Bienvenue Tout le Monde! >> Welcome Everyone!

I am SO excited, and do you know why? Because I am living in France for the ENTIRE year! I arrived here in Tulle, France on the 26th of August, and I will return sometime in June of 2011. I have three families that I will be living with, each for three or four months. I am attending a lycee or a high school here for my junior year classes. I hope that you will check this blog for updates on my life in France.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

I Marched through April to see what the future May bring

Have you ever noticed how time passes? I’m sure at one point you have said: “it seems like it was just yesterday…” Yes, this is an all too popular cliché, but we say this phrase because it is true. It seems like just yesterday I arrived in France. But it was actually over 240 yesterdays ago. In February I was excited about my new resolutions, and my new experiences. Well, I have had some of these new experiences, and like this year, they have brought so much worth to my life; spiritual, social, scholarly, French, American, and all.

One of my favorite features of the Rotary is the time I spend with the other exchange students. I can truly say I spent time with them, as we took a one week trip of France and Spain…on a bus! European countries are very close together, but still it takes time between the top of France and Spain. So I spent every moment for a week with every culture, race, and creed in this world. We started in Paris, and of course saw the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and ate in the little Parisian cafes. Everyone rushed to get their fill of Starbucks Coffee, and all of the girls complained how there wasn’t enough time to shop. There are just some things that do not change country to country. Then we boarded the bus and drove, and drove, and drove, until we reached another gorgeous country in Europe…Espagne!
Just one side of the church in Barcelona

Needless to say all the students from South American countries were very excited, but all of us were. I know I was, just for the idea of seeing another country. I was very embarrassed that I do not speak Spanish. I hate the feeling of not being able to communicate. But I have a good friend from Columbia who was able to translate everything for me. She ordered my food, and helped me shop, so I was not completely lost. I saw the biggest church in the world, Sangrada Familia, that was begun in 1906, and will not be finished until 2026! I ate the best mussels in Europe, and saw the Olympic stadiums.

Even though I was technically a tourist, spending a year in France definitely changed the idea of tourism for me. I did not take 1000 pictures like I did when I visited France in 2008.  I did not even buy souvenirs everywhere I went. The last time I was in Europe I felt as though it was the only time I would be able to visit. But then I came back for a year. I did not feel like it is a matter of if I will see Spain again, but when.

Me and Jana from Germany
My head is still filled with all that I learned from the other students. There are some things that I just don’t think about in regards to other countries. Like how my German friend feels about her country after WWII, or how people from Asian countries choose an English name, or how we hear stories about violence in South American countries, that are actually very peaceful. We have so many images and perceptions on the rest of the world that are often not true. America is called the melting pot because we have so many of these cultures. That is why it truly surprises me how I am just now learning what life is truly like in the rest of the world. Now I am just thinking about how long it will take to see all of these countries, because it is something that I truly want and must do.

As usual I must talk about school. Who would I be or what would France be if I didn’t? I recently took the Bac Blanc. This is the PSAT, or the PLAN test. And after taking this test I instantly thanked God for the SAT and ACT. I cannot believe what the average French student must do to get into college. I took the literature, science, and math, and gym portions! Yes, gym as well. The SAT in France is not multiple choice. It is all short answer and essay questions. The first part of the literature section was four hours long. I had one text and the four hours to read it and write a mini-dissertation. Then in the second portion, you are required to give an oral presentation in front of a teacher. You are given a text and thirty minutes to analyze it. Then you speak about the text for ten minutes, and have a ten minute interrogation by the teacher. At the end I was happy that it was a) over and b) not my SAT/ACT. But I am much more confident for my standardized tests as a result. The great news is…that I passed! It was a long road, but that was okay because afterwards in April, I was on a TWO week vacation…which I am getting to, don’t worry!

Wherever I go, politics follows me. My host parents were talking about how a prominent politician in my region would be announcing his candidacy for president. They wanted to go, but had to work. My host sister had class, but I did not, so I said I would go and watch. So I walked to the government building, and there was the press from all over the country waiting and getting ready for the big announcement. Anyone important was there trying to get a great spot behind the podium where Francois Hollande would be announcing his candidacy. I stayed quietly in the back. I was only there to watch. Then a member of the congress and a friend of my host father recognized me. What happened next, I still cannot believe. He called me over, and placed me right behind the podium. I was right next to Mr. Hollande during his speech. Therefore every citizen, on every tv station, in very newspaper, and every website in France, saw me. I am an official celebrity! (no pictures please). The next day everyone was asking how I happened to be there, and was amazed how out of everyone, it was the American that got the best spot. I still cannot believe it, but like I said politics just follows me.

Me at the Sea!
I am sure I said I had another TWO week vacation, but in case I didn’t, from April 16th until May 2nd, I did not have school. Great, now that I have mentioned my vacation, I can explain what I did for vacation. With my host family we went to the west coast to the sea. It was great to have a little bit of time  for R&R. I read books and listened to music in French and English on the beach. We took a 12 mile bike ride along the sea. (And of course I was tired and sore afterward.) And big surprise...we went shopping. Even though I was happy for the time to relax, I was happier for the time with my host family. I love spending time with my host sister, and we have grown incredibly close in such a short time. I have been so great with my entire second host family, grandparents included, but it is time to go to my third host family. I don’t know what to expect, but that is life. We never know what will happen. We pray that everything will be alright, and as always God does what is right.

I don’t have much time left in France which has become clear to me. As much as I don’t want to admit it, nor my friends and host families, I will have to leave my home away from home. I said I wanted to live my life to the fullest, and that is what I am doing. I work in school, I have fun with my friends, and I observe my surroundings. Someone recently asked me what I want to do before I leave. All I could say is everything, as usual. I do not want to leave one stone unturned, and I will do the best I can not to do that.

 My next post will come much sooner. (Yes I know a lot of time passed between the two posts)  My life will change again when I change families, so I will keep you updated! Comment if there is something in particular you would like to know.

Time passes, that is inevitable, but it can pass as long as you are enjoying life. I am enjoying life, so time, go ahead, I am ready. 

1 comment:

  1. You paint such a vivid picture. I'm so glad you are having this incredible time with this incredible opportunity. God Bless... Mum