Friday, July 4, 2008

Leaving on a Jet Plane, Part 2

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go...
OK, so not true, but I am leaving tomorrow at 7:45 am to be at the bus stop at 8:15 so that I can have 15 minutes to say goodbye before the bus leaves at 8:30 to bring me to Paris, and the airport.

Everyone keeps asking me one of two questions : either "Are you excited to be leaving?" or "Are you excited to be going home?" The answer to one is "no," the answer to the other is "yes." I don't want to leave, but I'll be happy to arrive... does that make any sense? Not a problem if you don't get it; it's a tricky concept. Even I have trouble comprehending it sometimes. :)

But I think that anyone who has already been an exchange student gets what I mean. 10 months ago, I left my family, not knowing what to expect, not knowing how amazing, challenging, changing, + all adjectives this year would be. For these 10 months, I've lived with a family that I've grown to love and gone to school with people I now feel like I've known my whole life... and I don't want to leave them. They've become a part of my life, a part of who I am, and it's hard to let that go. Last night, as I said goodbye to my best friends from this year, I thought back on the day I said goodbye to my parents and my brother. In a way, last night was so much harder. I knew that I was going to see my parents again, but people here? I have no idea when I'll see them again.
On the other hand, it's true that I'll be SO happy to see my family and friends again. I'm going to go to friend's houses, spend time with my family... the first weekend I'm back, I'm excited to see my grandparents and to go back to church (where I'll see tons of people, including one of my sponsors, Gwen Donovan)... Then, life'll get hectic again, what with visiting colleges and going back up to work at camp.
AHHH mixed feelings. I guess I've gotten used to it this year, though. :)

So, I'm gonna sign off. Hope everyon's doing well.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

10 months down... 5 days to go???

Well, I'm leaving my host family on Saturday and leaving Paris for the US the Monday after.
WHERE has all the time gone???

I finished school - with compliments from the director of the school (the equivilent of a superintendant, like Lloyd Blanchard, in Westford), as well as from the entire teaching team. Pretty cool, huh? :)

Anyway, I wanted to just give a quick resumé of my experience of the Bac for 1ère Ls.

On June 16th, I had 1h30 to do the math portion. It was really easy - I'm pretty sure I got a GREAT grade. :) That's mostly because, for the Ls, they only go over things really important for every-day life in math. Pourcentages, etc...

June 20 brought 4h of written French, followed by 1h30 of Science. In French, there were 4 short textes that I had to read. Using the textes, I had to answer one question, and then I had a choice: Commentaire (a long essay analyzing one of the 4 texts), Dissertation (a long essay answering a given question using examples from the texts as well as other books I've read), or Sujet d'Invention (creative-writing... they give you a subject, you write whatever you want). They both went fairly well... I'm glad that I tried, in any case!

Today was the last part for me - the French oral. We're given a question to go along with a text that we had in class, and then we have 20 minutes to prepare a 10-minute analyse of it. Then, the teacher grading us has 10 minutes to ask us any question that they want to, within the subject. I don't feel like I did as well as I could have, but, as with the others, I'm happy that I went in and talked.

Sooo... That's pretty much it for today. I'll write once more before I leave!


Monday, June 2, 2008

Here the Time Has Flown

I feel like that should be a song title or something. :)

Anyway, Hi!!!

Ready for this? I'm done with school in a week and a half. I'm done with the Bac in 3 weeks. I'm leaving my host family in 4 1/2 weeks. I'm leaving France in 5 weeks.

People keep asking me how I'm going to feel going home. Honestly, I don't know. On one hand, I'm going to be so happy to be back, to see my family and friends, to get back to my life there... But on the other hand, I have a life here, too. I've lived with my host family for almost a year, I've made friends, I've shared so many things with everyone. Well, I guess I'll just have to take it in little steps.

The past few weeks, I've spent a lot of time in Annonay, hanging out with friends, walking around, etc. Annonay isn't really a huge town, but it's the biggest in Ardèche, the department that we're in. The population is a little less than 20,000. There is a big super-market, plus a few chain clothing stores (the newest, Jennyfer, was put in about a month ago), and many small privately-owned stores, like Diamond Jewelry in Westford. There's also a library, a few couple of post offices, a tourism office... I'm sure you get the idea. :)

One thing we just did at school was a small celebration of Europe Day. I didn't even know that there was a Europe Day. FYI: Europe Day, May 9th, was started in celebration of the Schuman Declaration, made on May 9th, 1950. There are now 27 countries in the European Union (this number may or may not change, with the enlargement of the EU being a hot topic in today's debates.) To celebrate at school, my English specialty class put together a couple of videos working off of surveys we had done in the school and on the streets of Annonay and showed them to the "European Section" English classes in Seconde. The classes of Seconde also put together a couple of little skits with the theme of Europe. It was quite the amusing afternoon.

Other than that... not much. Just starting to study for the Bac. We have 36 texts to study for the French portion!!!

Wish me luck!


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

LOTS of travelling!

Hi, everyone!

