Why did you choose this program? Since I'm a French major, I wanted to improve my French as much as possible. The program in Rennes was, from day one, a full immersion experience. I remember sitting in a room with my fellow CIEE classmates and signing a "contract" that promised we would only speak French, even among ourselves. It was a really amazing way to jump right into the language! My French improved dramatically after just four short months. I also loved the homestay component of the program. As soon as I met my host mom, Fabienne, I knew this was going to be a semester I would cherish forever. She was so loving, kind, and generous that I felt at home right away. A year after my program ended, I went back to France to visit her during Christmas Break! It was wonderful to walk into the apartment and see all the familiar sights from the best months of my life.
Describe your favorite class. I think one of my favorite classes has to be my French literature class. The professor also happened to be well-versed in theater (she taught a theater class as well), and it showed in how she taught us. Her dazzling, theatrical personality charmed the entire class.I'm known to thrive in that kind of freeing environment, so I *might* have gotten the whole class off on a laughing fit once or twice during the semester. Ah, Madame, how I shall be grateful evermore for your literary puns. Another favorite class of mine was Teaching English as a Second Language. This is a course that is only available to CIEE students, in which CIEE staff guide us through the ins and outs of student teaching. Every week we would work on a practical application of teaching, such as organizing games, creating vocabulary lists, or dealing with rowdy and disobedient students. One of us would be the teacher, and the others would act as students. My favorite week was when I got to be a student who talked back constantly. It was really amazing to see how my friend Taylor dealt with the situation, even as I could see he was becoming increasingly annoyed with me (it's fine, we got crêpes afterwards). Then on another day of the week, we got to actually put our skills to use. I was assigned to teach juniors at a local French high school. It was a really fun experience, and definitely something I would do again.
What was the housing like on your study abroad program? I lived in a suburban area of Rennes. I stayed in an apartment complex with my host mom, Fabienne, and my host brother, Jasmin. Fabienne would always cook new foods for me to try. I learned that in France, each village produces its own unique artisan cheese that they are proud of making. Every week, she bought different cheeses from all the little villages around the area. After a semester living with her, I can say that I have developed a deep appreciation for cheese. You might call me a cheese connoisseur, but that might be a little... cheesy! All right, sorry, I'll stop. To get to school in the morning, I would walk 3 minutes to the bus stop. Then, I would take the bus for about 15 minutes, until I got to Charles de Gaulle, one of the main metro stations in the city. From there, I would take the metro for 10 minutes until I got off at the stop Villejean-Université Rennes 2. And voila! I would arrive at my university. For me, I always enjoyed the commute to school. I've lived in a very small town in Indiana for the majority of my life, and there is no such thing as a metro or even public transportation in my town, which boasts exactly one stop sign. Taking the metro was always exciting for me, even as my other CIEE friends would sometimes make fun of me jokingly for enjoying it so much.
What advice would you like to give to future study abroad students? What can I say that hasn't been said before? If you're still here, reading my long-winded written story time, there's a part of you (big or small) that wants to study abroad. My opinion? Follow that desire! Get out there and see what this planet has to offer. Discover the world! they say. Expand your horizons! they say. Experience a new culture! they say. But it's only until you've actually been there and experienced it for yourself that you realize these catchphrases are only the tip of the iceberg. How can you describe the best year of your life in only a few sentences? How do you choose among the million amazing memories you've made when someone asks, "So, how was study abroad?" It's impossible to explain how much you've changed, how you've come back as a different person. It's one of those things that are best understood in person. So what are you waiting for? Study abroad!