Although I haven’t been here for long, I already have a lot to say about why I like Nantes. This post was inspired by IES Abroad’s campaign on finding the perfect study abroad match, which will launch this Valentine’s Day.
Before I even arrived here, this city was very appealing to me. The most popular study abroad programs in France pursued by students at Grinnell are Nantes, Paris, Aix-en-Provence, and Marseille. Unfortunately, the programs in Aix-en-Provence and Marseille for this semester were unexpectedly cancelled last Fall. Although I’m sure I would have a terrific time studying in Paris, I’ve frequently been told that it is hard to get Parisians to speak with you in French. Furthermore, Paris is a large and rather expensive city. Thus, I chose Nantes partly by process of elimination, and so far I am quite pleased with that choice!
Nantes’ most appealing characteristic for me is its size and location. With a metropolitan population of around 620,000, Nantes is big enough that it feels like a fast-moving urban city, but small enough that you can still quickly familiarize yourself with the general layout and vibe of the town. Moreover, I’ve spent the last two and a half years living in the town of Grinnell, Iowa, which has about 9,000 inhabitants and is surrounded by cornfields. As much as I have grown to appreciate the simplicity and calmness of small towns, I grew up in and am more accustomed to the mid-sized metropolitan city life.
When I learned that Nantes was situated along the Loire near the coast, I envisioned mild temperatures and lots of cloudy, rainy weather. The weather here thus far has certainly proved that vision to be true. Last week it rained on and off continuously every day, casting a calm, cozy atmosphere over the city. The wide, slow-moving Loire also adds a certain natural charm in its own way. Along its banks and the banks of the Edre – one of its tributaries – there are a variety of small and medium sized boats neatly lined up that are pleasant to look at. Most are private, but a few of the bigger ones are in fact restaurants, and there is even a retired French military ship that has been converted into a museum.
Perhaps the best realization I’ve come to about Nantes since arriving here is that there is always something fun to do. Typically, I like to check out the city’s main attractions, try new restaurants and bars, and simply walk around. Thus far, I have not even come close to discovering all Nantes has to offer despite trying to get out as much as possible. Furthermore, Nantes offers a range of activities wide enough to satisfy any interest. Whether you play a sport, an instrument, are interested in social justice reform, want to learn about the history of the city, or simply get to know its people, there are plenty of resources and programs at your disposal to help you pursue your passion.
At the center of my experience in Nantes is the IES Abroad program. From the day I arrived, the program’s administrators have helped me become oriented and have shown me all that there is to do in Nantes. The administration did a terrific job of helping me and the other students in the program choose our classes both at the IES Abroad Center and at the Université de Nantes. The social coordinator organizes fun, casual social events around town once or twice a week. There are also several bigger trips that occur during the course of the semester on weekends. Next weekend, for example, I am looking forward to visiting Mont-Saint-Michel and Saint-Malo. It is hard not to want to go on those trips since they are pre-organized and covered in the cost of the program!
Having lived in Nantes for only one month, I cannot yet say that I truly know this city. I am still learning about its layout, its history, its general vibe. However, I can definitely say that I am satisfied with my decision to study here as I have chosen a stellar program in an incredible city.
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<p>Bonjour! My name is Keanan Gleason, I am from Albuquerque, New Mexico, but currently live in Iowa where I am a third year student at Grinnell College. I am double-majoring in Economics and French, and this spring I will be studying abroad in Nantes, France! I hope to get to know my temporary home by going on lots of runs, eating at various restaurants, and exploring with friends.</p>