Ou la la, I am turning into a French person…

My French life is pretty awesome. Although I miss Canada very much, I am enjoying my time here. Since Christmas, I have traveled a lot, had good luck with my host families and have become closer to the people in my class. My French has improved a lot and things that I didn’t really understand, I get now. It has clicked. I say things like, “ou la la” all the time when I am speaking in English and I swear in French once in a while.

                The other exchange students in my district are awesome! We all get along really well which makes being away from our families easier. Our planned Rotary weekends are great and they keep us grounded in France. We share our successes and failures with each other and help one another solve problems. The District Chair of our Youth Exchange Program is really sympathetic and really wants the best for us, which helps as well. When I have had problems, Hughes really helped me and cared. I gained my self-confidence back with his help and the aid from the other Rotarians in my district. We’re lucky to have a good district, apparently one of the best in France.

                I moved host families a few weeks ago and that was really tough. My second host family, the Bernardeau Family, are the most welcoming, loving and caring people here and I was very sad to leave. I felt like their home was my home and they really made me feel that I had become part of a French family. So they are special to me. I had three host sisters with whom I had good relationships with. Since I’ve moved, they often text me and check in on me which is nice and I still help one with her Essays in English. I was so lucky to have such a nice host family and they are a big reason as to why I am able to speak French well and as to why I love France.

I celebrated my 19th birthday in January, French Style. It was a really nice day thanks to my host family and my friends. I had school in the morning, only two hours of gym, and then went to Lille and met all my friends. We spent the day together and then Sofie, Kathryn, Daniela and Franco came to my house for crêpes. My host family gave me a nice necklace which I will cherish to remember them forever. It was a birthday I will never forget.

Since the Australian year is different than ours, I had to say goodbye to my best friend in France. Kathryn, Tim and Maddi left on January 13th and it was really hard. My last few days with Kathryn were really nice and we spent a lot of time together but things are certainly different here without her. Daniela from Bolivia also went home because she received a scholarship from the University of Texas and has to do some courses in order to switch countries for University. Seeing my two close friends leave was hard and not knowing when we’re going to see each other next is even harder. We have 12 ‘newbies’ from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina and they are nice so the district meetings don’t feel empty. 

I had the amazing opportunity to go to Scotland for a week with school. I saw so many beautiful castles, foggy lochs, fluffy sheep and old towns. I never imagined that a voyage to Scotland would strengthen friendships and create new ones, making school so much better. I became really close with my classmates and this makes going to class better. They know me better and understand who I am a little better, which is great.  It was fantastic to see the country and experience a French Class Trip. I love Scotland.

The next weekend I went to Paris to visit my host sister and go to an English Presentation on Fair Trade Products. She wanted me to talk a little bit and that was a neat experience. That night, we went to see Mamma Mia and it was fantastic!  All the songs were in French which was really bizarre because I wanted to sing them in English. It is one of my favorite plays and it was great to see it in French!  I was thrilled. The next day, she had classes, so I went to a few places by myself and saw some things I had not had the chance to visit before. I went shopping and enjoyed the city. Every time I go to Paris I discover more and more reasons as to why I love it so much.

I returned to the UK to visit London for a week where I didn’t see the sun for seven days. My sister’s friend goes to the London School of Economics and is living there for this year. He offered to host me for a week so I was lucky enough to see London! I did all the touristy things like The Parliament Building and Big Ben Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guards, Oxford Street shopping and China Town. I also went to four different Markets which was interesting, drank a lot of tea, went to The National Gallery and The British Museum and went to Evensong at the Westminster Abbey.  London was really nice and it was good to see a friend from home and to speak English for a week!

I moved host families and I am now living with the Dupont family. They have a daughter in Taiwan and have already hosted Miso, this year so they understand Rotary and they know what Youth Exchange is all about. Their daughter was homesick in the beginning as I was, so they are very compassionate when I am having a bad day. I have a host sister in Taiwan, another sister who lives in another town and a host brother who lives at home. The family’s dynamic is great and after the vacation, Miso, from Taiwan will be living there too. She and I will live there together for a couple months until I move to my last family. I think it will be really cool to live with a friend and it is good because we help each other in French a lot.

I am currently enjoying a nice three week vacation from school. Actually, the school holidays are only two weeks, but I will be going to The Alps with Miso and our host parents. My host parents had to work during the vacation, so we will be going during school time. I love skiing and I am overly excited to go to the Alps. The vacation has been relaxing and busy all at once. I am staying with an English teacher from my school because my host parents are working and we live in the middle of nowhere, so I would have had nothing to do during the day. The family is really nice and they are similar to my family at home so I am happy. I have hung out with my exchange student friends in Lille a lot, went to my Best French friend’s Birthday party, rode my bike to Belgium, gone to some Zumba classes, went to the sea side and hung out with my family.

I have just over 100 days left in France which is so crazy!! It feels like I just got here!  I have lots to look forward to in the next four months like skiing in the Alps, going to Annecy where I will meet all the exchange students in France, the Euro Trip, my best friend coming to visit and other crazy, French adventures.

I hope all is well in Brantford and Han Lin, Tessa and Cecile are having as good of a time in Canada as I am in France. I heard both Joel and Sjord are going to Germany, that’s great!