Université Reenes II
Students studying at Université Rennes II will be operating directly through the university, without the aid of a liaison program. Student housing is offered in campus dormitories, but is not mandatory, and students may also choose to search out independent housing. Students of diverse levels of French linguistic proficiency are accommodated through this program, as their focus of study may be devoted either to the amelioration of language skills, through CIREFE (Centre International Rennais d'Etudes de Français pour Etrangers) or for more advanced speakers, to general university classes. Exchange students will undergo a weeklong orientation period before the commencement of classes, in order to prepare for a comfortable transition into the French pedagogical system. This program functions less like the guided cultural immersion of a private liaison program, and expects a greater level of personal independence from its students. Studying through this program requires, if not a mastery of the French language upon entry, the capacity to tackle studies and student life in a new and foreign culture without the non-academic community of a liaison program.
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As as science major, I felt rather at odds with the academics, but that was to be expected (and I did have the option to take math/science courses at Rennes 1). The academics were not as rigorous as Reed, which allows for a more pleasant experience abroad. The orientation homestay through CIEE was a good introduction and gave me enough time to get adjusted and figure out a more permanent place to live. I'm very pleased with my living situation: large room and bed, access to a full kitchen, laundry, wifi, cheap rent, etc. Very content! I've learned so much more about myself, what I need to be happy, and what I don't need. I'm coming back from France a much calmer person. Your time overseas will effect your future. It's helped me solidify my passions, those being nutrition, exercise, and living a healthy/eco-friendly life. In some cases, like with nutrition and exercise, it took away my ability to pursue those passions (I got tendonitis in my right knee and was banned from running/sports), but I learned why they are so important to me.
My French ability was not absolutely lacking. However, at our first informational meeting with Sylvie, it was assumed that we would take English Courses. As a result, I took English courses for credit and French courses for enlightenment. Way to wimp out me...the program was great because like life one could make it what one wished BUT the program could have been greater if we were pushed a little more into the direction of START FRENCH CLASSES IMMEDIATELY. The food was fabulous...I did not eat at the Cafeteria but inside frequented Les Marches as any good person should. The housing was awful considering the fact that we paid for it. Lack of Heat and Security are my largest complaints. I feel more confident about my ability to learn a foreign language. Being able to communicate in a language other than English is important to me because there rests a different world-view in different languages and why is this and how is it affected by Globalization and what a wonderful buzz-word.
The academic life at the university was much less rigorous than that of Reed, but this was expected. It probably would have been too difficult to learn the language in an environment like Reed. The housing was comparable to Foster/Schulz/Mac at Reed, but more run down. All of the conditions were a very good value, though. These aspects of the trip were very inexpensive. A student who dislikes or cannot function in a very independent situation should not apply. Do not expect anything to function smoothly in a process that involves a French institution or organization. Open a bank account before moving out of your host family. I learned that living abroad can be a very isolating experience. It is difficult to be foreign. But, the food is amazing, there are over 365 varieties of cheeses, and the cheap wine flows endlessly. I need a high pressure situation comparable to Reed to do well academically. I appreciate Reed infinitely more and cannot wait to return.