Thursday, September 11, 2014

the red beret: return to Europe

Bonjour à tou(te)s! 

The red beret is in France!  I've been on this side of the ocean for almost three weeks, and today marks two weeks in Rennes, the capital of Brittany, where I'm living until late December.  I'm attending CIREFE at the University Rennes 2 as part of an exchange through Nazareth College, my "home" university where I'll return in January to continue my studies.

Classes for us begin the 15th of September, so I've had a good amount of time to get used to the city of Rennes.  I'm here with a group of students from Nazareth (we're 8 total) and we do have some activities together.  Just yesterday we had our "pre-entrance" day at CIREFE, which is a faculty just for French as a second language.  Last week we took a placement test for our French level, and yesterday we met our professors and chose classes.  I'm in C1, which is the highest level offered during the fall semester, so I had a lot to choose from!  I'm in the "Literature" option.

But I'm jumping ahead here.

Before we got on the TGV to come to Rennes, we spent our first five days in France discovering Paris.  I had been there once before, in 2010 when I was living in Luxembourg, but it was lovely to see things again...and in warmer weather! 

I started my own trip on Saturday, August 23rd in Ogdensburg ("started" being a very loose term, since I've left out the trips to NYC for the visa, to and from Rochester, moving back to Ogdensburg, etc.).  In any case, my parents drove me from Ogdensburg to Montréal and brought me to the airport, before heading off for their own adventure in Québec City.  The plane left just before 5pm EST.  I didn't sleep during the 6-hour direct flight to Paris, but I did watch a movie.

My plane arrived in Paris at 5am, earlier than scheduled.  I had been directed to wait for some of the other students, so that we could take a taxi together into the city.  Four and a half hours later (it's a really really big airport), we found each other and were headed into Paris.  I had a nice chat with the taxi driver, and forty minutes later, we arrived at our hostel in Le Marais.

The next four days were a blur of jet lag and sightseeing.  I had a wonderful time getting to know the Parisian streets and cafés, and the other students.  The following photos are actually taken (with permission) by Jessica, a fellow Nazareth student and excellent museum buddy.  I conveniently left the cord connecting my camera to my computer in North America...

Notre Dame

Our group spent the second rainy morning in the Louvre, but Jessica and I opted to stay the whole day while the other students walked around St. Germain des Près.

hiding in the Louvre

At long last, we found Jessica's favorite painting!  We also did an extremely accurate photographical re-creation of said painting while exploring Montmartre the following day.

Can you even tell which one is real?? (the clothes give it away, I know...)

Marketplace at Montmartre
Espace Dali at Montmartre

 There was a cool little museum on Montmartre dedicated to Salvador Dali, which we poked around after lunch and a visit to Sacrée Coeur.

And of course, we visited L'arc de Triomph and La Tour Eiffel...

 Our last day in Paris, we visited the Musée d'Orsay, which is in a converted railway station.  It has one of the largest collections of Impressionist paintings in the world.

I'll be back to tell you about Rennes.  Cheers for now!