in touch and maintaining the distance necessary for immersion. SAP has started up again in full, so I am doing lots of work getting the International Outreach program all ready for my volunteers. That and my new peer editing job will keep me more than connected with BC this fall. Tomorrow brings the start of my classes at the university - yikes! My experiences eating in the dining halls have already been really overwhelming. The student population at Rennes 2 is, I think, at least 3 times that of BC (on about the same size campus), so it’s a little hectic.
Hoping everyone at home (and abroad) is well. The extensive TV programming on 9/11 (it might even be more here than in the US) has reminded me how lucky I am to know all of you and to have you safe and sound, even if it is thousands of miles away. Happy Monday!