Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Celebrating My 20th Birthday in France

I think that everybody dreads their first birthday without any close friends or family, I know I did. I have met so many people here but I never thought that I would find people who I could drag out for a night on the town to celebrate someone they hardly knew, me.  

A few days before my birthday, I decided I needed to break out of the close circle of friends I had established and network. That’s what I’m here for, right? I began to say hi to every acquaintance and make an effort to have a conversation when it was convenient. Luckily, all of the people here are very friendly and want to make new friends as well! I was glad to meet a large group of people and spend a little time with them the days leading up to my 20th!

I must say, my birthday was swell! I rang it in with friends over a cup of tea at midnight and they sang me Happy Birthday! The next morning,  I went with a friend to buy my carte jeune (a student reduction card for the trains), a 50 euro investment that just happened to be only 40 euros that day due to a promotion. Lucky, right? After a long day, I decided to treat myself to a six inch from Subway. I ordered my usual vegetarian sandwich and the employee offered me the ‘steak vegetarian’ to which I gave a confused ‘no’ . It finally occurred to me, and not to late thankfully, that they serve soy “steak” patties at the Subways here! I couldn’t turn down the soy supplement that I have tirelessly searched for in super markets! It’s the little things, really. This was only the beginning of my amazing birthday abroad.

In the evening, I met with a group of eight for my birthday dinner. We all decided on a cute little Italian restaurant in le centre-ville, Italia Trattoria. I ate a delicious pizza with an egg on top! Also, I got a glass of wine, crème brulee, and a café-noir. Thanks for picking up my tab, Mom! At dinner, my new friends gave me a birthday card signed by them all and toasted me. After dinner, the group dispersed and some of us headed to a flat party (a flat is an apartment). I was so excited when I found out there were a lot of French people at the party. After a while, I began speaking French and didn’t stop until the morning. People from all different countries sang me their native birthday songs too! I am so grateful to all of the friends who made my birthday something special.

The weekend ended with me meeting up with a French girl that I met last semester at UNC, Pauline! She also studies at ESC Rennes but is currently doing an internship in Paris so this was the first time we got to really meet. I was so glad to be able to finally talk with her and share our experiences abroad and compare them.

I must say that studying abroad has been life changing. I feel like I find myself more and more everyday.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The past two weeks have been so busy! I cannot believe that it is already the middle of October! My favorite parts of Autumn are finally surfacing and I am loving it here in Rennes.

Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to visit the gorgeous Mont Saint-Michel with my friend Andy from Colombia! We had only about a 45 minute drive through the lovely country side to reach the grand site. Mont Saint-Michel is a truly awesome creation in the middle of a bay in France. The building of this monument began in 709! The history of the entire destination is truly fascinating! Follow to read more about it.

Andy and I made our way into the narrow and steep graded street of Mont Saint-Michel and stopped for a delicious lunch. I enjoyed a delicious vegetarian galette (a Bretagne specialty, something like a savory crepe) and an omelet with melted chocolate for dessert, which was surprisingly delicious. After dejeuner, we made our way up to the Abbey where we joined a couple of other students from our school. Exploring the huge building and seeing the view of the bay at low-tide from the overlook was breathtaking. The architecture and detail of the building was simply amazing. After taking in all of the sites, we headed back down the grand structure and I bought a bottle of Cidre Brut (another Bretagne specialty). All of us, tired after a long day of exploration, zonked out on the bus ride home.

After a little taste of travel, I'm thirsty for more! Currently, I'm planning a trip to Amsterdam for October break and a trip to Spain for Christmas! Can you tell I love living here?

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Month Already?

In the last couple of weeks, life has been full of new discoveries, meetings, and experiences. I have successfully lived in France for one month now and I am loving every moment. It is really interesting how just one month abroad has not only broadened my perspective but made me appreciate all of the things I took for granted over in the States.

I feel so privileged to be attending ESC Rennes. Here I have rediscovered why I chose to study business. I have always felt like a natural leader and here I have been able to use my skills and am learning to develop them in a culturally and globally responsible way. I know that I want a career that will allow me to continuously develop as a person. I hope to find ways a job that has opportunities to travel and establish relationships around the world. I want to find a company whose values align with mine and whose goals better the world we live in. It sounds unattainable but if experience has taught me anything it is that anything is possible if you are willing to work for it.

