The France group arrived in Paris, changed planes and are en route to JFK!

After some early morning, tearful goodbyes between our students and their host families at the Rennes airport, our students boarded their flight on time for Paris. The group changed planes in Paris and boarded Air France flight #6 for JFK. They are currently en route to New York and are scheduled to arrive at JFK at 3:55pm EST. I will update this blog once they have landed.

Saying goodbye to their host families at the Rennes Airport.

Boarding their flight to Paris.

Ready to take off for JFK!

It’s hard to believe it was our last day at Lycée Saint Martin and in Rennes today. The students were feeling mixed emotions today as they thought about leaving this charming city and their new friends to return back to Farmington. They spent one last morning observing French classes and then had an exciting afternoon — filled with Breton dance lessons and a crepe making tutorial! They are off enjoying their last evening in their host families and will plan on meeting tomorrow morning at the airport!

Enjoy these pictures from today — and be sure to check back on Sunday for some more videos and updates from the end of the trip.

learning the first circle dance!

putting the steps to music!

getting the ingredients/ batter ready!

learning how to pour the batter in a thin layer!

learning the magic of flipping!

What a delicious and fun way to end our day! That you to all of our hosts at Lycée Saint Martin — this trip could not have been possible without the hard work and hospitality of Thierry, Marie, and Charlotte. We had such a fantastic two weeks, learning, sight seeing, and taking in all that makes France so charming and magical. We had the privilege of visiting three different regions, five cities, and one amazing high school. We also want to thank Sophie and Amanda for their dedication to us — organizing and coordinating this wonderful opportunity. We are so appreciative of being able to make new friends, try delicious cuisine, develop our French skills, and so much more.

See everyone back in the USA! We will be sure to post some final thoughts and pictures/ videos from our wonderful trip!




Les Plages de Débarquement

What gorgeous weather we had today as we traveled to Normandy to see Utah Beach and museum, in addition to Omaha Beach and the American cemetery. It was a very moving experience for the students to learn more about World War 2 and the events that took place on D-Day. It was surreal for them to stand where such a decisive battle took place and to wander the cemetery and honor the brave soldiers who lost their lives. Below you can find some pictures and reflections from the day.

Utah Beach Museum

Kami: Today we went to Normandy and it was not only incredible, but incredibly surreal. Walking in the beach, hearing the stories, and seeing the graves made the impact history should. I.t was incredible to how recent this is and how important I.t was that this happened.  There was no communication on the ground they could on trust and fought democracy worldwide. As I was speaking to another student I was saying how important I.t is to be here, not only because the holocaust is the part of history I am most interested in, but because of how these things really happened. I.t was very moving to know that these people fought and gave their lives for others and they didn’t even know the impact or they people they didn’t even realize they were fighting for. Normandy was a pivotal part of world history and truly exemplified how we much work for each other because we share this planet. It was incredible to watch the bravery and see the thousands of people buried. Normandy was so moving because War is so greedy, and to see how people give so much to it later is later appreciated, it is truly a sight.

The group in front of Utah Beach

Zoe: Today at the American Cemetery in Normandy, I was able to find the grave of my great great uncle, Paul Button Snyder. The whole day we had been learning about the “operation overlord” and the incredible feats the allied forces were able to achieve in Normandy. It was absolutely incredible to see the beaches where the largest military intervention in history take place, and humbling to see the American cemetery where 10,000 sons, fathers, and brothers were laid to rest. After seeing the memorial in the cemetery, I went by myself to find my great great uncle. Seeing the grave was much more emotional than I thought it would be because even though I did not know him I still felt an immense sense of gratitude and pride towards him. I stayed for just a few respectful moments to process and appreciate what he and every person around me gave their lives for. I will never forget my experience at Normandy.

a beautiful rainbow over Utah Beach

Susan: Our trip to Plages du débarquement was educational and touching for me. Even before we arrived, French people kept expressing their genuine gratitude to the United States for what the allies did to liberate France. Even though half of the century has passed, the French, especially people in Normandy, still remembered and connected the history very well and the history was subtly affecting their life. When we got to the two museums—one for the Utah Beach and one for the American cemetery—we watched several short films on D-Day. In these films, there were introductions and interviews on the soldiers that sacrificed in the war. When we actually got to know more about the person behind the soldier figure and when we saw their faces, their family, their life stories, it was more powerful than anything. As we slowly walked to the cemetery, we were talking how we could only imagine their situation, but we would never know exactly how they completed this attack that was important not only to France but to Europe and to the whole world. As an international student, I felt really sentimental as well while walking through the enormous land with white crosses curved with names. This meaningful trip definitely made me more emotionally connected to the history I knew about.

