Voila! My first post as a campus reporter for SYA France (originally posted here), reflecting on my first impressions after a month in Rennes.
Rennes: Love at first sight
Time is a funny thing. One part of me can’t believe that I’ve already been in Rennes for a month but, on the other hand, it feels like I’ve known my classmates and host family for much longer. There’s something about adapting to a new life that helps form quick tight bonds.
The first few weeks adjusting to Rennes seemed to fly by but each individual day seemed almost interminable. As a whole, the average French weekday is much longer than in the U.S. Classes start at 8:10 most mornings and can go to 5:00 or 6:00 in the evening depending on the day. However, interspersed in these long lasting school days are extended lunches (an hour and 15 minutes long) and multiple free periods with the option to go off campus.
The American School (which is what the Rennais call the SYA school) is located within five minutes from downtown (Centreville) and one minute from a beautiful park (Parc du Thabor), a decent boulangerie, a nice crèperie, a Carrefour market and a smattering of small restaurants. Suffice to say, off campus contains a multitude of exciting possibilities for places to eat, study and blow off steam. Additionally, one of the great things about France is the immense number of well-priced cafés within a stone’s throw of each other. Le Centreville is full of shops, restaurants, cafés, pop-up musicians, and churches that could fill up numerous afternoons with fun new experiences. Many of my classmates have taken it upon themselves to find the best cookies, ice cream and crèperies in Rennes in a valiant journey of amazing tastes and empty wallets. Personally, I am on a quest for a café I can call mine and am still blissfully in the market, having even tried two of Rennes slightly hidden tea shops.
Even better than the interesting people I’ve met and the delicious “nourriture” I’ve tasted, is the sheer freedom I’ve acquired as an SYA student. Every day, I walk to school either by myself, like most other high-schoolers in Rennes, or with one of my classmates who lives nearby. I have almost complete autonomy over my time: I decide when I go home, what I want to do after school and where I want to study. To top it all off, I can get myself everywhere by myself. Whereas back home, this was only possible with a car and my newly acquired driving license, here everything is either within walking distance (which is actually quite a large range), accessible via bus or with a combination of the two. With just a month under my belt, I think it is safe to say I have fallen back in love with public transportation.
In fact, I’m just head over heels for this whole experience in Rennes. The freedom, the food, the school and the people are all amazing, and I’m so glad I have eight months left to fill up with as much chocolate, bread, cheese and French as possible.