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76 posts categorized "Rennes Language"

Week 4: Rennes

As our four-week session in Rennes comes to a close, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all been doing a lot of reflecting on the progress we’ve made and the experiences we’ve had here in France. Speaking personally, I’ve definitely been feeling more confident with the French language in the last leg of the trip. Part of it may just be the fact that now I really feel like on some level, I do speak French, and I know from my time here that I can get by in French without relying on translators all the time. For the most part, and in the things that most matter, the locals can understand me and I can understand them. This marks a serious amount of growth for me personally, as I know that my weakest area starting the program was in my listening skills. My oral comprehension has grown remarkably, likely because it’s the skill we use most. Logically, that makes sense: in a classroom setting and in simple conversations with the family, I’m listening more than I’m speaking, reading, or writing.


Thinking back to before the program had started, I think I expected a lot more of a focus on reading/writing, since that’s what I’d had experience with in a language class at school. Now that I’ve gone through the course, I’m not really surprised that the focus was set on speaking and listening, since those are the skills that have the best opportunity for development through interactions with locals and our host families. Activities like discussion circles and daily Q&A’s with the teacher helped reinforce these particular skills. At my school back in the States, I was lucky enough to have a teacher who placed emphasis on interpersonal speaking skills in class, but I know lots of students have never had that kind of experience before, at least not to the extent that we’ve been working with here in Rennes. Another cool thing we’ve been doing as part of the program is presentation speaking, since we present a project via Google Slides once a week. In the U.S., weekly presentations just aren’t feasible. Reading novels and writing essays makes more sense when you don’t have access to a city (or country) full of native speakers.

Throughout the program, a large part of the way I’ve been marking my progress with French has been through interaction with my host family. An easy marker of language acquisition for me is is how many puns I can pick up on in any particular day -- no joke. Maybe it’s my natural partialness to plays on words, but being able to get language-centered jokes in French feels like a little victory. The same feeling comes from successfully holding conversation with locals, particularly through our weekly “Into the Community” activities, which usually require asking three to five strangers a few questions. As someone who’s pretty uncomfortable talking to strangers even in English, these activities have proven difficult for me, but I can still see the value in having spontaneous, natural interactions with native speakers. These activities have probably helped me the most with my listening skills here.

One of my favorite exercises in the class on this trip has been the project from this week. We’ve been working on discussing the things we’ve done, and the things we plan to do before we leave Rennes, before the end of summer, and beyond. It’s an easy way to practice language skills like the future tense and the subjunctive, while also brainstorming the things we want to get done before we leave. It’s become more and more real that our time here is coming to a close, and this culminating project is starting to feel like closure.

My next blog post will (sadly) be my last. We return to our normal lives this Saturday -- wish us luck!

-Sarah T.

'Global Navigator Voices' is a collection of blog articles and pictures by our very own high school study abroad participants. Follow their adventures before, during, and after their experiences abroad!

Week 4: Rennes

After four incredible and indescribable weeks abroad, this past Saturday I sorrowfully returned to my hometown in New Jersey. As my normal life continues, now is the perfect time to reflect on the wonderful journey I just experienced in Rennes and the lasting effect my studies will have on the rest of my academic career.


One of my favorite aspects of the program with CIEE was living with my host mom.  In my opinion, living with my host mom Isabelle was both a great way to practice and take risks with my French as well as create a new lifelong relationship that I will cherish for years to come. It was very hard to say goodbye to Isabelle this past weekend, but I am truly grateful for my time with her and her help in improving my French.

I believe that my French has vastly improved since the beginning of the program, especially with regards to my listening and reading skills. Being surrounded by the French language 24/7 really helped me hone in on my comprehension abilities. It was certainly difficult to understand some of the faster French citizens, but by the end of the month I found it a lot easier to comprehend even the speediest speaker.


Learning through immersion in France is a lot different from just sitting in a classroom here in the United States and learning with a textbook. I really liked how as part of the program the other participants and I took part in activities to get us integrated into the French culture. These activities varied from going on local tours to taking dance classes to even rafting. Other activities included “Into the Community’s”, which as I’ve mentioned before involved going up to locals and asking them questions in order to practice the language. In all honesty, these activities were quite nerve-wracking but I feel that I gained a lot personally by being part of them. For example, I think now I am more outgoing than I was before participating in the program.