10,625 soldiers buried in the American cemetery

Martha and Robi in the American cemetery

Omaha Beach



Today, we visited the Plages du Débarquement in Normandy. Our first stop was the Museum at Utah Beach. My experience today was extremely different than any I have ever experienced. I have been learning about WWII ever since I can remember, but I had never been able to fully connect and understand the horrors of the war until today. At first, the museum seemed normal, but as I read and saw all that had been conserved from the war, I was amazed. The museum had original letters addressed to the soldiers, original medicine left from the war, money, cigarettes, clothes, flags, and even maps marked with the original annotations for D-day. l cannot believe the museum was able to find all of these objects, and keep them for future generations to see. I am also very surprised that such meaningless objects that were used in everyday life had such an impact on my view of the war.

All of these objects were very shocking, but what impacted me the most was a letter written to one of the marines who died in the USS Rich by his girlfriend. It was burnt and torn in half, but parts of the text were still visible. It read “There are so many little things I would (…) know about you so I would know things to write about, (…) that when I see you we can talk about them, so I am starting a list so that someday when we are together, I won’t forget to talk about them”. This letter broke my heart. I was also in shock by the fact that many of the soldiers had my age when they fought in the war. They had many pictures of the soldiers and marines in various parts of the museum, and we later saw a video that told the stories of the lives of many of them. This experience made my view on the war much more personal, since I could relate to many aspects of their lives. My experience today reminded me that each person is “writing” their own story, and that many people are not able to finish it, which is why I must be grateful for what I have and realize how lucky I am.

*parts of the quote were not visible, which is why I quoted them like this: (…)


Photos from Tania:

Updates from Rennes — Wednesday!

Today, we had a half day of class observations and and English class at the lycée. We had so much fun in English class! We participated in almost a “speed dating” activity, where we quickly moved from one conversation to the next with the French students. It was a blast! After that, the students had a free afternoon with their French host sisters!

Below, we are reflecting on empathy, one of our four core values. Being in a language immersion program — with our host families and at the high school, has given us lots of opportunities to put ourselves in other peoples shoes and appreciate the exchanges of both language and culture that have taken place.

Zoe: Throughout this trip we have had several different English classes in which we help the french students with their written and spoken english. In all of the classes, we have people with varying levels of english and it’s not easy to interpret what they will or will not understand. During one of my classes I used the word “biased” and they had no idea what I was talking about so I had to explain it to them but then used language too complicated for them. In that moment, I had to realize that they are in a similar situation as me and they are trying hard to understand the language but I need to simplify it a bit for them.

It can be difficult and daunting to try to speak to a native speaker in their language especially if you are not fluent. I am dealing with that for many hours every day but it is no easier a task for the french students. After having some confusing interactions with different french students I was able to find the empathy to adjust myself to their needs instead of just speaking like normal. For me to succeed in France, I need my family, teachers, and other citizens to have empathy for me by slowing down, using less complex language, and being patient, and I need to have the same for others.

Laura-Joëlle: I came to France so that I could gain a better appreciation for French culture and improve my language skills. Unfortunately, I have to say that I haven’t taken advantage of my time here as much as I had wanted to. The truth is, I haven’t had fun 24/7 during this trip because I’ve missed home, school, friends, family, etc., and I was really nervous about interacting with my host family–I wanted to be respectful and not say anything offensive by mistake. Well, it’s safe to say that this plan backfired since I’ve also been nervous about speaking French (mainly due to the fact that I’m too caught up in making mistakes), so I didn’t realize that I was minimally communicating with my host family, which worried them. Now, I’m so grateful for what my host parents did: they talked to my teachers who explained the situation to me, which was when I realized that the trip is almost over and I’ve barely gotten to know my host family. Tonight at dinner, I had a conversation with my host family about their concerns, telling them what was going on, and they were so understanding about the whole situation; now we’re in agreement that over the little time I have left here in France, we’re going to have meaningful discussions and learn about one another’s culture more. My nervousness surrounding my host family is gone, and I feel a lot more comfortable now that the situation has been handled in the way it was, thanks to my host parents’ empathy for me.

