Everyday, the language is getting easier, but every once in a while it feels like 3 steps forward and one step backwards. Sometimes I feel like I can give a perfect translation, like at the start of the month when I was asked to translate, even though I understood what was said in French, I had trouble explaining in English! I was completely lost for words! I also have days where I will think someone said one thing when they meant something completely different. Another note is that at the start of the month, I had a few dreams that were partially in French which was very exciting! This month came and went faster than I can eat a whole baguette, and the things I did made it just as good as a warm baguette straight out of my local Boulangerie.
In the past thirty days I…
Celebrated three birthdays
TURNING SEVENTEEN (Oct 25th)
Right after my weekend in Italy (Refer to last months post) Kayli and Shelbie (two Americans in my district) came over the day before my birthday. We toured Mouans Sartoux (my town), ate lunch in a cute boulangerie, watched some movies, and had chocolate fondue after dinner (YUM)
The morning of my birthday I woke up, and went upstairs just to find out that Kayli and Shelbie had already cooked and prepared one of my favorite breakfast foods- Pancakes!!
After we ate, we waited for Sofia to arrive so all four of us could go down to Cannes. We spent the day shopping and of course, ate no other than Steak n’ Shake for lunch! Shelbie and Kayli left around 4, and Sofia and I went back to Mouans-Sartoux because she was going to spend the night. When we came back we said hello to Maire-Claire and Jean Francois, but we were then quickly told to go to my room on the bottom floor and wait until we were called up. After about an hour later we came upstairs to a beautifully prepared classic, regional dish! Maire-Claire told me that her boss let her leave work after lunch to start preparing it, which was so nice or her. After dinner, we had a three layered chocolate cake, which was very good, and then they brought out some gifts for me which was very unexpected. They gave me a bunch of art supplies because I said how in America I loved to paint, and some dangly, silver, earrings as a memoir of my exchange in France.
Sofia turns 17 (Nov 15th)
Sofia also turned 17 this year, so even though she has been in France for about 8 months more than me, which makes her my ‘oldie’, I am older than her. Because her exchange year is on a different rotation than mine, she is January 2016 – January 2017, and I am August 2016 – July 2017, she is on her last few months here and can have family visit. So just before her birthday, her parents flew in from Australia, and on her birthday all three of her host families (which includes my host family right now) and her real family had a dinner together. It was a Raclette, and quite possibly my favorite meal I’ve had in France so far. Not only was the food from this dinner out of this world, but the dinner itself was so crazy and fun too. In one ear I would hear french, and the other was english, and I had no idea which to listen too.
Jean Francois’s Birthday (Nov 19th)
The day of Jean Francois’s birthday I had an overnight so I really didn’t celebrate with them that much. However I did make him a present with the art supplies I got for my birthday and painted him a picture from his parents house:
Had 6 amazing, new, desserts
One of the best of all of these would be the cake we ate for Sofia’s birthday. It’s called “Tropizenne” and is the specialty cake of St. Tropez with a delicious cream filling. Of course, the colorful macaroons and eclairs tied for second with the amazing Ice Cream I got at PamPam’s. PamPam is a famous Brasilian restaurant, that has some restaurants around the world too. I could have eaten the whole ice cream for dinner because it was so big, so good, and so chocolatey – just my type of icecream!!! And I can’t forget to mention the homemade flan and spice bread with an orange tang we bought in Grasse. I am going to gain so much weight eating all the delicious desserts but it’s worth it!
Met 2 old friends
Yes- you guessed it! How could I not meet up with two of my closest friends when we’re all staying in France?? It was so crazy to see Nathan and Trent again, and hear about how their exchange is going, and even talk to them in French!! (Well not completely, we’re not all fluent yet, but I loved hearing their french accents and learning new words that is only used in their regions)
We all met up at Trent’s house in Sete which is a small island off the south of France. The first day we toured the closest big city, Montpellier. It was funny because when I’m with my girl friends touring we go to all the pretty churches and all the landmarks, but with them we just went to every CD shop possible, and found some good places to eat (which is why I don’t have any photos of the city). The next day we all went to the beach at Sete and found some little critters! The beach was full of “méduse” (Jelly fish) and “Bernard l’Hermite” (Hermit crabs) I did’t even feel like I was in France anymore- just some tropical island with two of my pals!