As I say goodbye to my life in Rennes, I cannot help but feel excited for how my experiences will impact the rest of my life. Au revoir for now, my friends!  

Shout-out to my friends Hannah, Rene, and Anastasia, who wanted to be featured on the blog! 😊

-Elena M.

'Global Navigator Voices' is a collection of blog articles and pictures by our very own high school study abroad participants. Follow their adventures before, during, and after their experiences abroad!

Notre excursion en Cornouaille

This weekend, we had our last excursion of the program. We went to Cornouaille (Cornwall in English). Although Cornouaille is in the same region as Rennes (en Bretagne!), it is in a different department of Bretagne than Rennes is. We got to visit five different villages in Cornouaille. Here is a map of the places we went!

Excursion map

Our first stop was in Pont-Aven, a small village on a very scenic river. Paul Gaugin lived there for a few years during the late 1880's, so it's a frequent subject in a lot of his paintings from that time. Students had free time in the town to faire un pique-nique, do some shopping and enjoy the views. The most popular souvenir by far were two types of traditional Breton cookies - one called galettes (not to be confused with savory crêpes!) and one called traou mad, which means "good times" in Breton.








After a couple hours of temps libre, we jumped back on the bus to head to Quimper. We enjoyed a guided tour of the city. The students especially enjoyed the beautiful St. Corentin cathedral which has a bend in the middle because the land was swampy when the cathedral was built. After the tour, students had more free time to wander around the city with their amis.













Our last stop of the day was in Concarneau. We stayed at a hostel that was right on the ocean! Climbing on the rocks and wading in l'Atlantique were popular activities for this stop!









After dinner, students explored the old walled city and went to watch a concert that was happening in the main square. Some even went to a spa where you can have fish eat the dead skin off of your feet!









After a good night's sleep, we were back on the bus and heading to Locronan. We had time to explore the city before meeting up for lunch. Rennesgades seem to have spidey senses for finding good cafés and delicious candy because they never come back empty handed!










After another quick bus ride, our last stop was the Château de Trévarez. It is a beautiful castle that was built at the end of the 19th century and the gardens around it are amazing. During World War II, it was occupied by the Germans and bombed by the English. There is still a lot of damage inside because they haven't fully restored it yet. Some students borrowed tablets from the gift shop which allowed you to see what each room looked like before the bombing.








On our way home, most students said that this was their favorite part of the trip so far. They loved seeing all the little towns and having a lot of free time to spend with all the new friends they've made. This last week is definitely bittersweet because students are excited to go home and see their friends and families (and especially pets!!) but everyone is sad to leave Rennes and their new friends. We have an exciting week up ahead with water sports, dancing, juggling and our farewell dinner. 

A bientôt!


As part of the program, every so often the whole group of participants goes on "excursions" to places outside of Rennes. I love going on excursions because I get the chance to learn more about French culture and history while visiting some of the most beautiful locations. Our last excursion lasted all of this past weekend, and we visited five different locations.

I've made a video highlighting just some of the wonders I experienced while on the excursion. Enjoy!

Rennes Excursions

-Elena M.

'Global Navigator Voices' is a collection of blog articles and pictures by our very own high school study abroad participants. Follow their adventures before, during, and after their experiences abroad!


Week 3: Excursions à gogo

Bonjour from the third week in Rennes!

We’ve finished up this week by taking a weekend trip to the coast, at a little town called Concarneau in the more western, Cornouaille region of France.

This has been, by far, my favorite excursion -- we stayed in a hostel on the beach, and had some free time to go exploring on our own before and after dinner. Sans tour guide, me and a group of friends took the opportunity to explore the historical “Vieille Ville” enclosed area of the city, now home to a series of creperies, bakeries, and souvenir shops. A small stage had been set up in the city square for a concert that night as well, so we got the chance to enjoy a bit of music before returning to the hostel for the night to stay in our rooms of four to six. 