Empathy has been a really important part of the trip especially with the language barrier. As my host student practiced English and sometimes struggled to find the words, I noticed how similar it felt sometimes to speak French. Having to switch my brain, embrace the language learn new vocab, I grew to understand her perspective. I could put myself in her and understand how hard it is to speak another language and we could understand how to help each other when we are struggling. Having my host student try English while I try French was a really nice experience while also difficult, but I’m glad I could understand. I.t was very difficult at first because my speed with French was not great due to nerves but once we began to validate each other and understand each other the nerves left. Empathy with a language barrier really aids connection

Laura Joelle and Zoe enjoy English class!

Susan: During our trip, empathy was one of the most important values. On the first night in Rennes, I was not used to the French-speaking environment yet, so the ongoing conversation was hard for me to follow. At some point, the mother of my host family noticed that I was having difficulties understanding, so she reminded everyone to slow down their speaking whenever we were discussing something. After that, they wanted to include me in all of the conversations, with their friends or other family members. After each meal we had, they would check and ask me if I understood the conversation at the table or if they were speaking too fast. They also encouraged me to speak more and to practice my French, and they would correct me as needed when I made a mistake. They were being extremely understanding, empathetic, and patient about me learning and trying to comprehend the language, which I have been so grateful about the entire trip.

Tanya, Susan, and Tania in front of the bistro in Vitré

Tanya: Empathy is another important core value that we demonstrated throughout the trip. With the language barrier it is important to show empathy towards people who are trying to speak English just as how I hope people would show empathy to me with my French. It is important to understand that it is a second language and it can be really difficult for some people to learn a foreign language since it comes easier to some than to others. When demonstrating empathy patience is essential because it may take people a while to form the correct sentence in their head, keeping in mind conjugations and grammar, before saying it. Speaking another language is rarely instinctive and smooth flowing. Luckily everyone that I have met here has been extremely empathetic and understanding towards my French.

Tania: My host family has been very empathetic throughout Intermission. They always make sure that I feel welcome and are very attentive. From the first day, they have tried to make sure that I am comfortable. They always offer snacks, water, “picnics” for excursions, metro tickets, etc.

During our first few days in Rennes, I had trouble understanding French. My host student noticed this, and since then, has been very attentive. She is great at speaking slowly and recognizing when I do not understand something. If I don’t understand a word, she immediately tries to explain it in an easier way. Her family also does the same thing. They are very patient, and help me when I don’t know/forget some words in French. They also always try to create conversation, which is very helpful. I think they have realized that I am the kind of person who talks a lot when someone else starts a conversation. This has helped me get to know my host family, and be able to bond with them. If it were not for their empathy, I don’t think I would be as comfortable speaking French. I would probably feel judged, and would be embarrassed to talk. I am very thankful that my host family is very understanding in this matter.

Reflections: Part 2

Today, our students are reflecting on opportunities where they’ve been able to practice their leadership skills during the trip. Some wanted to relate this reflection to their experience at Mont Saint-Michel today.

Zoe: At Mont Saint Michel on Tuesday we were able to see some amazing sights and spend time with friends but it was extremely cold. Everyone was struggling to keep warm throughout the day because the building does not have any heating so we almost never went inside to warm up. Even though she could not completely warm us, Darian kept telling us to zip up our coats, gave us scarves, and kept our minds off the cold so that we could still have a good day despite the temperature. It is always difficult to focus on something if you are too cold or too hot which is unfortunate because at Mont Saint Michel, we were in the presence of such beauty and Darian made it possible for us to appreciate it and spend our time admiring instead of complaining.

One of the main qualities of a leader is being able to keep people on task. In France that idea is most prevalent because this is a once in a lifetime experience and it would be a shame to waste it. Everyday we have the opportunity not only to practice our language but also to immerse ourselves in another culture and witness incredible buildings, towns, and people. Being able to focus on that as opposed to something as mundane as the cold is very important and by doing that Darian demonstrated key leadership qualities.

