France: Getting in the Groove of Angers

It is week 4 in France; I can’t believe it! These past two weeks have been filled with so many things (including meeting friends, my 21st birthday, picking classes, and many pain au chocolats!)!  This post is a tad long, I will warn you, but it paints the picture of my life here! The next posts should be shorter explaining my adventures.

Below: One of my favorite meals so far, a Croque-Madame, a special ham and cheese sandwich with an egg on top!

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I will start with school (the reason I am here, right?) My school is the Université Catholique de l’Oeust and program is called CIDEF.  I am really enjoying it so far! Last week was a “try-out” week where we could go to all classes offered at our level and decide which ones we would want to take. CIDEF classes are taught at all different levels, but unless you are at about a 500 level French, you take classes with other international students, not French students. This does make sense but it makes meeting actual French students a little hard! If you are interested in the classes I am taking, continue reading this paragraph. If not, you can skip! J Language class is mandatory, and then I chose Grammar, Written Comprehension, History of France, and Everyday French. I think I am really going to enjoy these classes. My professors are really friendly and I have met friends in my classes! It has been hard to get used to ALL classes in French rather than just 1 or 2 like at Ole Miss, but I am going to learn a lot!

Below: Front entrance to my university

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Onto my host family. I LOVE them. I was a bit nervous at first about living with a host family because I had heard some horror stories but that is not my case! I have a wonderful family- there is Valerie, my mom, Laurent, my dad, and Jeanne, my 13-year-old sister! They are very very nice and fun to spend time with, and really help me with my French! Jeanne LOVES the US and wants to be a fashion designer or photographer in NYC, of course.  I also have a housemate, Sophie, from Notre Dame that is in CIDEF as well. We get along great and through her I have met the other Notre Dame students and really really like hanging out with them. We also have another housemate, Midori, from Japan! She is only staying one month, though. I absolutely adore her. I eat breakfast everyday with my family, and dinner 3-4 times a week! Valerie is a marvelous cook, and it is nice to spend time with them and practice my French.  Sophie and I have our own floor, each with our own room, and we share a living room and a bathroom, it is very nice!

Below: Jeanne, Laurent, Sohpie, Valerie, and Midori at my birthday dinner!

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Now for life in Angers! Angers is a beautiful city that has a chateau, many cathedrals, and is a great student city. Usually everyday after class I will walk to centre-ville to look around at the shops, get a hot chocolate, or read by the fountain! My friends and I have eaten at some wonderful restaurants (creperies and souffleries!). There are SO MANY CREPERIES. Like so many. It is great. We walk EVERYWHERE though, so I don’t feel that guilty writing about food. I mean it is France. It is very nice that everything is walking distance. My house is about 8 minutes from the school, and 15-20 from centre-ville. I have explored Angers just walking around, but there are so many things I still want to see, like the Musee de Beaux-Arts et le Chateau d’Angers.  OH we went to the market Saturday morning. It was perfect. So many fresh veggies and bread. It was a tad chilly and foggy, but in the Spring I would love to spend every Saturday morning there!

Below: The theatre and the Market of Angers Image

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And my friendsss. I have been hanging out with the other Notre Dame and Ole Miss students. It is neat because everyone also knows other people and we all get to meet new people all the time! One Ole Miss student and a few Notre Damers have been here the entire year, so they know the lay of the land and have given us newbies many tips! I have also made friends with girls from Canada, Germany, and Mexico! Drew and Susan, two other Crofties from Ole Miss, hosted my 21st birthday and all of my new friends came! It was SO much fun and definitely celebrated properly.  We are planning weekend trips and spring break together, which is super exciting. It is awesome how quickly you make friends in situations like this! I will mention one thing about meeting French people though. In France, friendship is truly considered a life-long investment, so sometimes people won’t want to become close to a student that will be here for a semester. For example, a French girl may have 3 BEST BEST BEST friends whom she is extremely close to, while in the US, it is normal to have tons of “best friends.”  We are a little worried about meeting French students, especially since we don’t have class with them, but CIDEF has different activities to meet with French students and get to know them, which will be good.

This weekend I am going to Mont-St. Michel, a chateau on an island when the tide is hide but connected to land when the tide is low!

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