Greetings from Brest!
After a long travel day, we arrived in Brest Saturday evening and met up with our homestay families at the airport. We were all happy to see our hosts, take showers, and have real beds to sleep in! On Sunday–after a long night of sleep–we enjoyed a typical weekend day with our host families. Fortunately, it was a beautiful day, so many of us got to see the sprawling countryside and big, blue Atlantic Ocean. Some students even got to go to the beach and surf. Many of us also got to enjoy local delicacies with our families, ranging from galettes (savory crêpes) to fresh seafood to delicious cheese. Even the yogurt here is good, and we were surprised by how many options there are. We had to do our best to go to bed early despite the jet lag on Sunday because today we woke up early for our first day of school at Lycée Sainte-Anne!
The first thing that struck many of us about Saints Anne was the lack of wifi. While it may seem to be a petty observation, it indicates much more about the school. It’s culture is more classic and traditional. They write everything by hand. Teachers are addressed by their last names, prefaced by Monsieur or Madame. The teacher teaches while the student sits and learns. There is much less discussion or opposition than at Urban. Everybody enjoyed seeing education through a different lens, and many of us got to participate in English classes. The lunch at the school’s cafeteria impressed us all, and we were caught by surprise once again when we found out that we had gym class in the afternoon, having never taken one during school at Urban. We had fun playing basketball and soccer and trying out their climbing wall. To wrap up an already great day, we got to learn to make crêpes. At first, we had trouble getting them to cook nicely, but eventually we got the hang of it. They were delicious! We then went home with our host families for a nice dinner and a good night of sleep before another exciting day tomorrow.
Until next time,
Day 1 of going to school in France: I feel exhausted but very satisfied with my day. I began my day with a delicious bowl of French cereal at around 8:00 AM (which largely surpasses American cereal in terms of taste). My host and I live 20 minutes away from St. Anne so I got to have a brisk tour of Brest as we crossed the city to get to class. We crossed the two main streets, which I forgot the name of, and arrived at 8:55 with 5 minutes to spare. It felt a little weird walking into a school full of French students and I will admit I was a little nervous to begin class. After a short intro/program presentation, all the American students were lead by their hosts around the school for a quick tour. The school itself was large, broken up into two parts: lower-school+ middle-school and high school, and felt somewhat empty. Although I did not particularly enjoy the aesthetics of the school, I thought the decorations were funny, particularly a sign that hung above every fire alarm asking students to really think before sounding the alarm. My first class was history, in which we researched the history of the infamous Louvre and looked up the current exhibitions. The French students were very friendly and spent most of their time asking us questions about SF. The teacher was also particularly friendly and we discussed the French elections as well as weed legalization in CA. We had a short break during which we spent most of our time trying to find our correspondents, and after that we headed to our second class Science de la vie et de la terre (biology I think). After that we ate lunch all together in the cafeteria, which was packed. Rule of thumb for cafeteria dining: take as many cheese slices as you can and always protect your fries from french students with bad intentions. After lunch was P.E. where we, the Americans, tried our best to hold our own against the other students in basketball. One notable difference between P.E. in the U.S. and P.E. in France is that students seem to be way more independent and on task than when I used play basketball during P.E.. Finally, we were brought back to the cafeteria where we indulged in the fine art of crepe making. I am somewhat embarrassed to say that crepe making is not for me. We had fun experimenting with different techniques of making crepes and especially eating them! It was a great time!