Everyday I wake up in Nantes I'm a bit surprised. Quelquefois I forget I'm in France until I start my treck to the IES Center or the University. As I walk out of my apartment, I am greeted by both crisp winter wind and brilliant French sunshine. I love hearing the heels of my boots click-clack on Nantes' cobblestone streets and seeing French five year olds being led to maternelle by their parents or older siblings. Deciding to take the bus allows me to avoid the cold and indulge in my favourite guilty pleasure: people watching. I've seen French teenagers argue over who their favourite American rapper is while witnessing many a person roll thier eyes and pull out their livres de poche in order to have some distraction from the resulting noise. Quite frankly, I could write a book about the many amusing characters I've seen in Nantes and what it means for me to be here with them, but for now I'm limited to this blog post.
Nantes has given me time to ruminate over potential summer plans, my goals for the rest of the semester, and most importantly, improve my French. For me, studying abroad was about taking a break from the super busy and stressful life of my liberal arts college. It's safe to say Nantes has allowed me to do just that.
The thing I love the most about being here-and maybe about life outside the United States in general-is that every thing is much slower paced. Perhaps in other cities, like Paris, the daily grind is no different than Los Angeles or New York, but I don't think Nantes has a 'rush-hour' and I've never heard my host mom complain about her commute to work (which is about a 30 minute walk). I love having dinners that last for more than two hours and being able to have conversations that range from a particular country's state of affairs to why American music has taken over every French radio station. I've even begun to love the fact that buses only run 3 times an hour on Sundays-it gives me another excuse to explore the city on foot!
Calling Nantes a 'quintessential' French city would be a bit absurd, as there is a great amount of diversity in France culture, and I'm sure each city has its particularities. But I still chuckle to myself whenever I see a little old man walking home with three baguettes in tow.
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<p>Chandra Dickey is a junior at Scripps College in Claremont, California studying Politics, International Relations, and History. She is really excited to journey to Nantes, as it is her first time out of the United States. While abroad she hopes to learn more about Nantes’ rich history, try a bunch of new foods and learn the many quirks of the French way of life. </p>