 The trips between Rennes and Concarneau also included a few stops for meals and further exploration of the local towns. On the way there, we first visited Pont-Aven, a small town known for its many art galleries and boutiques that we explored on our own time after eating our packed lunches for the day. We then made our way to Quimper, where we followed a tour guide through some of the more important parts of the city, like the Saint-Corentin Cathedral, before exploring the many street vendors and shops on our own. 


The river at Pont-Aven, Pictures from the Château de Trévarez

On the way back, we visited the small towns of Locronan and Trevarez. At Locronan, we had about an hour to see a few shops and art studios, where me and a few other students picked out matching dresses and little gifts to bring home for friends and family. We made friends with a few local dogs we met before heading into the restaurant “Le Prieuré” for lunch. After another hour on the bus, we arrived at the Château (or castle) de Trévarez, an enormous mansion with amazing views of the surrounding landscapes, complete with sprawling gardens and pathways lined with hortencias (the emblematic flower of the Brittany region). On the inside of the house, we read together about the history of the castle and its owner, noting the little differences between the explanations in English and in French.



 Aside from the breathtaking views and adorable little shops, this excursion has been my favorite for two main reasons: first, we’ve had more freedom than ever before on this weekend trip, and second, this has been the excursion that to me felt most unlike anything I could possibly do at home. Language immersion itself is a unique experience that isn’t open to most high schoolers, but to be immersed in language and culture through independent historical and geographical discovery is beyond anything I could have hoped for when I imagined what kinds of “excursions” we might go on during the trip. Hearing from restaurant staff about regional ingredients in food, seeing actual rooms in the Château that were bombed during World War II, and interacting with locals left and right has left me in awe. I’m happy to have come this far, and I look forward to our last week in Rennes. Stay tuned-- until next time, à bientôt!

-Sarah T.

'Global Navigator Voices' is a collection of blog articles and pictures by our very own high school study abroad participants. Follow their adventures before, during, and after their experiences abroad!

Semaine Trois


This week in Rennes went by super quickly because we were very busy. We started the week with a food tour of Rennes. It was délicieux. We started at a crêperie / glacier where we learned about galettes and got to eat our creations. The person who worked there made it look so easy to make the galettes, but as our students soon learned- it's a lot harder than it looks!




DSC_1720 (1)





After all their hard work, students got to eat the galettes that we made, plus some artisanal ice cream from the shop for dessert!

Next, we went to the best chocolatier in Rennes and tried chocolate that was made from several different kinds of local ingredients. Some of the ingredients we tasted were local honey, hazelnut, caramel and fleur de sel (local salt). Luckily they weren't all in the same piece of chocolate!



Lastly, we went to a café where students got to try 3 different types of local apple juice. Some was made with cinnamon - it was delicious!



On Tuesday, we went on a street art tour of Rennes. With the help of a local guide, we searched for examples of legal and illegal street art around the town. Some of it was beautiful...







On Wednesday, we got to check out a French cinema and watch Moi, Moche et Mechant 3 (Despicable Me 3). We enjoyed the movie, and we especially enjoyed the two different types of popcorn- salty and sweet!




On Thursday, we went to a Spadium, which is a huge building with several indoor pools and hot tubs. There was a lazy river and even a water slide!


On Friday, we had the afternoon off so students could relax before our weekend long excursion to Cornouaille. Some students went shopping at the mall, some went to have crêpes, and some went to the planetarium. Check back soon for our pictures from Cornouaille!

Notre Excursion à Saint-Malo

This weekend, the Rennes-agades had an excursion to Saint-Malo. As we learned, Saint-Malo has a rich history of being very independent. In fact, Saint-Malo is one of the only cities that has the right to fly their flag higher than the French flag and there is a famous saying there- "Ni Français, ni Breton, Malouin suis" which means "I'm not French or Breton, I'm Malouin."

We had the opportunity to do two different tours in Saint-Malo, in addition to some temps libre. First, we got to visit the Demeure de Corsaire which is a house that belonged to a privateer. Almost 80% of the town was destroyed by Allied bombing during World War II, but this house wasn't. We learned a lot about what privateers did during peace time and during war and got to see the privateer's warehouse and office.



After some free time for lunch, we got to take a tour of the walled city. It was cold and a little rainy, but the students were troupers! 



