The most beautiful place on Earth: a student’s story from France


By Rachel Refkin

The France term abroad is definitely going at the top of the list of best life choices I have made.

Yes, I’m only a sophomore, and because of this, people told me I should wait.

But why would I want to wait another year to go to such a fascinating place where I can learn so much?

I am eager to bring everything I have seen back to Union’s campus.

Union’s program is situated in one of the most breathtaking places in France, and maybe even on Earth. It’s called Rennes and it is about 190 miles from Paris. Rennes is in Brittany, which is located in northwest France. For those of you without expertise of France’s geography, it’s that little point sticking out into the English Channel is right where we are.

We take three courses at the Université de Rennes One, which has about 22,000 students, so it’s a different experience than being at Union.

Despite intensive study in French, we’re able to go on an excursion about every two weeks to absorb all of the area we can.

One of our best trips yet, in my opinion, was to Normandy. This is where I discovered my new favorite place on the planet: Etretat, which is on the coast of upper Normandy.

Its magnificence has attracted the creative minds such as impressionist painter Claude Monet and prolific writer Guy de Maupassant.

When I first stepped out on the boardwalk, I saw a rock-filled beach with harsh waves dragging the current in violently.

The strong wind from the ocean whipped back my hair and flooded my mouth with the cold taste and smell of the sea.

Now if that wasn’t already great, I turned my head to the left and saw the most glorious cliffs I have ever seen. I was standing on one of the holy sites of the great artists.

Some other Union students and I were anxious to explore the

foreboding cliffs. It was like an Indiana Jones movie, walking over hundreds of moss-covered rocks and investigating remnants of docks from World War II.

The long walk was definitely worth the view. I can barely even describe how stunning the view was of this perfect rock arch on the sea with the sun setting in the background.

France is so beautiful in its landscapes as well as in its cultures. But even so, I long to see the snow-covered Nott that Union is so famous for awaiting me when I return to campus in January.


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