I looked up “rundown” before I posted this, and I found two definitions:
1: a play in baseball in which a base runner who is caught off base is chased by two or more opposing players who throw the ball from one to another in an attempt to tag the runner out
2: an item-by-item report or review : summary (Merriam-Webster)
Just to clarify, this rundown will have absolutely nothing to do with baseball.
My apologies to the sports fans.
So here’s the scoop.
My program: IES Abroad Nantes. There are 40(ish) people in my program this semester, from all over the U.S., and from different universities. I take some of my classes at the IES Abroad center, and others at the Université de Nantes (“à la fac” if you want to be cool).
Courses I’m taking at IES:
French 451 – a general French class where we learn French expressions and eat madeleines (seriously though- the professor brought some in last week!).
France and the European Union- just what it sounds like! Last week we learned that there’s no procedure to expel a country from the EU (though they can be sanctioned).
Teaching Internship- Through IES, I’m interning at a local middle school, where I work 4 hours a week as an English teaching assistant. During the teaching class at IES, we learn more about the French education system as well as about effective teaching strategies.
Courses I’m taking at the university:
Introduction to modern art (lecture class + discussion class)- this class has been my favorite by far! Really interesting, the professor is very passionate about the subject, and I’m learning more about the Sistine Chapel (la Chapelle Sixtine) and Michelangelo (Michel-Ange) than I’ve ever learned before. Currently scheming about hopping over to Rome for a weekend to see it all for myself (apparently there’s a Nantes-Rome flight!).
French culture and civilisation- OK, originally I thought this class was for foreign students, but now I think it’s more like a French-as-a-second-language class? Still slightly confused, all I know is that I am the only international student in the class! Though we do learn about French culture and civilisation, the professor likes to add his own opinions in as well, which makes for a very interesting lecture for this American. On Thursday he used Trump’s election as an example of what happens when the general public is not well-informed… which, as you can imagine, put me, as the only American in the class, squarely in the hot seat! But I’ll save the rest for another blog post.
How I get around Nantes:
The bus! And the tram, to get to the university. I absolutely love how easy the public transportation is in Nantes. Even though I miss the bus on a pretty regular basis (not a new problem- I was always running to the bus in middle school and high school!), I really enjoy the bus and the tram. Each time, I get an inside look at Nantes, and an opportunity to listen to and observe the people around me: A woman with a baguette sticking out of her handbag, a girl with a small pink backpack, a big grey scarf around her neck, two elderly gentlemen talking enthusiastically about the weather….and me, the American who’s still trying to figure out how to put her scarf on without the tag showing!
Where I’m living: In a homestay! I truly think this has been one of the best parts of my experience so far. My family has five (5!) kids, ages 12, 9, 7, plus twin 5-year-old girls! Back home, I’m the oldest of three kids as well as plenty of younger cousins, so I’ve been loving hanging out with my new siblings. To be honest, it can be hard to communicate sometimes (“Comment?” or “Come again?” has been one of my frequently used phrases), and I think I’m still finding my stride in terms of becoming part of a different family, with a different culture and a different family dynamic. At the same time, I couldn’t imagine my experience in Nantes without it. The support from my host family, whether it’s a quick “Bonne journée!” as I dash out the door, or a cake and lunch for my birthday, is invaluable. My favorite moments are the little moments where it really feels like home, whether we’re all sitting around the table talking about our days, or reading books by the fireplace in the living room. It’s during these moments that I no longer feel like the American exchange student staying for a semester, but rather like a family member.