Laura-Joëlle: When we went to Mont Saint Michel today, after climbing the seemingly endless amount of steps, we arrived at the entrance of the castle’s museum and had to decide on languages for audio guides. Most people decided to go with English because that is easier to understand than the fast-speaking narrator in French. However, Kami decided to go with French after everyone voted for English. Up until that point, I had been fine either way with English or French, but Kami’s decision inspired me to choose a French audio guide so that I could improve my language further. That is one of the main reasons we went to France for InterMission after all. Anyway, I was surprised I could understand almost all of what the narrator was explaining about Mont Saint Michel except for a few vocabulary words here and there. So in the end, I was happy with the French audio guide, but I wouldn’t have had that experience if it weren’t for Kami’s leadership in our language learning.

Darian: Today we took a trip to Saint- Michel. I remember when I was young I saw a picture of Saint-Michel and was entranced by the sea and the architecture but I had no clue where the Abbey in the photo was. To actually go there after all that time was quite amazing. My favorite part of the Abbey was this large wheel in the middle of quite a small room. With the help of the audio guide I had learned that the wheel was installed when the Abbey was a prison in 1872. The wheel was used to hoist materials such as wood for the fires and food.

Tania: Today, we visited Mont Saint Michel. The island never ceased to surprise me. The view from the start was impressive. You could see a large extension of sand, which would then get to the ocean. The island is surrounded by water during the high tide, and by dangerous sand during the low tide. This made Mont Saint Michel’s location ideal, since it served as protection from its enemies. Its original settlers must have been very smart, since they were able to see potential in a rocky island.

I have always been interested in French History, and have seen many documentaries and Tv shows because of it. With the help of my previous knowledge and the audio guide, I was able to imagine how many rooms inside the monastery would have looked like. Some were very elegant, while others were simpler. There was a specific room that really resembled one I saw in a Tv Show: the “party” room. This room must have been very flamboyant, since its purpose was to receive many guests.

Susan: Throughout our stay at Lycée St. Martin, everyone in our group demonstrated leadership during the English classes we had with the French students there. In each class, each one of us would usually be arranged into smaller groups with French students. For a lot of the times, we needed to take the initiatives and to guide the conversation in order to help them with their English speaking or writing skills. For instance, we were once in an English literature class, in which their assessment was to write a gothic short story in English and we were there to help them with ideas, structures, vocabularies, and grammar. All of us stepped up and helped them with creating their stories from beginning to the end, as well as looking for topics or fun stories to let them know more about America. I think leadership particularly plays an important role in exchanges, for both us and the local students.

Joi: Despite all of the cold air and forceful winds, today’s excursion was full of excitement, history, and wonder. We had the pleasure of traveling to Mont Saint-Michel, which is an island home to a grand chateau, first constructed in the late 10th century. After mounting over 300 plus stairs, our audio guided tours were filled with detailed descriptions of each room’s purpose, artwork, or evolution over time. As we entered the former dining room of the chateau, I overheard someone say “Imagine living here in this big castle all by yourself. What would you even do with all of this?” That comment prompted me to take in the reality of this excursion. I suddenly realized that this was not like going to any other museum, because this centuries-old structure held the lives, stories, and hard work of thousands of different people within its walls. The audio tour provided information that was descriptive enough to imagine what the chateau would look like if it were full of people who were using it the way it was intended to be. I found this to make our visit much more insightful as it gave the rooms throughout the huge old stone building some personality, from the many places of worship to even the quarters that housed prisoners. Another interesting comment I overheard was when Robi mentioned “No one ever lives to see their creation. They all died before it was ever finished.” This caused me to take a deeper look at the power of impact. The people who first broke ground on the construction of Mont Saint-Michel probably had no idea of how long the building would last, how much it would expand, or even how useful it would be throughout the course of history. However, despite not having this knowledge they dedicated incredible amounts of time and effort into fortifying this structure, and it seems as if their efforts have now paid off. We, as students, are fortunate enough to see this fortress, as a structure that  provides so much information about history and culture has developed over time, but to those who lived and worked within it was just their home/workplace. I am grateful to have had this opportunity to visit Mont Saint-Michel, as it has made rethink the ways we interpret the world around us as well as the impact that we will leave for those who follow.

Kami: To day was Mont St. Michel which was a really fun bonding experience to go up those stairs! But I think that the France group is gelling really nicely. As a group of strong leaders, I think that we all balance the ways we lead with each other and often work together. I think there is strong balance especially in groups to keep each other moving and make sure everyone is going the right way. Specifically, when we were choosing between things to do in Paris, I.t was nice people were able
To advocate and say the group should go to the louvre for a better experience and more free time. And today we were unsure of when to eat and we discussed it and knew how helpful it would be if we ate after so we didn’t walk on full stomachs. A lot of the decision we make are really helping each navigate and have best time possible here in France especially when it comes to times.


