Given that there’s sadly so little time left of my stay in Rennes, this has become my motto. Profitez-en is like the French version of Carpe Diem. With that in mind, I viewed this week a little differently. Back in the beginning, I noted proudly every unique “French” experience I had out of a combo of shock and delight at the life I was living. Now, I’m looking at my days with a similar lens but for a very different reason- I want to remember everything, soak it all up and imprint it in my soul for all eternity. When people say that this is a once in a lifetime experience, they really mean it.
The French have this concept of stages that work sort of like apprenticeships/internships but during certain weeks of the year set aside for this purpose. A while back, I decided to take advantage of this culturally-ingrained acceptance towards paid/unpaid shadows in various enterprises and jobs so I reached out to the host dad of one of my classmates who is a writer at Ouest France, the most purchased daily paper in France. He showed me around their main office and I even got to sit in on a layout meeting. It was so cool to see news being “created” in real time and I had a little jolt of excitement seeing in the next day’s morning paper the layout and articles whose creation I’d been present for.
This week on Wednesday I had the double good luck of having both one class and a school excursion on what is already one of the best days of the French school week. After 45 minutes well spent discussing the French immigration system and a quick burrito lunch in Thabor, my 65 classmates and a mélange of our teachers piled into the familiar giant buses and headed for Dinard. Unlike my previous leisurely visits with my host family to this small and beautiful coastal town, we were in Dinard on a mission. The host mom of another one of my classmate’s teaches a professional high school there and had invited us for an afternoon full of experiencing hotel school. At this lycée hotelier and other lycées professionels, students take class in their chosen profession instead of the standard bac route. After 2-5 years (depending on the diploma) these students go straight from school to work in hotels, bakeries, couturiers and manual businesses all over the world. In Dinard, half of is joined the budding cooks in preparing a Brittany-inspired three course meal, complete with non-alcoholic cocktails concocted by the sommeliers-in-training (decked out in super flattering hairnets, shoe covers and long plastic coats) while the others helped the mini maître-d’s set up the dining room (breaking the occasional wine glass or two along the way :P). It made for a long day (we didn’t get back til 9:30pm ish) but with good friends (both new and old, French and American) and good food, what more do you need?
The train of new experiences spilled over to the weekend when, after taking the ACT for the second (and hopefully last) time, I attended a debate at Rennes’s annual Forum Libération. The paper La Libération invites experts to participate in panel discussions on a variety of topics stemming around a larger theme. This year’s theme is the world in 2030 and the session I attended was about the predicted foreign landscape and potential wars in the future. The panel was diverse and impressive, and I wish I could have attended more debates (alas my schedule deterred me from doing so; I wish I could have pulled a Mark Twain and not let my schooling interfere with my education but no such luck). While deep in discussion, the smell of burning tires permeated the room because of an apparent motorcycle demonstration outside the library- Vive la france?
Finally in the spirit of mentioning the new and exciting (plus continuing my trend of somehow working spring into every post since the sun showed up) I wore pants as usual this week and was actually hot. So obviously the next day I immediately whipped out a skirt and sunglasses. The rainy Bretagne weather is one think I surely won’t miss when I return, though as you can see, I’m stocking up on memories of the things I will.
I still can’t believe I have only one month of actual school left ! (If you’re wondering when exactly I get back to the good old USA, my dear friend RM made this scary count down for your viewing pleasure/displeasure).