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First Days Exploring Rennes

Katherine J. is currently a junior at SYA France and a blogger for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Providence Day School in North Carolina. View more of her work throughout the year here.

A month has passed since I left North Carolina to study abroad in Rennes, France, for nine months. These past four weeks have been some of the best of my life, and I can't wait to see what the rest of the school year will bring. To start off this blog, I would love to share a description of one of my first days exploring the city.

After successfully completing our first week in Rennes, our teachers at SYA organized a scavenger hunt to help us get better acquainted with our surroundings. They separated everyone into groups of four and gave us a number of clues to find. Although this wasn't my first time in Rennes, I still barely knew my way around. Fortunately, as soon as we started exploring, any leftover feelings of uneasiness I had felt before quickly evaporated. Only excitement remained.

It was a beautiful day, and the atmosphere felt vibrant. The narrow cobblestone alleys were filled with people shopping and chatting, and the outdoor cafes seemed to spill out onto the streets. We walked around for what felt like hours, and I was in awe of the beautiful architecture. I distinctly remember stumbling upon a massive square in the middle of town. On all sides, cream-colored buildings stood proud and tall, while the sun glimmered off of their exteriors.

After exploring the streets, we decided to stop by the Parc du Thabor, which is a massive park situated in the Centre Ville. This park is filled with lush green lawns and plentiful rose gardens. Everywhere you look, marble colored statues of angels and nymphs peek out of flower beds or stand at attention in the middle of gushing fountains. My group found a nice bench overlooking the lawns, and we decided to sit down and chat for a little while. There was a light breeze above us that made the trees rustle and sway in the wind. To my left and right, I could see groups of French families and friends sitting out on the spacious greenery. They were chatting, laughing, and trying to soak up the beautiful weather. A part of me longed to join them, but there was still something holding me back. Instead, I was content with just observing from afar.

Although this was only a couple of weeks ago, I feel like months have passed since that day. The streets of Rennes are no longer unknown to me, and I have grown accustomed to their twists and turns. With each passing day, my confidence only grows. I no longer feel as if I am an intruder entering into a "French only" zone. The truth is, I no longer consider myself a tourist. I feel as if I have found my place in the city.


Clio M. is currently a junior at SYA France and a photographer for the Campus Reporter program. She comes to SYA from Friends Seminary in New York.