Now that my semester in Nantes is over, I am back at home and renavigating life in the US (#reversecultureshock, am I right?). On the whole, I loved my semester abroad and felt that I grew a lot as a person and in my language abilities.
Before coming to Nantes, I had a pretty realistic goal of putting in as much effort as I could to improve in French by absorbing as much of it as possible from listening, reading, writing, and speaking. I don’t feel fluent in French, but I do feel that I improved significantly over the course of the semester. I feel more confident speaking in French and spend less time and effort mentally choosing and conjugating verbs than I did before. I also learned more everyday vocabulary, slang, and verbal fillers that I probably wouldn’t have picked up as easily just from learning in my French classes at the Claremont Colleges.
I learned about French culture from living in a host family, going to Conversation Club every week, participating in the teaching internship, and by living in Nantes for the semester. I really enjoyed learning about the history of Nantes and seeing its landmarks in person, having freedom to manage my daily life, explore, and profites-bien (take advantage of/enjoy fully) of the exciting city I got to call home for the semester.
If I could change anything about my semester, I would communicate more frequently with my family at home. In college in California, I didn’t have a very regular habit of calling home, but I felt that it was not that big of a deal because I lived close enough to home to be able to visit and check-in in-person. Being an ocean away (and a 9-hour time difference) made communication more difficult, and calling home sometimes slipped my mind with classes and work and exciting aspects of life abroad. Coincidentally though, the moments I felt most homesick were watching videos of my brother’s first dance concert and my mom’s new office and when I video called my best friend on her birthday – moments when significant things were happening at home but I wasn’t able to be physically there to witness them.
That being said, on the whole, I am filled with gratitude that I had the opportunity to study abroad in Nantes.
I am grateful for pretty reliable and convenient public transit and the Moovit app which helped me so much in getting around (Google Maps didn’t work that well with the public transit in Nantes!).
I am grateful for endless varieties of cheese, delicious galettes and crêpes, yummy LU biscuits (and supermarket replicas), Monoprix Dinozor’s (my favorite gummies with a funny caption, HIGHLY RECOMMEND), and so much more wonderful food.
I am grateful for my daily walk to IES Abroad, observing the pastel blue, pink, and yellow colors of the morning and evening, hearing the Chronobuses pass by, and feeling the fresh air as I marched along rue de Gigant.
I am grateful for scream-singing and dancing in the cramped, stuffy, but charming John Mcbyrne’s for Thursday Karaoke Nights.
I am grateful for interesting conversations, invented stories and alibis, and improvised radio show snippets in club de conversation with French friends and American ones.
I am grateful for the “I am very very starving!”, the fist bumps, the mind maps, and the dad jokes at my teaching internship.
I am grateful for my host parents and the French host student at my host family for their endless patience, support, care, humor, and kindness throughout the semester.
I am grateful for my family and friends in the U.S. who I didn’t contact nearly enough throughout the semester but who were (and are) always there to support me.
I am grateful for all of the wonderful staff, TAs, and faculty at the IES Abroad Nantes Center who work tirelessly to make our semester as smooth as possible and cheer us on with their support and love.
I am grateful for the hilarious moments of culinary creativity in the IES Abroad cuisine (and the comments “Nous sommes dans la gastronomie!”, referencing our gastronomic meals made in the IES Abroad kitchen), random IES Abroad salon singalongs, impromptu conversations en franglais, and navigating Nantes with endless curiosity with my fellow IES Abroad Nantes students.
The list could probably go on and on, but overall, I just wanted to say that I am so grateful for everyone and everything who made this semester such a great experience.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Merci beaucoup, et à la prochaine fois. <3 Brittany (Bretagne???)