I got to start off my month two with an amazing weekend trip with some of the most accepting people I’ve ever met, at our first official overnight. This is what I wrote in my journal this day:
SATURDAY: So this morning I got up super early because I still hadn’t packed my bag for the weekend (typical Izzy procrastinating). Then because Maire-Claire thought my train was supposed to leave at 8:30, we were rushed out the door without any breakfast. When we got to the train station however, we learned that my train was due depart 10:30, so we had 2 hours to spare in Cannes. Maire-Claire and I walked around Cannes, and we went to a famous boulangerie and ate hot chocolate, freshly squeezed Orange juice and chocolate du pain (yum yum yum)
When it was time, I got on the train and went to the 2 second cart to meet up with the exchange students who were already on the train, Sofia, Yoshi, Ana, Sophia, Pillar.
It was so good to see them again, and it truly feels like I’ve known them forever, like they say “exchange students just get each other”. When we got to our stop, we got off and Mr. Pichaud drove us to the place where we were staying «Villa des Sables» (centre de vacances IGESA).
Not only was the meeting house beautiful, but it was also right across the beach.
After the other exchange students arrived and we got our rooms set up (my roomie was Sophia (Taiwanese)) we went on a walk on the beach. We chatted about how difficult our last weeks of school has been and told some embarrassing but funny moments we had when things were lost in translation.
After our lunch, we played basketball (well not really just throwing the ball and chatting) and then we started talking about music, which led us all to start sharing songs and dances from our perspective countries. It was so cool to learn more about where everyone came from, because even the other americans came from such different places than I.
The Rotarians also had us all sit around and introduce ourselves, say how our experience is going with school, and with our host families. When I was finished talking, one of the Rotarians who met me the first week at my rotary clubs meeting commented on how much my french has improved, which definitely made my day.
After we ate dinner we all hung out, learned more Latin dances, played some ‘get to know you’ games, ate lots of candy, then everyone went back to their rooms for bed. Can’t wait for tomorrow!
The next day was just as fun with a million more photos:
Good Morning family (:
Meeting the Governor of 1730, and some group photos
Some beach fun!
As the weekend ended I knew my next month was going to be just as good, and it was…
Explored 3 new french towns
As I just said, I spent the first weekend of my two months here and I found it beautiful- beaches mountains is really all I need.
This month, not only did all of the exchange students meet up in Frejus for a weekend, but the Wednesday right after that we spent the day in St. Tropez! Our YEO Mr. Pichaud got a boat for the day and it was so much fun. I sat on the railing in the front of the boat with the waves just touching my fingertips at times, and sea salted hair, I never felt better.
We must’ve passed a 1 million sail boats as well- and waved to just as many.
After the boat ride we got icecream and got free time to walk around wherever we wanted in St. Tropez. Shelbie, Kayli and I bought macaroons from a famous macaroon shop that was known as the first place to sell macaroons in Paris.
My host rotary club, Grasse, hosted an Orchestra concert in Grasse as a fundraiser. I had been to Grasse before for two dinners with my host rotary club but this day I finally got to explore it.
Shelbie Mays (an American exchange student from Missouri) came over for the weekend to hangout so she, Maire-Claire, Jean-Francois and I attended the Orchestra in a beautiful church, then got some icecream and walked around for a while. Grasse is a lot more like the France I imagined. A bunch of warm colored houses close together on busy, old-paved streets. Grasse is also the perfume capital of the world, and we passed a lot of perfumeries and I sometime soon I hope to go again and learn more of the history.
Met 2 times with other inbounds outside rotary organized events.
After having three rotary meet-ups, Shelbie and I planned for her to take a train from her town in Hyeres, and travel to my house in Mouans-Sartoux. On Saturday, Sofia met up with us in Cannnes and we shopped till we dropped. She planned to go home Sunday morning but last minute my host mom convinced her to change her ticket and stay till monday morning so we could all go to Grasse together.
Exchange Students in Nice
It was Sofia Lopez’s (the american/mexican exchange student) last time to hangout before she left to go home to America. All the exchange students that were free planned to meet up in Nice to spend her last day with her, and it was a lot of fun. We walked the ‘Promenade des Anglais’, had a picnic on the beach, and ate some delicious ice cream. Everyday I spend with these exchange students the more and more I love them.
