The first time I set foot on French soil was back in July 2006. I was on my first trip to Europe alone with a company called Contiki Holidays. I can remember vividly how I felt the moment our coach drove off of the Ferry terminal into Calais, I felt a connection, as if I was returning home and not to a foreign land. Paris was breathtaking. I remember walking all around Paris that day not wanting to use the metro or the buses but wanting to feel the streets beneath my feet and experience everything through my senses. That summer I got to visit Paris, Beaujolais Wine Region, Nice, Cannes, Antibe, and drove through St. Tropez. The entire trip took me to 12 European countries and over 20 cities, and afterward France was one of my favorites. I would not return to France for another 5 years. In 2011, I got a summer job working as a language counselor at an English Immersion Camp for French kids. I returned to reprise that role as Assistant Director and then as Director for the next 3 subsequent summers.
During my time working with American Village in France, I got to meet and work with a lot of Americans, Caribbean people (mainly Jamaicans) who had fell in love with France as I had and decided to come and study so they could live here for as long as possible. Through working with this company I also got to experience more of France. Visiting places like Rodez, Aurillac, Cosne d’Allie, Montlucon, Vieux Boucou, Bordeaux, Brive la Garde, Limoges, Vienne, Toulouse and of course Paris.
Every new trip I fell more and more in love and felt like it was definitely a place I was comfortable in. There is nothing more exhilarating than being somewhere that no one knows who you are. They don’t know your family history, you won’t meet someone that knows your grandparents or your parents. No one cares about your religious affiliation or where you went to school. It is the ultimate kind of freedom. A part from that I love French culture. I love manners, and the French hospitality. I love the beauty of the architecture, the endless fields of flowers in the country side, the vineyards in wine country, the beaches (although not as beautiful as the ones of my homeland), the food, the attention and importance given to all Art forms.
I love the civility. When I decided that France was the place for me and I began researching schools I fell more in love with the fact that education is virtually free in France. Not only for French citizens but international students as well.
It was decided. I applied to two French universities and got into both. Was no real admission process anyway you literally just had to register. I decided on studying French Language & Culture full time first so that I could become as near to native fluency as possible. I made the choice to attend CIREFE University of Rennes 2, because their program is known to be one of the BEST in all of France (more on that later). I also choose Rennes because it was two hours away from Paris and one hour away from the ocean.
I’ve been here almost five months and already, in spite of, all of the hiccups along the way and even the ones since I have been here. I know that this is the best decision I have made in my life in terms of ‘life direction’ and I finally feel like I am somewhere I want to be.