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?