The rain cleared up by the end of the tour, and we had some great views from the top of the ramparts. 



We even enjoyed an impromptu concert from one of our own while we were waiting for the bus!




We were exhausted by the end of the trip but we all had a great time.



Week 2: Rennes

During these past two weeks in this program I’ve fallen into a typical routine that I follow on a day-to-day basis. While each day here has been different from the rest, my schedule always has a standard structure that allows me to enjoy my time in Rennes as much as possible.

Each morning I wake up at about seven o’clock and start getting ready for class. In French culture it is important to be properly dressed before eating breakfast, so as such by the time I get downstairs to eat I’ve already fully organized myself for the rest of the day. Breakfast is rather light here, as I typically only eat a small pastry. Once I’ve finished eating my petit-dejéuner, it’s time to start getting to class. While some of the other students have to take the metro or a public bus as part of their daily schedule, my roommate Lauren and I are lucky enough to be about ten minutes walking distance from the university where our courses take place. 

Classes start at nine o’clock and end at twelve o’clock. Each week we have a different unit and a project due on Friday. For example, the unit for this past week was “creativity”, so my class spent the whole week learning about different aspects of French culture like French paintings, songs, and movies. Our project for the creativity unit was to make a magazine highlighting these pieces of culture.

When classes are dismissed at noon, the other students and I are given about an hour to an hour and a half to go out into the city and get lunch. This has become one of my favorite parts of my life here because it allows me to explore the various wonders of Rennes while also discovering new cuisine. One of my favorite meals to get for lunch is a popular dish of the Brittany region called a galette, which is essentially a savory crêpe.


After lunch all members of the program meet the program-leaders at a set location for an “Into the Community” activity. These activities sometimes involve going out into the town and talking to the people of Rennes, using the French language to ask them various questions. Other times we will go to culturally significant locations and take tours as a learning experience. My favorite “Into the Community” so far has been our visit to the Musée des Beaux Arts (Museum of Fine Arts) as I loved seeing and critiquing the numerous French art pieces it exhibited.


The other students and I are given free time after “Into the Community” activities have ended so we can spend time with friends and walk about the city. My friends and I will usually go to a park or visit a local café to enjoy each other’s company.


In all honesty, the free time I’m given after the end of classes and such is something I’ll miss deeply when I go back to the United States. Not only is it fun to relax with friends and enjoy the beauty of the town surrounding us, I also truly believe that I’ve grown as an independent person thanks to these periods.


When we return home, my roommate Lauren and I always have dinner with our host mom Isabelle. Isabelle has been nothing but kind, generous, and helpful to both Lauren and me and always teaches us new things about the French language. The three of us indulge in a different kind of dinner each day; so far I’ve had everything from pasta to ham to even chicken nuggets!

Evenings typically include watching the television and Lauren and me talking with our host mom about topics like French politics versus American politics, the French education system, and animal cruelty. I’ve truly gained so much knowledge through conversations like these as they’ve both taught me about some of the issues in society today while also allowing me to practice my French skills.

The last thing I do each day is go to my room and sleep, which is quite important considering the jammed-packed schedule my daily life in Rennes includes!

-Elena M.

'Global Navigator Voices' is a collection of blog articles and pictures by our very own high school study abroad participants. Follow their adventures before, during, and after their experiences abroad!

Week 2: la vie quotidienne

We’re just ending our second of four weeks here in Rennes, France, where we’ve pretty much gotten into our respective grooves at this point. The navigation of buses and trains now feels routine, our schedules are manageable, and we’re all but immersed in la vie quotidienne, or the daily life, of our French families.

While this comfort has come quickly, it hasn’t necessarily been without some adjustment. A lot of our learning here focuses on the cultural aspects of the homestay experience, and with good reason. I’ve personally noticed quite a few differences both inside of the home and out: inside, we hang our laundry up to dry instead of using a dryer like at home; outside, we always greet neighbors, bus drivers, and store clerks with “bonjour” or “bonsoir;” inside, there’s rarely air conditioning, so temperatures are kept constant with opened or closed windows; outside, we walk in the street with the cars because there often aren’t sidewalks on the cobblestone streets. In any case, this adjustment isn’t necessarily a negative; there’s lots of things I’ll definitely be taking home with me when I leave. For instance, my host family loves visiting small art fairs on the outskirts of town, and taking walks around their neighborhood or nearby sites where nature is in full view. They spend time together outside after dinner, as the weather and late sunset allow for a few extra hours of society. It’s the little things that make France feel foreign, but the big picture is largely the same. My daily routine isn’t drastically different than it would be in the States, which I think has helped us all adjust.

