I find it hard to believe it’s only been two weeks. It feels like it’s already been months. Each day is an adventure and a step towards greater immersion (both linguistically and culturally).
This week has been a whirlwind of acclimation. I am surrounded almost totally by French. Though I know this sounds obvious, it’s a lot more than it appears. Aside from my host family, I have five classes entirely in French including French literature, French culture and European history. Here at SYA, we seem to have jumped straight into junior year head first and full speed ahead. The homework load for the first couple of days was not too bad but I start having tests this coming Monday itself. What a first week of classes! The French may be known for being laid back, but their approach towards school is definitely not.
Thankfully, the French are also experts at taking breaks. My friends and I have settled into a nice routine of going into Centreville after school a couple days a week. The streets are always alive and I swear a new café pops up everyday. My favorite eateries so far have been a Crèperie with 3 pages worth of both salty and sweet crèpe choices (from which I’ve tasted a sweet lemon one and a salted caramel with chocolate one) and a hole in the wall tea place named L’Aparté that my friends and I heard of from a previous SYA student’s blog. I also went out for dinner with my host family to an Asian restaurant called Wok, where I had a “spicy” masaman curry with noodles. So far, the food in Rennes is all around delicious, but I might have to try some more just to be sure ;).
I think I can finally say I’m settling into a bit of a routine here. I eat breakfast three days out of five with the host family and walk to school with S.V (one of my friends who lives nearby). Everyday I eat lunch at one of two nearby local high schools. A couple of my friends and I even sat and talked with some French students one day this week. It was interesting to see their vast knowledge of what I considered American pop culture. School ends at a different time everyday, ranging from 2:30 to 5:20pm. Wednesdays are the best because I have late arrival and only two classes. Getting out early means my homework gets done almost everyday before I get home (which is albeit at least two hours later than back in the states), leaving me with free time I’m unaccustomed to. It’s been really nice having this time. I got to go for a run for the first time in weeks this Wednesday. I’m extremely out of shape but it felt great. We’ll see how long I can keep this up. Hopefully the workload doesn’t double every week!
My host family has also been super helpful in helping me absorb as much French as possible. After school, I’ve started reading La Maison Biscornue (aka the Crooked House) by Agatha Christie and somehow, I’ve also managed to watch a good amount of movies in French. So far I’ve seen The Devil Wears Prada, Arna Coeur, Kick Ass, Tanguy and West Side Story. The pace of a movie is a whole new ball game of comprehension, mon dieu!
Amidst days that seem to stretch out forever, this week actually moved rather fast. Making a routine and adjusting to life on rue Beaumarchais makes the time fly. We’re already 2 weeks in!