Dépaysement

Dépaysement
– adjective (French)
1. The feeling that comes from not being in one’s home country — of being a foreigner, or an immigrant, of being somewhat displaced from your origin.
(NB: doesn’t translate easily to any one word in English)

Hello wonderful French word. Thank you for summing up that nagging feeling I’ve had throughout my first week in Rennes. I woke up the other day after dreaming I was back in America, slightly dazed that I was actually in France. That’s a realization that has been slow in coming.

So far, life in France has been, above all, very French. I’ve had baguette 3 times a day, every day so far, accompanied with either some fabulous French cheese or Nutella (who cares that it’s Made In Italy). Additionally, pretty soon after my arrival, I experienced my first crepe dinner, where each family member gets their own mini stove on a giant crepe stove top and the crepes are filled with cheese, meat (not for me obviously), and for dessert, sugar and chocolate- comme c’est bon! Sadly, I have yet to have a plain croissant here (but no worries, I’ve already eaten an eclair, a pain au chocolat, a maccaron and a chausson de pommes :D). France, even in the span of only 7 days, has shown me how much I love food. Even their cheese pizzas from
Dominoes (aka school lunch on Wednesday) are high quality- a blend of four exciting and delicious French cheeses. Also, everything just tastes better on fresh baguette.

Adjusting to life in France has been relatively easy (especially when compared to someplace like China), in part because this was not my first time abroad alone nor in France, however, my first week in Rennes came with its own culture shocks and observations nonetheless. For example, even on weekends, the French (or at least my host family) looks put together when theoretically, they just woke up. Meals are also held with as many family members as are available and dinner is always intended to be a family affair (a sacred tradition that defines our weekday curfew at SYA). In that vein, lots of children eat lunch at home, and because the school system here works like the public school system in the US, most children live close to school so the commute is not too bad (mine is a 15 minute walk).

En plus, Rennes has rekindled my love of public transportation and sidewalks. Coming from Atlanta where it is customary (and almost necessary) to drive everywhere, it is liberating and refreshing to be able to walk to school (doubly refreshing in the sprinkles of rain I was told to look forward to often here), to a café afterwards, and take a bus back home. Rennes also has a metro, making it the smallest city with its own metro line. With this fabulous public transportation comes, of course, a level of freedom. After clearing it with my host parents the day before, I am free to go explore Centre-ville with my friends or grab a quick hot chocolate and/or ice cream after school.

School itself is long, starting at 8 every day except Monday and finishing some days at 5. I was happy to see that we have free periods like back home as well as a nice 75 minute long lunch (not exactly like what we have at Westminster ;D). For all classes except Math and English, work is to be done in pen, preferably in cursive, and on their special graph-esque paper. This year, I am taking 7 classes: French language, French literature, Culture and Society of France, History and Art History, all of which, with the exception of English and Math, are taught entirely in French.

I can’t believe it has been just one week since I left. To me and some of my classmates, it feels like months. Days feel like weeks, but not in a bad way (which might explain why my usual study abroad “give it one week” period of homesickness, was mainly only one day this time).

The SYA France Class of 2014 is a great, all-around nice, multi-talented group of people. My classmates and I have all bonded faster and tighter than I anticipated. I can’t wait for our next 35 weeks together!

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One thought on “Dépaysement

  1. Sentiments well articulated! Je te connais bien :-). Ton sens de dépaysement ne durera pas pour longtemps. You will soon feel like you always lived there. Enjoy!

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