Stella M. is currently a junior at SYA France and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Saint Mary's Hall in Texas.
For the past 13 years, I have always associated Wednesdays with Tex-Mex being served at my cafeteria. Don’t get me wrong, quesadillas and guacamole are things to look forward to; however, a typical Wednesday in Rennes, France is particularly noteworthy.
My alarm starts to ring, a tranquil classical tune repetitively playing. It is not entirely effective.
I wake up, glancing outside my skylight to gain a better understanding of the ever so unpredictable weather here in Rennes. After I finish getting ready for the day, I walk downstairs for breakfast.
A plethora of options is uniformly placed on the table, as one of the more difficult decision processes takes place: Petit déjeuner. I find myself often reaching for a crêpe topped with butter and apricot jam. I keep a watchful eye on the time and leave the house about a quarter to 9, as I prefer to keep running to school at a minimum.
My morning walk to school is an great way to start the day. The mere concept of walking from point A to point B is relatively unfamiliar to me, coming from San Antonio, Texas. That being said, I truly appreciate the absent necessity of a car. The faces I cross paths with each day, including a crossing guard with whom I regularly exchange a “Bonjour” with, have created a sense of warm feeling of familiarity.
An image of a captivating painting by François Boucher is displayed in front of our class. Art History is definitely one of, if not, my favorite class here at SYA France. The information we learn in class does not stay inside the classroom. We can experience it in our Loire Valley trip when visiting the châteaux or by observing the work in the Musée des Beaux Arts here in Rennes. Following Monsieur Lémé’s class, I make my way down to Advisory, where we take a step back and discuss living abroad as a whole, the challenges that we have encountered, the overall purpose, as well as amusing anecdotes that have stuck with us. I finish the school day with an insightful discussion in English, as classes end at 11:25 on Wednesdays.
The aroma of fresh, flavorful dishes greets me as the much anticipated doors of Jean Macé open. Lycée Jean Macé is one of the two local high schools that we have the option of eating lunch at, the other being St. Vincent. The line starts with a wide array of delicious desserts, then to the neatly packaged cheeses, the cold dishes, the main course, and finally finishing with warm bread. Jean Macé truly never disappoints. Besides the food being amazing, lunch is a time where I can enjoy the company of my friends, a time that is most always filled with uncontrollable laughter, when our experiences are eagerly shared with one another.
A contemplation takes place between my friends and I regarding what the afternoon has in store for us. Rennes is a vibrant city, and I do not recall a day when I thought to myself “There is nothing to do.” Wednesday afternoons usually consist of picnics in the Parc du Thabor, venturing out into Centre-Ville, perusing through boutiques, and simply just exploring parts of the city that were formerly unknown to us. When I return home, I am surrounded by the smiling faces of my host siblings, Alix, Aurèle, and Albane. Although it has only been a bit over 2 months, I see them as my younger siblings, ones that I am so grateful to have. From doing arts and crafts with Alix and Albane, to constructing Lego creations with Aurèle, there is certainly never a dull moment with these three.
A neon yellow ball flies through the crisp evening air. Fortunately, I have the opportunity to continue playing tennis here in Rennes. While the game stays the exact same, being on a team with French high school students truly elevates the experience. It is another community that I am so pleased to be a part of. Whether it is conversing with the people on my team in between matches or strategizing with my doubles partner for that day, being engaged in a local team sport in Rennes is one of the best decisions I have made here.
As I walk through the doors chez moi, I feel at home. I sit down for dinner with my host family, as we discuss our days over a delicious meal. Some of my fondest memories so far in France have been during our lively dinners. It is a time where I genuinely feel like I’m getting to know each one of them better and better, and they make such a genuine effort to make me feel like I’m a part of their family. Dinners often conclude with a mind game conducted by Albane, or better yet, break out in song!
Following dinner, I finish up my homework and studying for the next day. Since the majority of the courses are in French, the work be very time-consuming. However, I do believe that I have made a significant amount of progress in my French skills in just a few months due to the full immersion experience SYA offers.
The day has come to an end, and as I get ready to go asleep, I try to wrap my head around the fact that I am in here, in France, for an entire school year. It is still so surreal to me.
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