Esinam G. is currently a junior at SYA France and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from The Madeira School in Virginia.
Rennes is a city filled with university students and diverse nationalities and race. I therefore assumed that upon my arrival, finding a hairdresser and a hair store for African American hair was not going to be a problem. I quickly learned I would have to look a little harder than I had initially planned. One of my concerns when leaving to come to SYA was whether I would find someone who could do my hair.
I asked my host family if they knew of any places I could get my hair done and they graciously took me to a store named “Black Caprice.” There, I met a woman from Benin who had a few products in her store and said she could do my hair, but at a rather expensive price. I wanted as many options as possible, so I asked some of the black students at the public high school where we normally eat lunch if they could give me some recommendations. I quickly learned that several people here get their hair done through friends and acquaintances who do braids as a part time hobby or a way to earn pocket money.
Still not feeling all too satisfied with my options, my friends and I set off one Saturday afternoon in search of a hair store to find all the products we would need. After two hours of searching in one of the malls, we managed to find a few products for our hair texture but were convinced there had to be a store with more options. Feeling fairly confident in our conversational French, we asked a lady at the store if she knew of any other places with more products. She informed us she did not have any names in mind but that we may have luck on a street called Rue du Mail.
We were a little discouraged at this point, but nonetheless attempted to put this street into Google maps and we arrived on a long street filled with west African food stores and a number of different hair stores to choose from. We explored each and every one, taking our pick of the rich selection and were given the contacts of multiple hairdressers.
Finding a store and hairdresser was not as simple as I assumed it would be but in the end, I found many. This search also gave me the chance to braid my friend’s hair for the first time and hopefully, with practice and time, it could end up being a very useful skill someday. So future SYA France students, fear not, there is always an option!
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- SYA France