Toussaint Break

 

Ella S. is currently a senior at SYA France and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from University School of Nashville in Tennessee. 

My friends and I outside of the Chambord castle!

Since my arrival here in France, I’ve come to appreciate a lot of differences from my home in the U.S. These include the availability of fresh baguettes, countless cobblestone streets lined with medieval architecture, and the great bus/metro system. However, one I especially love as a student is their system of vacations. For every six weeks of work, there is (usually) two weeks of rest. Beautiful.

When last period on October 19th rolled around, I could barely sit still. Forty-five minutes later everyone bolted out of the school in search of a celebratory crepe or pain au chocolat. The vacation officially started the best way possible when we all departed the following Monday for three days in the Loire Valley -- a region notorious for its chateaus (otherwise known as castles). Azay-le-Rideau, Blois, and Chambord were all absolutely stunning, and it was so cool to be able to apply my knowledge from my art history class to read the facades and interpret the intentions of the architects and kings once upon a time. I found the villages surrounding them just as beautiful, with meandering streets and old bookstores and cafés.

Our return from the Loire Valley meant I had the next week to explore Rennes more than I usually had the chance to on the weekends. I visited the Mussée des Beaux-Arts (twice!) and strolled through the vast March des Lices (the biggest market in Rennes). I went to the cinema with my host dad and learned to make crepes with my host mom. I even took a day trip to Saint-Malo with a few friends to explore the walled in city, walk along the ramparts, and watch the sailboats prepare to take off for the Route de Rhum. For Halloween, I went to a friend’s house to make cookies, help hand out candy, and watch a horror movie with her host siblings (in French of course). I also submitted college applications, which was quite a relief.

My sister and I with my host mom in Brussels!

The first day of November, my host family and I woke up early to catch a flight to Brussels to visit their son. The following days were filled with lots of walking and sightseeing, which was good because I was devouring the treats from their son’s patisserie (cookies, donuts, choux, oh my!) My host dad and I visited the European Parliament and Commission, and we talked about the state of the EU and European politics over fries. The next day my mom and sister came down from the Netherlands (where they’re currently living) to visit us for a day. Talk about worlds colliding! We visited the center of the city all together, and although it was a bit exhausting switching back and forth between English and French, it was really great spending time with my two families at once! I must add, the waffles are truly unparalleled.

Although I was a bit sleep deprived when I returned to school that Monday, I felt much more at home in Rennes, and much closer with my host family than when I had left just two weeks ago. Next stop, December 21st!

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