Sunnier Days

Erin B. is one of our many students that are currently taking on their world abroad. Here is a post from her blog about her life in Rennes, France:

“Finally, after at least 2 full months of cloudy, rainy, cold days every single day, the sun has arrived to Brittany. The winter here is indeed a mild one- there was only one small flurry of slushy snow earlier in January, but besides that the weather has stayed somewhere between the 30s and 40s Fahrenheit. Compared to a Michigan winter it was nothing to complain about. But now it’s often warmer in Michigan than it is here, and may I remind you I’ve spent the last few winters in Texas, where winter does not exist. Usually, rainy is my favorite kind of weather. But day after day of dark and cloudy skies with all departures from my dorm hindered by the constant drizzle and a nipping cold to boot was starting to wear me down. Now the clouds seem to have drifted away for the time being, leaving in its wake a much-appreciated sunshine. The temperature still hasn’t lifted above 55, but just the added vitamin D is enough to merit a serious boost in mood for me. At this point, I can only hope the sun stays because a couple more weeks of endless rain might drive me to lunacy.

However, with the sunshine came an unprecedented wave of school work. As I may have mentioned, the English program that I’m a part of is of a much lower intensity than I’m used to, something I’ve been all too happy to accept. This changed dramatically about two weeks ago, when, on a Monday night, we were informed that starting the next day we would be starting and finishing a 5-session course on policy analysis, with a similar schedule the following week. This meant an entirely new class schedule on top of my existing one, with several of the new classes conflicting with my existing ones (with all the bureaucracy here one might have at least hoped it would be effective). This meant studying a subject for 4 days and taking an exam on it on the fourth day, and then doing it all over the next week. These two weeks were stressful and busy and frustrating. Having to miss class to  go to class made me feel like Hermione in the Prisoner of Azkaban, only without the timeturner. Of course, I made it through, but the extra work load seems like it will continue all the way until the Spring Break in April.

However, even amidst this intensified workload there were bright spots, particularly that I was able to host my first visitor, my dad. Though the visit was short, I was able to show him some of my favorite spots in the city, show him the true tininess of my dorm and make sure he got the chance to taste some real French food. Even though I’ll always tell people that being here isn’t that different from being in Austin in terms of being used to not seeing my family for long periods of time, it’s always nice to see a little bit of home. Beyond the visit, bright spots have been ordinary ones like eating grilled cheese with friends, celebrating birthdays, and just taking time to sit in the sun with a coffee.

This week has continued the trend of piling schoolwork, with a major group project and, most frighteningly, an oral presentation in French- just me, talking in French for 15-20 minutes. No matter the context that’s enough to make any beginning French student shiver. If I’m being honest, writing this blog is just another form of procrastination I’m employing to avoid working on tomorrow’s presentation. My other major form of distraction has been trip-planning for my Spring Break. My sister was kind enough to plan absolutely everything for the trip we’ll take together in the second week of the break, but for my mom’s and my one-week jaunt around Eastern Europe, the duty fell to me. In between bouts of translating my scrambled thoughtsgm into coherent French, I’ve enjoyed escaping into the depths of google- mountain lodges, cable cars, salt mines, catacombs – to plan the perfect trip. Now, mostly planned, I couldn’t be more excited, and I’ve begun counting down the days. Counting down to seeing my family, to travelling to a planned number of at least 4 countries in 2 continents, and to just taking a break from my busy life in Rennes.

As I’ve said before, Rennes is truly a lovely city, and I think it’s very well-suited to a semester study abroad. But now that I’ve made a life here, Rennes has not only the exciting connotations of travel and adventure, but also connections to things like paperwork and banking and essays and cleaning out my dorm. Therefore, I think the break will be much-appreciated as a time away from my every day life, an opportunity to see new parts of the world and some familiar faces. As I push through the next two weeks to make it to the break, I can only hope for more sunny days to get me by.”

Thank you, Erin, for continuing to share your experience with us!

If you’d like to read more stories on her adventures, check out her blog:

https://erininrennes.wordpress.com/

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