Mont Saint-Michel

Today, we had an awesome trip to Mont Saint-Michel! It was a “first” for all the students and Robi, which was really exciting! It was a bit cold and windy, but we persevered to take in this special monument of Normandy!

We had a lovely tour of the island — including a climb to the top, a tour of the monastery, and lunch at a local restaurant. As if the island itself isn’t enough of a wonder, the monastery is just magnificent. The architecture, details in the design and materials, and sheer size of the fortress are just amazing. It’s hard to imagine how this establishment was originally constructed and maintained over time. The girls certainly enjoyed taking in its grandeur, as they climbed and enjoyed listening to an audio guide, which provided extra information.

Here are some beautiful photos Tania took: 

Reflections: Part 1

This week, we will be sharing our reflections on the four core values of our class: connectedness, empathy, self-awareness, and leadership. Each day, students will share about experiences from our trip, in which they have called upon these traits.

Susan: In the past week we spent in France, I found that the portion of the meals here are normally much bigger than my usual meals. Sometimes, when I saw people around me finishing up or already finished their meals but I still had half of the dish in my plate, I felt uncomfortable, since I did not want to waste my food or to make them think I did not enjoy my meal. For instance, last Friday, I attended a dinner gathering at a nice Italian restaurant with my host family and their family friends. After the appetizers, I was already pretty full for the night. Even though my main course was not the biggest, all of the other people at the table finished their plate and started chatting and waiting for me to finish. It was an awkward situation for me because I felt obligated to finish it as everyone else did, but I physically could not at the same time. However, I was so grateful that my host family noticed that and very kindly told me that I did not need to finish if I couldn’t. Afterwards, when we were on our way back to the house, I explained to them that the food was amazing but I just cannot eat much; they were extremely understanding about that. Although I felt awkward and was put out of my comfort zone in the moment for being self-aware, communication and understanding were always the best solution.

Joi: This evening my host sister asked me if I would like to help her with a homework assignment, and I f course, I said “yes.”I read aloud her responses to questions for her French class while he typed it up into a document. When they first described the assignment to me, I was more than happy to help, but when I actually realized that all of the writing would be in French, I grew a little nervous. Not only was the text in cursive, (which I already have a little trouble reading) but it was full of French vocabulary and grammar that was completely unknown to me. I thought to myself to just be confident, because this trip has made me realize that the more I anxiously think about speaking a different language, the more I tend to stress too much and make simple mistakes. However, I had forgotten that not only was I reading aloud, but I was also making sure that her father typed her work correctly, and sure enough we were stumped after only the first sentence. After addressing the confusion, I eagerly apologized for my mistake. That was definitely not my first blunder with the French language, and it certainly was not my last while completing this assignment. The living room was full of phrases like  “What’s that?“ “I don’t understand, ”  “I don’t know that word,” or “Repeat that again.” Despite our consistent struggling, my host father expressed his confusion in a very kind and understanding way. He was more than happy to help me correct my pronunciation or define a word that I didn’t know. He was also very happy to learn the matching vocabulary and expressions in English, which I actually found really fun to explain!  I was so grateful for his empathy, as the past week has been filled with us students facing challenges with the language barrier at home, at school, and all around the city of Rennes and the rest of this region. This was just one of the many kind acts of my host family that has made me so comfortable with tackling the language immersion of this trip. After helping with this homework, not only do I know more French words and expressions, but I also feel more confident in immersing myself fully throughout the rest of our trip.

Kami: Today when we went to the Vitré, a small city South of Rennes with a large castle and typical city.  It was super beautiful and a great wait to end the day after teaching the English classes to student and seeing the how differently the schools works. I’m really enjoying learning about the churches and history and society. As I improve my French, it is getting easier communicate how I am feeling.  As the days continue and we discuss our four qualities, we have begun to ask questions.  Our question that I am using today it How does being self Aware put you out of your comfort zone and how did you react?
As I continue to want to improve my French, it is hard when there is one word that I am unsure of or don’t know and it sort of wavers my confidence.  Today in the restaurant in Vitre, I was super nervous to speak the French teacher with us.  So after a bit I began to speak to her and tell her about my family and when I forgot the word for spoon, I took a risk and guessed.  It was similar today when I helped the French student with English and I was asked to speak French. Not being able to communicate the way I spoke before in English, I was nervous but they continued to say how good I was and how impressive my accent was. It was really great to get to learn to make mistakes and speak with new people who are not used my new French skills.

