Last semester, I studied abroad in Nantes, France as part of Grove City College’s study abroad program. In my last post, I talked about why I chose to study abroad, you should check it out! Below I describe what a regular “day in the life” of a student abroad in Nantes looks like.
Grove City College has a European Study Center (ESC) located in Nantes. Not only was the ESC our classroom but it also provided us with food and lodging for the semester. There are three separate facilities: the girl’s house with a fully functioning café, classroom, kitchen and bedrooms; the guy’s house which can house up to 16 individuals; and the director’s house which facilitates a lounge with comfy couches, a flat screen TV and delicious jars of bonbons.
With three houses and 30 individuals, there is a lot of housework. Deb Reuber, co-director of ESC, organizes students into five groups of six who exchange tasks weekly in order to get the job done. Some of our weekly tasks included: preparing meals, cleaning up after dinner, unloading and loading the dishwasher, taking out the garbage, etc. Every Monday, the designated meal team will go to E.Leclerc, the local supermarket, to pick up food for all three houses for that one week. Food shopping normally took a good two and a half hours.
Wednesdays marked mandatory cleanup day which all students participated in with different tasks. Some students were on bathroom duty while others were on household cleanup. Every two weeks, our beds were stripped and Deb took our sheets to the laundromat. Although the cleaning tasks can be tiring and overwhelming, the ESC looked its best on Wednesday afternoons.
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays all students were required to attend French class at 10 a.m. On Monday nights we had our Engineering Management and Cultural Communications class at ONIRIS, a local French engineering university. At the university, GCC and ONIRIS students are paired up and given team building and self-assessment activities to complete. Through my experience I found that the Americans and French will approach problems differently. Americans tend to be more practical while the French are more meticulous and logical. Following every class, students from both schools enjoyed a nice time of food and fellowship at Crescendo Restauration.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we attended GCC courses via simulcast. Because of the six hour time difference, our classes took place in the late afternoon. According to GCC policy, we are required to take 12 credits: two GCC courses, one engineering management course and one language course.
Just like GCC, the ESC has a chapel program where students are obligated to attend church eight times during the semester. We attended a Baptist church in the heart of Boissiere. Following the service, the Reubers took us out to a different restaurant each week to taste different French specialties. My favorite restaurant in Nantes is Amour de Pomme de Terre which means “For the Love of Potatoes.” Every entrée is served with a different combination of potatoes; some are baked, others fried and some are served in a casserole.
Saturdays and Sundays were free days when numerous students will head to the centre ville, the downtown area, for music festivals, creperies and shopping. Nantes’s nightlife takes place throughout the whole city and incorporates French cafes, Irish pubs and live music. The Island of Machines features wonderful nightlife activity with their famous lit up rings along the water’s edge. The best panoramic view of Nantes is found a hundred stories above the ground, at the rooftop bar, The Nest.
I hope after reading this blog post you get a sense of what our daily lives were like in GCC’s study abroad program in Nantes, France.