Aero: Jason Palmer – France 2015 – Family Life
Aero: Jason Palmer – France 2015 – Family Life
I may have had a different experience that the rest of the class. Due to the age difference of myself and the rest of the students in our class, I was placed with a professor who lived in Rennes, and commuted by train to Vitre everyday for school. I had the pleasure of meeting Pierre Marie Rosmade the night the train entered Vitre, and we all met our host families. I had spoken only once to him through an email and was not sure what to expect other than that fact that he was the same age as myself, and unmarried. We grabbed my luggage and went to his car. It was a borrowed car, but a car nonetheless. We drove to Rennes. I informed him that I would do my best to speak French while staying with him. He informed me that he only spoke limited English, so I though this was going to be an interesting week for both of us. Out of respect for being in a foreign country, I would try to communicate in a language that was foreign to me. Travelling abroad alone, should take you out of your comfort zone. We quickly got along, as he spoke more English that I thought he would have and ended up speaking English most of the week.
As a professor, he was very busy most of the week. He was extremely gracious and gave me the only bed in the flat. He volunteered to sleep on the pull out bed in the living room. I told him that he did not have to make any special accommodations for me. On most days that week, he had papers to grade for a few hours a day. I understand that there is always work to do, as I am married to a teacher. I took this opportunity to give him some peace and quiet and headed out in the city to explore. He graciously gave me a spare set of keys so that I could get back in the building when I would leave.
Every morning when I would wake, I was greeted with coffee, croissants, pain au chocolat and other boulangerie items. There was a full spread at breakfast time. I usually do not eat a large breakfast, and was rather uncommon to have such a selection every morning. I understand the reason for this, as lunch didn’t start until noon. I asked every morning if I could help clean up, and always the answer was no. It was not for a lack of trying. It simply felt strange not being allowed to cook or clean for a week. I was his guest, period. That is what I was there to do, be his guest.
The one thing that I did notice was the time that he would cook dinner for us. I am used to eating dinner anywhere between 5pm and 7pm. Not in France, dinner would start to get prepared, at least where I was staying anywhere between 9pm and 10pm. I remember many nights where I was ready to turn in from a long day hiking and visiting the numerous and wonderful sites, that the pans would start making their way out of the cupboards. I would ask Pierre, what are you doing? He would simply say that it was time for dinner. This was the hardest thing for me to get used to. We have always been taught to not eat before bed. I will have to say though, even though there were many options for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the portion of food consumed was small in comparison to what Americans ingest. I am assuming that is why many can wear skinny jeans.
It was a wonderful week of laughing, eating and exploring the city of Rennes. He was right across the street from a supermarket, two blocks from a boulangerie/patisserie. Every Sunday, the second largest public market in all of France was a short walk away. We would get the produce we would need every couple of days. There were not any pre-packaged, convenience items in his kitchen. Everything was fresh and local. He would ask what I would like, then either we would go to the market, or the grocery store and get what we would need for a couple of days. It was a great week. I let him do his thing, and he let me do mine. I thanked him numerous times for allowing me to stay with him for a week.
I had the pleasure of going with him to his nephew’s birthday party one day. We arrived and I was introduced to a house full of people, whom I obviously had never met before. His nephew reminded me of my son as he was turning the same age and had similar interests as my son does. They were all so warm and welcoming. Several of them spoke some English and used that to communicate with. It was difficult to understand any of the French as multiple conversations were going on all at once, all around. Over the course of many hours, I really was treated as one of the family. There was no hesitation in welcoming me into their home. Everyone was so nice. How genuinely nice and accommodating his family was, even for the few hours. This really touched me, and they told me that if I were to ever travel to France again, I had a place to stay. They meant it! I took an entire family photo, with myself included as requested.
It was simply the genuine acceptance by all members of Pierre’s family as well as himself to open his house to me. This was a wonderful experience. I enjoyed every minute of every day while staying in Rennes.