Laure Joelle: This past weekend, I went to a baptism reception with my host family. I was out of comfort zone then because I wasn’t expecting a huge celebration and party (and I didn’t know it was a baptism celebration in the first place), so I was very underdressed. I guess in a sense I was acutely aware of myself in that I clearly stuck out like a sore thumb because of the way in which I presented myself in appearance, but I didn’t mind so much as it got more into the evening. I decided that I just couldn’t do anything about it, so I just went about by way as I normally would, and I actually got to know a lot of my host sister’s extended family members. It turned out to be pretty fun because I got to experience a new culture (the family is Algerian). I apologized to my host family because I wasn’t dressed as formally as I (probably) should have, but they completely understood the whole situation and told me not to worry about it.

Tania: Staying with a host family has forced me to be more self aware of my behavior. At home/Porter’s, I would never go more than 1 day without speaking Spanish, and I would socialize by speaking a language that I am fluent in.

This past week, I have had to experience communication in a language that I am aware  I cannot fully understand and speak. There have often been language barriers, like when I forgot how to say “wear” in French and was very embarrassed after I thought it would be the same word in Spanish. I have also had to communicate in French with my host family, since they are not fluent in English. They have been very nice and conscious about me not being fluent in French, but there are still many conversations I cannot understand. There have also been times where I cannot express myself clearly, since I don’t know enough words in French to do so. All of these examples have pushed me out of my comfort zone, since making conversation is not as easy as it is at home. I have had to be able to communicate in a way that I have never had to before. Recurring to the use of body language to communicate, and having to recognize certain looks on people’s faces to fully understand what they are saying, etc are some examples of extra work I have had to do in order to communicate during this Intermission trip. This has all been very challenging, but also a great learning experience.

Darian: One situation where I was self-aware and it put me out of my comfort zone was when my host mother and I spoke about the culture of smoking in France. In this situation, self-awareness helped me because I was aware of my own boundaries while being open to learning. I have an emotional boundary with smoking because my grandfather died of lung cancer. Many of my family members talk about how much of an amazing man he was and I wish I could of met him. In knowing that he died of lung cancer and knowing the health consequences that smoking carries it was hard for me to understand why smoking is such a large piece of everyday French culture. My host mom shared with me that when she was young she smoked and that you used to be able to smoke on international flights. She also shared that after people in the United States became aware of the deficits that smoking has on your body many US cigarette companies began to push a lot product into countries like France who were not test aware of the health consequences. I respected my boundary with smoking while being able to understand and empathize with another culture.

Zoe: When I was very young I saw lambs for the first time in real life and thought they were absolutely adorable but did not know that they were eaten as food. I went to a grocery store with my parents and saw that they were serving lamb and started to cry. I have never eaten lamb because of my moral obligations. On Sunday night it was time for dinner and I asked what we would eat but didn’t know the french word for ‘lamb’ so my host father showed me a picture of a lamb. This moment was very difficult for me because I did not want to be a difficult houseguest, did not entirely know how to explain why I don’t eat lamb, and I didn’t have the vocabulary for it. Nevertheless I figured out a way to get out of my comfort zone instead of just eating the lamb.

Whenever I stay with friends or family I am always very cautious to be an easy and low- maintenance house guest and become very uncomfortable when I have to ask for something or express my distaste. Normally it not too bad because I am fluent in english and I know the people I am staying with but in France, neither of those two are a reality. I know myself and I know my boundaries but sometimes it can be difficult to say no. I found it in myself to do just that and it payed off in the end. My host family is so understanding and so sweet so it was not a problem; I just had to get out of my own head.

Tanya:  Self Awareness

This core value was defiantly the one I demonstrated the most on this trip trying to avoid any potential cultural misunderstandings and trying to follow the cultural norms here in France. There are a few cultural differences we have been made aware of since we have come here and have adopted into our daily encounters, for example, always standing on the right side of the escalator or trying to not speak too loud in public. Coming from America, these are not mainly cultural norms. However, we understand that when in another country it is essential to adjust to their norms and to be respectful of them. These aren’t rules that you can learn before your trip because there are much more than the ones I previously listed, and the best ways to learn is from observing our surroundings, being present, and asking a friend when in doubt.


