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    • Hanna celebrates Thanksgiving with with her host parents.

Writings from Rennes: La Nouvelle Normalité

Hanna Jennings ’24
As I currently sit on my bed staring at a blank Google Doc, I am fully at a loss for how to start this article.
Objectively speaking, I should have a lot to write about and to share with the Hopkins community. Over these past few months, however, the glamor of living in France has worn off, replaced by an odd feeling of normalcy and realization: My life in France is quite literally still my life, just in France. Just as I have begun to feel comfortable in this foreign environment, however, I must also come to terms with my time here quickly coming to an end. By the time this article comes out, I will be packing my bags to return home to the United States, and I’m not sure how ready I am to accept that change.

When I first decided to come to France, I was eager to share every moment of the journey with my friends and family back at home. I came prepared with a daily journal to write in, a photo dump account on Instagram, and plenty of ideas for my future Razor articles. 

Funnily enough, while I have had some of the best experiences of my life since my arrival, I have felt very little need to document any of it. Over the past few months, I’ve realized that I no longer care about how my friends at home perceive my time in France. I know that I am having a great time, and I don’t need a constant flood of Instagram posts to confirm that feeling. 

Nevertheless, with my semester in France quickly coming to an end, I look back at my blank journal and Instagram account with mixed feelings. Part of me is worried that I’ll regret not having written down my feelings at every twist and turn of this journey. Just as everyone told me, this semester has been the experience of a lifetime. It’s not everyday that you can hike to a chateau to watch the sunrise on a random weekday in October, or have picturesque after-school picnics with authentic, fresh baguettes in the park. With these incredible adventures, however, have also come incredibly difficult periods of homesickness, among other lows:  The week of what should’ve been my Thanksgiving break, for example, was one of the hardest of my life.

The Thanksgiving week started off strong with a soccer victory for France and over-elaborate Friendsgiving dinner. I felt on the top of the world. In true study-abroad fashion, though, that feeling quickly came to a crashing halt. As I spent the entirety of Sunday doing homework and studying for the week ahead, my family group chat was flooded with texts about airport arrivals and Thanksgiving desserts. It was then, sitting in my room, that I began to break down from a rare feeling of homesickness, from knowing that my whole family was going to be spending my favorite holiday together. Without me.

I knew before arriving in France that Thanksgiving doesn’t exist here. This fact, however, is very different from seeing absolutely no acknowledgement of a holiday season that I’ve grown to appreciate in my life. My friends and I got through this week of homesickness together, and we have continued to take advantage of all Rennes has to offer since then. Though I would never wish to live through Thanksgiving 2022 again, I know that these drastic emotions and experiences are unique to studying abroad in a new culture. As a result, I feel the need to soak in every new experience and savor every moment, even as time seems to fly by.

Through struggling with this idea of living in the moment, I finally understand how I should apply this concept to my life. On one hand, I would like to be able to go into every situation prepared to make the most of every moment. Even so, I have found that focusing on the importance of every experience takes away some of its magic. When I’m diving into the Mediterranean Sea, I don’t want to be thinking about how much I’ll remember that moment in twenty years. Instead, I would prefer to laugh and swim with my friends without constantly worrying about the future. For my last few weeks living in France, I’ve decided to simply live my life fully in the present and to reflect on the significance of its events later. 

While the mystique of living in France has dissipated, so has much of the pressure that I have felt to have an unforgettable semester abroad. As this “new normal” of daily pain au chocolats and dinners with my host family has simply become my normal, I have been able to fully immerse myself in my French life. 

I hope that when I return to Hopkins, which carries stresses of its own, I will be able to look back on these past three months and know that I truly made the most of each experience through simply living it.
Editor in Chief 
Melody Cui

Managing Editor 
Riley Foushee

Evie Doolittle
Aanya Panyadahundi
Sam Cherry
Sophie Denny
Anya Mahajan
Vivian Wang
Hanna Jennings
Megan Davis
Mira Krichavsky
Asher Joseph
Amalia Tuchmann
Rose Robertson
Shriya Sakalkale
Sarvin Bhagwagar
Daniela Rodriguez-Larrain
Sophia Neilson
Zoe Sommer
Eli Ratner
Teddy Witt

Tanner Lee
Amir McFerren
Connor Tomasulo
Maggie Russell
Arielle Rieder
Anika Madan
Alex Lopez

Dhalia Brelsford
Hailey Willey

Web Editors
Grace Laliberte
Brayden Gray

Business Manager
Luca Vujovic

Faculty Advisers
Stephen May
Elizabeth Gleason
David Harpin
The Razor's Edge reflects the opinion of 4/5 of the editorial board and will not be signed. The Razor welcomes letters to the editor but reserves the right to decide which letters to publish, and to edit letters for space reasons. Unsigned letters will not be published, but names may be withheld on request. Letters are subject to the same libel laws as articles. The views expressed in letters are not necessarily those of the editorial board.
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