The day after Nathan left, Trent was coming back to my house. His host parents took us and we got to stop in Marseille and tour which was so pretty. That night we went to dinner and stayed in a hotel in Antibes so we could tour Cannes with his host family before we were both dropped off at my house.
Went to two different Islands
I actually went to this Island twice. The first time I went with Trents host family, and after that visit I decided that I should go again and have a picnic with some of my exchange friends!
After Lunch we walked around the island and went to the Museum. This Island has a lot of history, as it is where the “man in the iron mask” was kept for some time. Part of the museum was the old prison where the mysterious man was kept, and it was very interesting learning about some of the areas history.
Ile De Porquerolles
This month’s overnight we went more West to Hyères! On Sunday we took a boat to the Island of Porquerolles just half a mile off the city Hyères and did a bike tour around the whole island!
First we biked to the nice beach of the island, which is usually full of people in the Summer!
After our stop at the beach we biked to lunch where we ate a lot of sea food- Crab soup, Calamari, and other fishy treats. When we were done eating, we biked to the other side of the island which had dangerous cliffs instead of white sand.
This island trip was full of so much adventure, and love from the people who understand me the most. Exchange students have a connection like no other.
23 FaceTimes to Home
Sometimes I think about how lucky I am to be going on exchange in this time. I mean, yes, this year may have been hard with all of the political things (the fact that both the US and France election fall onto my exchange year) but technology wised, I am blessed. FaceTime isn’t the same as hanging out with someone, but it’s the closest I can get which was perfect for this month being my birthday, and getting close to the holiday season with homesickness getting worse. Sometimes it was hard to FaceTime friends and family, especially when it came time to hanging up and I would say ‘see you soon’ even though I wouldn’t see them for 7 more months which is insane.
Hiked in 4 Different locations
I went to Marseille on the way home from visiting Trent, and his host family took us on a beautiful hike in the mountains by Marseille.
And after hiking uphill for a while, we starting going down and got a beautiful glimpse of the Mediterranean in Marseille.
While Trent was staying with my host family, we took him up to Grasse and saw a beautiful view of the mountains of Grasse. We went to a little village called Saint-Paul de Vence which had an amazing view looking out.
Shelbie came over one weekend this month and we had a lot of fun trying new things. We stayed in and watched a bunch of movies which was so good to relax, and then goofed off with my family at dinner.
Sunday we were invited to go on a hike with Pilar, Sophia and her host mom.
Our route was a circle, go through the woods and parks tinland, have lunch then return around the coast. On the way to lunch we found a live animal- which I’m not exactly sure what it was but something like a goat. We also went through a park of olive trees, which were all over 2,000 years old!
We then stopped for lunch- baguette sandwhiches which we picked up at the boulangerie before we left. We sat on a wall just over the sea, with a beautiful view of the coast city, Menton!
The way back we found a perfect rocky part to climb and overlook the Mediterranean Sea.
My last weekend of the month was an overnight in Hyères.
We started off with Lunch and a walk through the park, then lunch at a restaurant in Club at the House du Tennis Club de Hyères. The place was so pretty and with all the leaves on the ground it really started to look like fall.
After that, we went to ‘vieux Hyères médiéval’ with a tour guide and learned lot’s of interesting facts and history of the town.
The tour guide led us to the top of a lookout with a breathtaking view of the town with the sea in the background. As the sunset we went all went to dinner at one of the rotarians house.
This month has been pretty spectacular. I have gotten over so many language & homesick bumps and I am so proud of how much I have achieved so far. Before I left, somebody told me if you can make it through the first three months, then you can make it through the whole year. The first three in my opinion make or break your exchange. If you had a bad first host family, or ate some bad food then that will be your outlook for the rest of the exchange. You will always have that negative outlook on those things. For me my negative outlook would be school because my first few weeks weren’t what I thought it’d be like, luckily though, I have learned to stay positive and things get better. I know next month I may still have a hard time, but I also know I’ve overcome the first three months, and I am ready for anything.