I can’t believe that I’m already writing my reflection post! The semester flew by, and I still can’t believe that it’s over and that I’m writing this from my hometown in Indiana. It doesn’t quite feel real that I spent a whole four months in a different country, living a life that is completely different from my own. I went from being scared to order a sandwich in the airport to meeting new friends at the bar and cracking jokes at the dinner table with my host dad. Being back in the US has been great, and I've loved getting to revisit all my favorite things that I missed so much while abroad. However, I can't help but miss everything that I had become so accustomed to over my four months in Nantes.
It was hard to navigate the balance between being excited to see my friends at home and leaving my friends and host family abroad. I had finally adjusted to my routine in Nantes, from adjusting to my host family’s schedule to finding my favorite cafés and lunch spots. Leaving all of that and not knowing when or if I would return made me emotional but also so grateful. Having the opportunity to study abroad and have such a great experience doing so is such a privilege and something that I will never forget.
I have so many favorite moments from my time abroad. I loved being able to travel around Europe, and having my friend from school come visit me was so special. I even got the chance to rekindle some old bonds, like when I had dinner with my host family from my high school study abroad program, or when I was able to visit my cousin who lives in Paris. However, so many of my favorite moments in Nantes were the small things that became routine. I will never forget Sunday debriefs at the Au Chien Stupide, our favorite bar in town. And Kebab will always have a special place in my heart, especially when I’m craving a midnight snack. Perhaps most of all, I will miss the sense of community that I felt within the program, with the cultural assistants, the professors, my classmates, and my host family. IES Abroad Nantes is so special because it gives you the opportunity to form a community and a home so easily, and because of that Nantes will always be my home away from home.
Before I knew it, it was my very last day in Nantes and I was loading my bags into my host mom’s car, who drove me to the train station. During the drive to the train station, we were reminiscing on things that I would miss from my semester. We talked about the cat, my host dad’s jokes at the dinner table, and my favorite whipped cheese, Madame Loïk. Between laughs and discussing fond memories, I found myself shedding tears in the car. It was somewhere between tears of joy from having such a great experience and tears of sadness from knowing that my time was over. I was so sad to leave the life that I had become so accustomed to, but in hindsight, I am so grateful that I had a semester that was so hard to leave.
No matter where you study abroad, don’t forget to make the most out of even the most mundane days. Try to do something new every day, and don’t hesitate to spend time with your host family. I can’t wait to visit Nantes again someday, but for now, looking at pictures and videos will have to do. I’ve loved getting to share my time in Nantes with you all, and I hope that I’ve offered some perspective and advice on what life as a student in Nantes is like. Best of luck to you, wherever you are in the process!
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Hello! My name is Sophia Barton, and I'm a sophomore at the University of Portland, though I'm originally from Indiana. (Shout Midwest folks!) I'm currently majoring in Political Science and Global Affairs and French, with a Spanish minor. Can you tell that I love languages? I could not be more excited for the opportunity to immerse myself in the Nantes culture, and I'm so excited to take you all along with me. Rendez-vous à Nantes!! :)