Last week leaves began to fall and the notorious rainy weather of Rennes struck consistently. Lucky for all of us living here, this week is the opposite! I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather and explore a bit of the city by foot with my friend, Erika. There are so many beautiful sights to take in all around the city. I finally took the time to slow down and enjoy these sights. One of the things I love the most about France is that taking the time for the “little things” is always permitted. Erika and I indulged in one of these little things by sitting in Sainte Anne and having un petit repose.

One of the most amazing things that I have discovered is my new ability to make the best out of a bad situation. Every day that I have had a bad experience or have felt lonely, I have turned around. I am deciding to finally live for the day (while maintaining future goals) and forget the trivial worries that plague me. In other words, I give it to God.

Based on the thoughts I have as I lay in bed every night, I don’t know how I will be able to go back to the life I lead before. I know that the next eight months will fly by and I will have to begin a new way of living back home. I am going to look for opportunity everywhere I go from now on.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”- Mahatma Gandhi 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Learning about myself

This week has been full of learning on many different levels. I cannot believe how lucky I am to be able to have this study abroad experience!

This week I started classes and am remembering why I chose to be a business student. One thing I love about ESC Rennes, is that the students really are here to learn (no matter how much they party). It feels nice to be surrounded by people who value learning and who take part in class projects and discussions willingly.

Tuesday, I had my Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management class. I took the Belbin test in order to find out which role I play in a group and my results were really spot on! I am the "Shaper" who is described as "Highly strung, outgoing, dynamic." I couldn't believe how well the description fit me. I am also glad to see that I really do play an important role in a team (as does every member). My next highest result was the "company worker." Apparently, I am versatile.

On Wednesday, I had the day off and decided to take a dance class offered by ESC. It was so nice to do something familiar, something that I have always loved. I was excited to take the class in French, another opportunity to brush up! I also may have the opportunity to audition for a play that a theatre group is putting on!

This week I've learned a lot about people too. I have finally come to a point where I can strongly and firmly stand up for myself in threatening situations and I am no longer afraid to tell people when something is bothering me. I have found good friends and I have found untrustworthy peers. I am so happy that my circle of good friends is bigger than that of the untrustworthy.

I think that living here alone and figuring out my own path is the best way for me to find myself. I look forward to the next 8 months and all of the wisdom I will gain from studying abroad!

Erika and I after dance!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Back to School!

It's been another eventful day for me here in Rennes! Today I started school and it was the most lovely day to begin anew in my host university.

I was amazed to find that it was still dark today when I woke up and was barely daybreak when I went to catch the bus. I got to my university and promptly found my classroom. I made sure to get a seat right in the centre and had plenty of room for other students (French, I hoped) to sit next to me.

I was amazed at how focused I was in class (International Organizational Behavior). An American professor who has lived in France for two decades teaches it and already brought in a guest speaker. It was so refreshing to get in there and get going right away. I hope that my longer days (8:15am-4:30pm) go just as well as today did!

This evening I also participated in a fitness class put on by the Sports Club at ESC. It was the most intense, crowded workout. To top it off, the girl instructed in French! I was relieved to see that I understood mostly everything she said. I will try a dance class later in the week and I am sure I will decided to join the club. What a great way to meet people and stay healthy! 

Did I mention le chat noir that I met? C'est mignon!!!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Bonjour Everyone,

This is almost my second week here in Rennes and I am loving every second of it! So far, I have done a lot to get my life started here. I have set up my flat, bought a bus pass, and met many people!

I am absolutely amazed at my daily experiences. People have proved to be very accepting and helpful to me throughout the past week and a half. My French speaking is very broken but I am able to get my point across and understand what people say to me.

Today I went to the Lices Market that is held every Saturday. There are so many fresh foods and flowers for sale at extremely reasonable prices! I am really enjoying all of the fresh fruits! I think I spent about 23 euros today on a weeks worth of groceries, which is a good price if you ask me!

Needless to say...

 J'adore mon vie en France!