Taken 62 buses to and from school
Yes, counting everyday I’ve been two and fourth from school, which is everyday except 3 sick days, and one rotary field trip to skip Wednesday’s classes and go to St. Tropez is 62. School day by day is getting easier but I’d still say it’s the hardest part of my exchange. While I did meet some awesome friends that I can eat with everyday, The actual course part is nowhere near as fun. Compared to America, I would say school here is a lot more serious. Also, just the fact that some of my classes are 2 hours long and trying to keep my concentration up for that long is extremely hard. I mean, I can barely concentrate for an hour long course in english, let alone a two hour course in French.
Me eating lunch with two friends from school in a nearby garden.
Some of this months monumental school moments include that I did successfully answer one question when the teacher called on me in Accompagnant Perso. SES (Science Econo. & Sociales). I also said the introductory phrase for my groups SES presentation in front of the class so that I am proud of. On two Friday’s in a row I went on field trips, one to a theatre and one to a book festival , and the following week Stanislas’s celebrated it’s 150th year anniversary.
Not only was I in that picture, but of course we took and got our class photos- a great memoir from my time at Stan.
Bought my first beret. ( and went shopping 4 times)
Clothes/malls in France are almost the same as the US. There’s some of the same stores like Forever 21 and H&M but also some new stores. The style is also surprisingly similar to the Americans style, although I think they’re more bold with what they wear here. – And yes, if your wondering my first beret does have cat ears and say meow.
Found 5 new favorite foods.
One new favorite appetizer- toast with tuna and sliced french cheese and one new favorite fruit that grows in my backyard! A favorite new dish, my host mothers vietnamese soup with two new favorite desserts Macaroons, of course, and a classic french from a restaurant in Grasse.
Visited one new country (6 new towns)
When you start with a bang you gotta end with a bang and that’s exactly what this weekend was. Because both Maire-Claire and Jean-Francois had the same Saturday off they decided that we should go touring somewhere, and when you live this close to the Italian boarder, where else would you go!! We left Saturday morning and visited Portofino, a beautiful Italian town on the coast. Apparently in the summer Portofino is somewhat like St. Tropez with all of the boats, but there was no big harbor, all of the boats were wrapped up and on the streets- one of the major differences between France and Italy. French beaches are a lot more publicized with shops all along the coast whereas Italy’s coast is still welcome to tourists but a lot more rocky than beachy.
That night we went to a restaurant for pasta and slept in a hotel in the same town.
When we woke up headed for the beach to take a boat to Cinque Terre. Cinque Terre is 5 Italian on the coast which the only way you can reach them is by boat or a train.
Each ‘Terre’ was a colorful, busy town, looking out at the Mediterranean Sea while staying either higher in the mountains or deep within the Valleys. There’s also a walking trail that connects all of them and the route, although long, looks so beautiful. So now I have a new item for the bucket list – hike the Cinque Terre.
Not only were the sights just as beautiful on the second day but so was the food.
Month 2 could not have been better if I dreamed it. I started the month missing some classic american snacks or having days when I would think my french would never make progress but that has all changed. I’ve found new favorite foods and snacks that I could only get in France, and in the last days of my second month I feel like my comprehension of the french language has improved so much. I can’t yet have a perfect conversation without grammar mistakes but I can certainly try. At the end of my first month, whenever people would say more complex sentences I could understand the general sense of what they were saying. But now I’m starting to process each word and understand each word in french- it’s less of translating but more of understanding the first time. Of course not everyday’s a good day for my french but I definitely see progress and am very happy with it.
As for emotionally I do miss my home, friends, and family (Kat), very much. It’s nice with modern technology that I get to see and talk to them easily but it’s not the same as being with them. After a long day of school, I’ll be tired and completely worn out from my brain working constantly on trying to decipher the fast french speakers and all I’ll want is my own bed and to see family. Luckily I have an amazing host family who makes me feel as home as possible while showing me french culture, and I’ve met some incredible exchange students that I feel like I’ve known forever. So despite my difficulties with that I am still going on; besides,
“Adventure starts just outside your comfort zone” (;