Audrey Leigh Thimm - 2014 Program Participant

Study abroad student on the bank of the Loire River at Chateau Chenonceau in France

On the bank of the Loire River at Chateau Chenonceau. 

Why did you decide to apply for an international program?

I wanted to become conversational in French through an immersion program that would allow me to learn about the language and culture first hand.

Why did you choose IES Abroad’s program in Nantes over other programs?

IES Nantes is very well situated, both in the city and in the region. I was interested in a city that wasn't so cosmopolitan that I wouldn't need to speak French, but large enough to have plenty to do on any given day. The program center was right in the heart of downtown with plenty of nice restaurants and shops in the neighborhood. Also, I wanted to explore northern France and Brittany in my free time, so Nantes was ideally located for my travel plans.

What was your favorite part about Nantes?

Nantes was very convenient to travel from, a short bus ride and you're on the beach. Two hours on the train and you'll arrive in Paris, a few hours more and you're in Champagne or Strasbourg. You're really not left wanting for travel destinations from Nantes. And for weekends when you want to stay closer to home, there's plenty of activities and events to chose from. Nantes is consistently ranked one of the most livable cities in France, and after my time abroad I would agree that the city makes for a very pleasant home.


Audrey in St.-Émilion

What makes the IES Nantes program unique?

Where else would I have had an opportunity to live with a restauranteur who had been on Master Chef? Needless to say, the meals with my host family were top notch, best Tiramisu I've ever had (and I don't normally like Tiramisu).

How did the local IES staff support you throughout your program?

The staff at the center were so helpful. If ever you wanted a recommendation for a place to eat or required some assistance fixing banking snafus, the ladies at the center were always more than happy to help.

What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?

I wish I packed lighter, I really didn't need as many outfits as I had anticipated.

Describe a day in the life of your study abroad program.

Wake up, have a breakfast of yogurt, fruit, and taritne, walk 30 minutes along the Erdre River to class, have a lecture, grab a sandwich for lunch at the nearby patisserie, go for a walk, go to another class, walk back home, write letters or emails, have dinner with my host family, Skype friends or family, take a (short) shower, go to bed.

What was your favorite activity outside the normal day-to-day schedule of your program?

I had the opportunity to sing with the choir at the Cathedral of Nantes. It was really interesting seeing how the chorales and voice lessons in Europe differed from those of the U.S. Not only was a great way to practice my French, but I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the choir members. One family was nice enough to invite me to their after-church brunch one Sunday, one of my favorite memories of France.

What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?

I lived in a homestay with a family of three. I liked the sense of autonomy my host family gave me; it was nice having the freedom to travel on the weekends and keep myself occupied however I pleased in the afternoons.

Dolmen on île-aux-Moins in France

The Dolmen on île-aux-Moins.

Now that you're home, how has your program abroad impacted your life?

I've become much more bold since I've returned from France. There's a sense of self assurance and confidence you gain after being immersed in a foreign environment then returning to what's familiar. What once would have intimidated me, such as striking up a conversation with strangers or asking for help understanding something that was unclear, I no longer give a second thought.