My lifestyle while studying abroad in Nantes, France was certainly different than my usual day-to-day life at my home university. Throughout the semester, I noticed that many of my habits and routines had evolved in order to adjust to the new environment.
One significant adjustment that I made was my means of transportation to get to the IES Abroad center for class, and to travel around the city in general. At my home university, I typically walk or ride my bike around campus and town. Everything is close by, including my dorm, so I do not need much more than this to get around swiftly.
While I was in Nantes, however, everything was much farther apart. Instead of a small campus, I was suddenly traversing a major city. Therefore, I needed to use the buses and trams of the public transportation system in Nantes.
This sort of daily commute was unfamiliar to me, and it took some time to adjust. I found it difficult being at the mercy of the bus system. I always had to keep an eye on the schedules posted online that indicated when the bus would be arriving at each stop. I had to make sure to arrive at the stop in time every morning so I would not miss the bus and be late to class as a result. Sometimes, however, I would arrive on time, but the bus would arrive extremely late. I would just have to accept that I was going to be late and there was nothing I could do about it.
I also found myself walking a lot more while in Nantes than I usually do. Even though there was public transportation, sometimes certain locations were not quite far enough away to justify waiting for the bus just to travel one or two stops. Additionally, sometimes the bus lines were cut due to traffic congestion or something else of the sorts, and so there was no option but to walk to where I needed to go.
Because my daily commute was time-consuming, I found myself not going back to my host family’s house until the end of the day right before dinner time. In fact, I usually spent the entire day at the IES Abroad center from morning until evening. During that time, I would attend class, work on assignments, and hang out with my classmates.
This was vastly different than my daily routine at my home university. I personally like to go back to my room to relax between classes throughout the day, but that was simply not feasible with the circumstances in Nantes. It was for the best, though, because everyone in the program wanted to spend time with each other every day. There were only 35 of us, and I would say we were a rather tight-knit group. This was a change of pace for me because at home I go to school with about 2,700 other students, but in Nantes I was seeing the same few faces every day. The IES Abroad center had a welcoming environment with rooms where we could just relax and hang out with each other, and so we took advantage of that instead of leaving after our classes let out. It was very enriching for me to go through these experiences with this quality group of individuals.
One of the most notable lifestyle changes for me while studying in Nantes was living with a host family. I had never done anything like this before, and it was definitely a stark contrast to my usual living situation at school. For example, my host family served dinner every night. The family and I would all sit around the table, eat together, and talk about our days every evening. I loved these home-cooked meals, especially because it was a great opportunity to experience French cuisine.
My abroad lifestyle was like no other that I had ever experienced, but that is what made it so unique. It gave me the opportunity to try out another way of life and see how I like it. I feel that I have become a more flexible, independent person who can more easily adapt and thrive in new settings and circumstances.
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<p>My name is Amanda Carrier and I am from Branchburg, New Jersey. I'm a senior at Gettysburg College double majoring in Political Science and French. When I'm on campus, you can often find me at rehearsal with the Sunderman Conservatory Wind Symphony as a percussionist. At home, I love playing with my two cats and going down to the Jersey Shore in the summer!</p>