It’s nearly been a month since my arrival in France. These past few weeks have been filled with unique experiences that I never want to forget. It seems like just yesterday, I was calculating the amount of clothing I could bring without surpassing the forty-four-pound weight limit. My nerves were high when I arrived in France, but I couldn’t have been more excited. Fellow AFSers had already arrived at the airport, and we got the chance to socialize as we waited for our trains to depart.
I spent the weekend in a youth hostel with other AFSers. We talked about culture shocks and adjusting to our new routines and lifestyles. We played games and did different activities to get to know each other. The exchange students at the camp came from all over the world. We discussed the many differences and similarities between countries. We also talked about the general stereotypes that we had about each other. Coming from Los Angeles, people had all kinds of assumptions. Even though most of them were inaccurate, it was fascinating to learn what others thought of the city I grew up in. By the end of the camp, I felt substantially more prepared to begin my new life in France.
I met my host family when they came to eat lunch at the camp. It was awkward at first, which was expected since we were all so nervous. But they were all extremely welcoming and kind. I have two sweet host parents: Viringnie and François and a host brother: Antonine. I learned more about them as time went on. We’ve visited different places around town, watched movies, gone bike riding, and more. They are patient and supportive when it comes to my French, and they teach me new words every day. I feel tremendously lucky to have been placed with this lovely family, and I can’t wait to make more memories with them.
School proved to be a challenge initially, but I slowly started to adjust and make friends. School days are longer here than in America. For the first few weeks, I was tired all the time. I’ve slowly gotten used to my schedule, and I have noticeably more energy. Most teenagers in France don’t speak much English, so it’s difficult to communicate and hold conversations besides simple introductions. But everyone is easygoing, and they make me feel welcomed. Before arriving in France, I had only taken a semester course in the language. So I knew the very basics. But after my first month here, I can understand more of what people are saying and respond to some of their questions. Seeing the progress I’ve made gives me hope of reaching near fluency by the end of my exchange year.
The city I live in, Bruz, is a beautiful place filled with trees and old brick buildings. Just twenty minutes away from my home is a city called Rennes. I enjoy visiting Rennes on the weekends or on Wednesdays when school days are much shorter. There are tons of restaurants and shops. As well as captivating architecture from Medieval times. The atmosphere is incredible, and I’m never disappointed when I decide to spend the day there.
My first month has been one for the books. I’ve visited gorgeous places, made new friends, eaten great food, and learned more about different cultures and ways of living. I can’t wait to see what the rest of this year has in store for me.
Until next time,
Captions for photos:
1. Me (Mackenzie B.)
2. Ti Koz (on the right) is one of the oldest buildings in Rennes that dates back to 1505.
3. A street in Rennes that’s filled with different shops and restaurants.
4. One of the many cottages in Bruz that I discovered while on a nature walk.
5. My host mother and I (taking picture, so not in it), walking around Rennes near the Parlement de Bretagne.
6. The marketplace in Rennes that I went to with my host mother.
7. Me trying boba in France for the first time
Note: Mackenzie is on a year program from our Greater Los Angeles (GLA) Area Team (AT) to France, 2021-2022. She is the recipient of a GLA local need-based scholarship.