I've been quite busy since the last time I wrote (imagine that!) :)

Right before our latest vacation, I spent three days in Paris with my class and the class of Terminal L. We visited many well-known places, including Versailles, the Louvre (the hour and a half that we had to go through wasn't nearly enough to see everything, but I did see some cool stuff: Greek and Roman statues; paintings from the early Italian painters, including the Mona Lisa and the Raft of the Medusa; Egyptian hyroglyphics and mummies; Starbucks... hehe, but yes, there really is a Starbucks in the Louvre, and I did buy my first Starbucks drink in seven months!!), the Pompidu Center and it's museum, the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Elysée, Notre-Dame... It was sooo fun!!!!

During the first week of vacation, I spent five days with another AFSer in Grenoble, a town about two hours from Annonay on train. We had tons of fun shopping and going to a soccer game and just hanging out.

The day after I got back from Grenoble, I drove up to Strasbourg with my host family for a weekend trip. The trip was actually for the 40th anniversary party of some friends of my host parents, but we did get a chance to walk around Strasbourg a little. It's such a pretty town, and the pretzels are really good! :)

The rest of my vacation was spent relaxing. I hung out a lot with one of my AFS friends who lives in my town here, going into town and watching movies, and I spent one day in Lyon with her and her host mom and sister (we tried to go to a museum, but it was closed. Bummer.) I also read two and a half books and did ALL of my homework!

(I said last time that I was supposed to go to Nantes also, but it didn't work out finally. Not a huge issue, though, as I got to go to Grenoble instead.)

Otherwise, nothing else going on except getting ready to go to Norway in 8 days!

Hope everyone's doing well.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Exciting Stuff :)

Hi, everyone!

Guess what happened last Monday! I opened my shutters in the morning, and IT HAD SNOWED!!!! We've had a few "flurry storms," but this was the first snow that stuck.

I didn't get to play in the snow, but I did spend the day in Lyon with Anna, a German exchange student who was at my school in the US last year. It was so great to see her and catch up on everything that she's been up to. Since it was Easter Monday (a holiday here in France), almost no stores were open, but we had fun anyway. We walked around the almost empty mall at Part-Dieu with her sister, then met her parents for lunch. Afterwards, we went to le Parc de la Tête d'Or, a zoo of sorts (much more parc than zoo, but there were elephants, monkeys, giraffs, lions, tigers, and bears -oh, my!) :) It started getting cold and drizzling, so we went to their hotel and spent the rest of the afternoon there. I laughed so much that my cheeks hurt at the end of the day!

Monday also marked an important chapter in my book of becoming more independant/self-confident; I took the train by myself - and didn't get lost! :) Good practice for May, when I'm going to Norway!

Back-track a little: Easter. Over the night, the Easter bells had brought chocolate for the family (the Easter Bunny exists mostly in Alsace, where there are a lot of people with German heritage). We went to church in the morning then went back to the house and ate. And ate. And ate... It was really yummy! That afternoon, we relaxed, watched a movie, and played Rummikub. Nice. :)

Otherwise, I'm getting ready for lots of travelling. This Saturday, I'm going to Lyon again, this time with the other 3 AFSers at my school, then I'm going down to Montelimar for the night, visiting an AFSer who had been at my school at the beginning of the year, but changed families right before Christmas. The weekend after, I'm going to le château d'Anjou for another AFS weekend. The week after, I have 2 days of school, then go to Paris with my class! We get back to Annonay just in time for April vacation, during which I'm going to Strasbourg with my host family. A week and a half after vacation, I'm heading to Norway for 5 days. Whew! Lots of travelling!!

That's pretty much it for now.

Hope everyon's doing well.


Monday, March 3, 2008

end of vacation

I just finished vacation... it's back to school! We should be getting 2nd trimester report cards soon.

Over vacation, I didn't do much. My only trip was to my host mom's parents' house, near Marseilles. I'm always astonished when I see them - her dad looks (and acts) just like my Pepere!!! Her mom isn't exactly like my Memere, but she does make amazing food, just like her!

Otherwise, I worked on the books that I have to read for school in the U.S. and got down to getting permission for the trips I want to take later this year (including Norway... FUN!!!).

Hope everyone's doing well.


Friday, February 15, 2008

Hi, all!

Wow, these last six weeks have really flown by, and I'm just starting another 2-week long vacation. Yay! We don't have much planned - we're just hanging around the house and maybe going down to visit grandparents for a little while.

Since my last entry, I've been really busy with school, especially with the "Bac Blanc," which is a mock form of the Baccalauréat that I'll be taking in June. For the French written portion (which I actually took before Christmas), I got a 7/20 and on the oral portion I got a 10, which means that I would have passed the oral but not the written. I think my writing skills have improved since then, and they probably will even more before June, so I am a bit hopefull. :) For the math and science parts, I got passing grades, too (math:19, biology:11, physical science: 17.5).

We also had our mid-year AFS weekend. I can't believe that I've already finished more than half of my 10 months here! The weekend was fun, between seeing all of the other AFSers in my region and the talent show on Sunday afternoon, where I performed Cinderella (the short, funny version) with 8 other AFS students.

Some other international students also arrived at my school - another girl from the US arrived with AFS, and a boy from Australia came with Rotary. I knew that AFS was a strong program in my region, as almost everybody knows about it. It was great to have someone here through a different program, though, as everyone got to see that AFS isn't the only program out there. He also seemed to be really happy with his Rotary experience, so he was a great marketer. :)

I'm going to sign out for now so that I can get a good night's sleep to start off the vacation correctly. haha.

Hope everyone's doing well!