Sunday, 5 October 2014 As I sat at my desk yesterday replying to messages from family members and friends, I regarded the windows of the homes across my street which were open to the cool breeze and a hushed afternoon rain. Suddenly I began to hear a lovely instrumental French melody escape from one of the rooftops near my own. At that moment I truly felt as though I had arrived in France. Although I have spent the past few days exploring 9th century chateaux, visiting the fresh seafood, meat, and produce markets, carrying my freshly-baked baguettes through the streets, and enjoying a glass of burgundy wine at a small café managed by a single bartender-things that, to me, epitomized the French culture- I had yet to truly assess my new environment. I had observed it, but I had not absorbed it and as I did so from my bedroom window, I realized how sincerely thrilled I was with my decision to come to Angers. After a relaxing Saturday night of much needed sleep and a bit of Rebel football via Facebook video chat thanks to my parents, I awoke late this morning ready to explore more of the Loire Valley. Florencia, my Chilean hall mate, and I took a long bike ride out to St. Gemmes and its gorgeous gardens along the Loire River. We left our shoes on the bank and spent the next hour wading through the chilly water, sharing our experiences in France thus far, and sitting in the sand, reminiscent of our own beaches in each of the countries we so dearly miss. We returned to our foyer late this Sunday afternoon exhausted from our trip, but feeling accomplished to have ventured to the countryside on our own, discovering enchanting churches and autumn scenery along the way. Each day here I explore unknown territory or expand my knowledge of the world and the people in it. The first five days here have been sublime and I am already anticipating what I will discover tomorrow.