Week 2, Allons-y!

It’s hard to believe we are embarking on our second week here in Rennes! We cannot believe how quickly the time is passing! We had a busy morning at the lycée and then popped over to Vitré, a small medieval town, for the afternoon!

We attended two English classes this morning — the girls had a chance to enjoy some conversations and cultural exchanges with French students! 

After our classes, we caught a regional train over to Vitré! We had a delicious lunch at a bistro and then toured around town. We had a chance to see the town’s castle and cathedral. Everything was pretty quiet since it was Monday — but it was a gorgeous place. We are so grateful to Marie, a Spanish teacher at the lycée, for being our guide for the afternoon!

The Best Weekend!

We can’t believe how quickly the weekend has passed, but check out what the other half of our group has been up to!  Lots of new adventures, cuisine, and fun!!

Laura Joelle: Today my host family and I visited Leonardo da Vinci’s place of death and a castle on the Loire river close to Tours. Both places were very pretty, but it was cold and windy during both tours, which partly took place outside. I first went to see Château du Clos Lucé in Amboise, which was Leonardo de Vinci’s house in which he died. The tour and house (more of a castle) were very interesting, my favorite part being all the models of da Vinci’s designs or inventions, including wings for flight, a contraption resembling a parachute, a paddleboat-like machine, and a basic version of a car. Next, we had lunch at a café/pastry shop, and I ate a quiche lorraine, one of the many staple foods of France. After lunch, we went to the Château Royal d’Amboise — the royal castle of Amboise in the near vicinity of da Vinci’s last house. My favorite parts of this castle were seeing da  Vinci’s resting place in a Gothic church and the scenic view from the balcony and roof of the castle. At last, we made our way back to Rennes, which was about a two and a half hour drive.

part of daVinci’s workshop  daVinci’s grave

the royal castle

view from the castle

Joi: Yesterday evening I sadly said goodbye to my first host family and hello to my second, so Sunday has been a calm yet exciting day for me. It started off with a small brunch with my host sister Lilou and her little brother Noam. Then, Noam and I watched Harry Potter and Sorcerer’s Stone. The audio was in French and the subtitles were in English. It had a been a while since I’ve last seen the film, so I only vaguely remembered the plot. This actually worked out great because when I came across a word in French I didn’t know it was easier to identify it with knowledge about the movie  I already had alongside the English subtitles. My host mother insists that whenever we all watch tv together, it must have French audio and English subtitles because this method helped her a lot when she studied abroad for a year. Initially, I was a little nervous about changing host families. I was going to miss cooking new dishes with my first host sister Juliette and playing board games with her little sister Alise. However, my new host family has welcomed me with open arms, and I feel right at home. I am learning so many new vocabulary words and expressions everywhere I go. Whether we are playing monopoly, watching Lilou’s basketball game, or just eating dinner we always find a way to compare our languages and cultures and share them with one another. I am looking forward to the week ahead!

Kami: Today was super interesting!! I’m really starting to fall in love with France. Today, after I woke up late, I got dressed and played cards with my host student’s little sister. We were interrupted by Darian’s host student who came to take me to St. Malo with her and her mom. We stopped in Dinan, a small city where we took tons of vids and pictures and then to St Malo, which was super windy but also super beautiful. It was nice to be with another Porter’s student and really get to experience France, something I’ve been really wanting to do. We saw a fortress from the Second World War, ate galettes and learned tons about the history of Bretagne. It is truly a wonderful experience to be here. We even taught Darian’s host mom about Post Malone, Ella Mai, and Billie Eilish… all while learning new French vocab!

Kami & Darian!

Tania: I had a very fun weekend with my host family. On Saturday we went on a little road trip along the coast of Bretagne. On Sunday my host sister had a basketball game, so I went and cheered on her. The game was at a place 2 hours away from Rennes, so it took up a big part of the day. At night, we went to my host family’s weekly family dinner. Here, I met all of my host student’s family members on her mother’s side. She has a lot of cute little cousins. We ate a lot of great food. I even tried new cheese from Bretagne and the “Galette du Roi”.

Tania and her host sister!

yummy snacks!