A typical day here starts with waking up around 7. I go through my morning routine as usual, usually eating cereal or a baguette with honey or jam for breakfast before leaving for my bus station. The bus is rarely more than a minute early or late, and I’ve never waited more than three minutes for the train (here called the Metro). I get to the school campus at about 8:45, enough time to say my hellos to friends in other classes before diving into my own. With 48 students in the language intensive program, there are four classes of 11-13, each at a different level of French. The teacher starts each day by asking us if there are any words or phrases we’ve heard from outside of school since we last met that we want to ask her about, and then starts the regularly scheduled coursework. This typically includes videos or images that we discuss as a class that relate to the week’s theme. Week two’s theme was creativity, so we studied different French artists and art forms, ranging from street art to films to music. We take a 20 minute break around 10:30, where me and my classmates usually spend our leftover euro cents to buy thing from the vending machines in the cafeteria and talk. We go back to class for about an hour before lunch at noon, where we have anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours to explore the restaurants of Rennes with the weekly allowance we have for lunch, or our own money if we want that extra crepe.

After lunch, there are a few days each week where we return for another few hours of class. On the remaining days, our travel group of 48 is divided up into three smaller groups of 16, which we join at a set meeting point (usually a Metro station) after lunch for “Into the Community” activities or excursions.


Pictures from our excursion to Mont Saint Michel, an island off the coast of Brittany.

My favorite excursion thus far has been our activity in one of the malls of Rennes, where we explored the shops and boutiques to find out the differences between an American and French shopping center. Most of these activities have to do with immersion into the French culture, as well as the language, which of course we’re using to discuss them. After we finish the activities, there’s a few hours of free time before curfew (8pm on weekdays or 10pm Friday and Saturday) during which I like to go shopping, exploring, or out to a cafe with friends. When I return home, dinner is generally ready around 8:30 or 9, and lasts about an hour or more, including the very French after-dinner conversation. Being in the Brittany region of France means that there are a plethora of local dishes I’ve tried for the first time with my host family, such as les moules, or mussels, served in a salted butter sauce.

After dinner, I’m free to do my homework, check in with friends and family back home in the US, and settle in for my nightly routine. I’ve also been exploring the wonders of French Netflix, since the available titles can vary by country, and watching shows dubbed or subtitled in French keeps me working on improving my language skills even as the day winds down.

So, all in all, as we’ve settled into our new families and new schedules, I think it's safe to say that each and every one of us is learning a lot, at a pace that's right for us. Until next week -- au revoir!

-Sarah T.

'Global Navigator Voices' is a collection of blog articles and pictures by our very own high school study abroad participants. Follow their adventures before, during, and after their experiences abroad!

La Fin de Deuxième Semaine

Coucou tout le monde!

We have officially reached the halfway point of our time in Rennes! The end of this second week has been full of exciting opportunities.

On Thursday, we were all pretty wiped out from our excursion to Mont Saint Michel but a trip to Parc Gayeulles for the quartiers d'été woke us up! It's a festival designed by young people for young people and it happens every summer in Rennes.

We got to make screen-printed t-shirts with the festival logo on them and various other arts and crafts.




We played tir à la corde.


We learned how to play a Finnish game called Molkky.




 And we ate all kinds of snacks! Is anyone else starting to notice that all of our activities involve ice cream? No complaints here!




Friday is presentation day in class, and this week the students focused on creativity. They learned about classic and modern art, music and films and then practiced expressing opinions about them.



In the afternoon, we went to the centre commercial where students got to do a little shopping and figured out which stores they could go to if they needed to buy certain things. Some of us even coordinated outfits!


This weekend we have our second excursion to the pirate city of Saint-Malo! Stay tuned...