A Day in the Nantes Life

Clare Hogan
January 9, 2022

I’ve been wanting to write a blog post like this since before I got to Nantes, because it’s one of the things that helped me most when I was deciding if I wanted to go abroad, and if I did go, to where. I think life in a foreign country and city sounds so bizarre and intimidating, like you’ll never nail down a routine or a sense of comfort. Hopefully, this blog will help you realize you can find routine, comfort, and stability wherever you go.

Today is Monday, November 15th. Every Monday, I wake up at 6:45 in order to give myself enough time to make it to my 8:30 class. That may sound weirdly early, but I take a while to wake up, and you never know what public transportation will be like in the mornings. I get up, get ready, then walk downstairs to eat breakfast. I’m not much of a breakfast person, so typically I just grab something to eat really quick and go. My host family has already eaten by that time (early risers and hard workers), so I typically do not see them in the morning. Which, for me, works out, as I’m truly not a morning person. I leave my house at around 7:50 in order to catch the 7:56 tram to centre-ville. That tram ride is about 12 minutes, and then I have another 12-minute walk to the IES Abroad Center. The commute is honestly kind of relaxing. I listen to music as I ride and walk, taking in the sights of the city waking up. Nantes wakes up almost slowly, something I have come to appreciate. There is some hustle and bustle, sure, but for the most part, she takes her time, with shop owners setting up their stores, boulangeries baking their bread, and people still making their way to work at 8:15.

First thing Monday, I have my French language course for an hour and a half. This is not a class I dread, so while I would prefer it be at a later time, it certainly is not the worst thing. After class, which generally passes rather quickly, I stay at IES Abroad and work on some schoolwork until 11. At 11, Juliana and I leave to take the tram to the University of Nantes for lunch before our class there. We do this every single Monday, a tradition I enjoy. The food is pretty good there, especially compared to my University in America, and it’s not expensive. We sit and eat and talk in the cafeteria until it is time to go to our Translation course. This class lasts two hours, but I always find it quite interesting. The professor is very understanding of how many English-speaking students he has in his class, and I feel like I learn a lot from having to translate English passages into French and vise-versa. Oh, also, I habitually get a coffee from the University on Mondays. Guess how much they are. Well, I don’t know what your guess was, but I am going to assume that it was wrong in the interest of my blog-writing career. Sixty cents! Sixty cents for a pretty decent cup of coffee (it may be a very small cup, but it is still decent). Plus, if you turn your cup back in, you get ten cents back! Did I sometimes dumpster dive to find empty cups to put in the machine to get more money back? We won’t talk about it. But ok, anyway, that ends my “France is so cool” rant for now.

After translation, many times my friends and I go to get happy hour mojitos at one of our favorite bars. Oh, the joys of Europe. Today is one of those days, so we take the tram to "Le Maestro" and settle down for a little bit, just relaxing. That’s one of my favorite parts of life here in France. Even in the middle of the day, a weekday even, you can find yourself able to relax, and it’s socially acceptable and encouraged rather than scorned and looked down upon.

Next, I go to a café to work on homework for a few hours. Today I go to a café called “Artichaut” (this means Artichoke, which I find extremely odd to be a name of a café, but anyway), probably my favorite little café in Nantes. The owners there know my friends and I, and they greet us with the biggest smiles whenever we walk in the door. They speak French to us here, which is something all of us really appreciate, as almost everyone switches to English when they hear us. There’s a dog that roams around this café, too, so I suppose that could have something to do with my preference for it. Monday afternoons are always a nice free time to get work done that I either have procrastinated or that I need to finish for the week ahead, making it one of the most productive yet relaxing days.

I leave Artichaut at around 6:30-7 to head home for the evening. I almost always walk home at the end of the day. It gives me time to process everything that has happened, call friends/family back home, or just listen to music and be by myself. “What about dinner with your host family?” you might be asking? Fear not, I’ll be there. It’s much too early for dinner here in Europe. Once I get home, I continue doing some work/just sort of lay down and relax until my host mom calls me down for dinner at around 8:45 (told you). When I sit down at the dinner table, everything else outside of the dinner table stops. There are no phones or talk of what we are going to do right after dinner, we are simply there together, talking about our days and whatever other random topic comes up. I almost always am asked to recount what I did that day, and I do that again this evening. I’m better at it now than I was before, and I can tell them about my days with relative ease. I listen to my host sister talk about her many school stories, laughing at how funny she is, and I just relax. My host family always provides an entertaining dining experience without expecting anything out of me in return, something that I appreciate immensely after exhausting days in a foreign country.

After dinner, which is usually around 9:45-10, I head upstairs to take a shower and get ready for bed. It’s nice, actually, having dinner this late, because it typically means by the time dinner rolls around, my day is done. Unless I have a big assignment or have procrastinated all of my work, after dinner I just relax and go to bed. Tuesdays, I have to get up at 8:30 am once again for a three-hour course, so I need all of the rest Monday nights that I can get. I typically get in bed and am asleep by 11:30-12 (very early for me), and then start it all back up again the next day.

So, as you can see, I have a bit of a routine here. Each of my Mondays look similar, but not exactly the same. Sometimes, they look completely different. However, I feel like I have enough stability to appreciate the random days that differ from all the others. My life here is scheduled, but not too scheduled. Safe, but not predictable. Each day holds surprises that I don’t expect, whether that be a new café, a new bar, a new meal at dinner, or a class field trip. Life and school here are not scary and exhausting like I thought they would be, but they’re not boring or monotonous or dry, either. For that, I’m really thankful.

Clare Hogan

<p>Hey! My name is Clare Hogan and I'm a senior at Wofford College. I'm majoring in Psychology and French, with a minor in English. I hope to become a counseling psychologist one day, which is why I majored in Psychology. At school, I'm in a sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, and I love to participate in various events with that, such as dances, philanthropy events, and more! I adore reading and writing (hence the minor), hiking, playing tennis, and all things relating to dogs. Also, a fun fact about me is that I sneeze every time I eat chocolate (which is quite often)!</p>

Home University:
Wofford College
Greenville, SC
French Language
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