It has been almost 3 weeks since we arrived to Nantes and we are not ready to leave but it is time to depart for the second part of our trip. I must say that my experience in Nantes has been absolutely amazing and definitely more fulfilling then I imagined.
During my time in Nantes I was staying with the Pecherau family. Benedicte and Stephane are the parents of three very lovely kids: Jean, Rose and Marguerite. Even though I have been living abroad for a while now, this was my first experience with a host family. Therefore there were some feelings of excitement and nervousness. But from the first moment we met them, they made us feel at home. They were very welcoming and definitely contributed to a more smooth and extraordinary experience. Anna Rabut and I were staying in the same host family, who lived in Couëron. Couëron is located 10 miles(16 km) west of Nantes. Therefore every morning Ana, Hope and I would have to take the bus to Nantes and back. While it was quite the trip, around an hour to go and another hour to come back, it was totally worth it because Couëron is such a lovely town where everyone knows each other and is totally cordial to one another. Plus, it gave us a great insight of how public transport works and how properly organized this part of the country is.
I want to talk about our food experience in Nantes because I believe that once we return we will never be the same. Every dinnertime is a complete ritual. We have an apéro orapéritif to begin with. Most of the time it would be wine either rosé, white or red wine,other times beer with some cassis (blackberry) or orange syrup and at times some pastis,which is a beverage prepared with anis. After that we would have a small entrée, which consists of some delicious gourmet olives or some cherry tomatoes with Dijon mustard or some gourmet chips. The main course comes, which is as well a very delicious and very well set dish. And after the main course, we have les fromages, or the cheese. This is my favorite part of the meal because we have gone through a whole variety of cheese; frombrie, to blue cheese, to goat cheese and camembert. Anyways, the range is infinite and the flavor gets better as the days pass. Finally the dessert comes but by then it has been around two hours of laughing and sharing at the table, which reminds me a lot of how Latin-American families are, especially my family.
I know it may seem that we are only traveling around, enjoying the food and having themost amazing time but there is indeed a lot of learning and constant obstacles at all times. It’s like if we were in a classroom 24/7, which from time to time can be mentally exhausting. But that is what this entire process of immersion is. We are constantly being tested and challenged by the new words, new ways and the new language, which we are still trying to perfect. At the same time we have been studying French history, learning about the different turns and regimes this country has taken to be able to become what it currently is. By now, we have a well-constructed knowledge about the French monarchies,the French revolution, the French Empire, and the 5 different Republics that have gone through this country’s history.
As I said in the beginning, the second part of our trip is about to begin because we will betraveling to the south of France. There we will be living with different artisans and learning their ways. Hopefully, the next two weeks will be as exciting and enriching as my time in Nantes. I’m ready for the adventure!
— Ximena Purita Banegas Zallio