Chant'ing in the Rain

Kiley Pratt
January 25, 2018
Me at Chapelle Saint-Hubert, Amboise; Leonardo da Vinci is buried behind me somewhere!

Bonjour! I've been in France for a little over two weeks now, and while the first one felt like it crawled by with all the orientation events, this past week has gone by in the blink of an eye. We started courses on Monday, and I can already tell it's going to a be a little while before I'm able to understand everything being said, let alone start to critically analyze texts. However, I'm enjoying listening and taking notes as much as I can. It's always thrilling when I go more than 10 or 15 without starting to get really confused, and I feel like my vocabulary and comprehension expands exponentially every hour I spend in class. 

The city of Nantes has so much to explore, enough that I'm sure I'll be able to discover some small new corner every day that I'm here. What's most striking to me is not the gorgeous cathedrals or grand châteaus, although these are pretty exceptional, but rather the intricacies of every building that are so small they can almost be overlooked. It's the porcelain woman standing in the window of a second-story apartment that you would not notice unless it was pointed out, or a tiny marble flower ornamenting the railing of a staircase in McDonald's. It's obvious that every piece of decoration was created slowly, methodically, and for the purpose of making something functional extraordinarily beautiful as well. It's the same with interiors; at the IES Abroad center, where I spend most of my time in class, working in the small library, or microwaving lunch in the kitchen, the chandeliers (there are chandeliers here!) are held in place with this ridiculously intricate flower molding that I'm looking at as I type this. While the huge theaters and fountains have been absolutely stunning, it seems to me that part of the 'magie' of Nantes will be the small things that, if I'm not looking carefully, will go by without any notice (I've also been reading Harry Potter in French, and seeing 'wand' written as 'baguette magique' still makes me laugh)

Another thing about Nantaise Architecture is that it's absolutely beautiful in the rain. Someone told me this before I left, but I never imagined how important it would be until it rained on and off practically every day for the last week. While I definitely prefer to be outside in the sun, there's something about the grey buildings in the drizzle and wind that holds its own charm. I've been enjoying holing up in a cafe with a few friends and speaking our funny mixture of French and English and watching the city get absolutely drenched through the window. It does feel funny to be missing the snow back home, something that has been a staple of winter for my entire life. But I'm absolutely loving being able to walk everywhere without fear of losing feeling in my hands, and in the times when I have been caught in the rain, I've found there's nothing to do but laugh and keep moving forward (hopefully to somewhere with a bowl of hot chocolate waiting). 

So far, what I know of the city of Nantes are: cheap crêperies (from extensive Yelp searches), thrift stores on my block, the boulangerie that sells gluten-free chocolate cake, the mall at the end of the C1 bus route, and the ferry over to the Île de Nantes. There will definitely be more, and I'm excited to continue discovering all the little things that make this city beautiful

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Kiley Pratt

<p class="MsoBodyText" style="margin-top:2.35pt; margin-right:23.95pt; margin-bottom:.0001pt; margin-left:5.0pt"><span style="line-height:115%">I am currently a junior at Tufts University studying Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Computer Science, and Food Systems and Nutrition. When not at Tufts, I am either at home in Vermont, hiking in the Adirondack mountains, or searching for a good gluten-free bagel. I also enjoy skiing, making smoothies out of pretty much anything, climbing, and reading in the back of used book stores.</span></p>

2018 Spring
Home University:
Tufts University
New Haven, VT
Cognitive Science
Computer Science
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