For some reason, I was the only exchange student who had their host family come to pick them up directly from the airport. My host mother, Marie-Armelle Raux, was there with my 17-year-old host brother Morgan. They are such nice people. I managed and am continuing to manage talking with them in French. It's easier than I thought. Marie-Armelle speaks a little slower and clearer than Morgan. All the teens I've heard in France speak very fast. Unfortunately he will be leaving soon to go to college so I will be an only child. The Raux family has a daughter going to college in Belgium and a son my age who is also doing a year-long exchange in Taiwan.
The culture shock hasn't really hit me yet because I am SO tired, but I've definitely noticed things that are completely different from the US. Some good and some not so good. For one, they do kiss on both cheeks when greeting people. I was expecting it, but it was still a little surprising. We had an hour long car ride back to Cambrai and I found that I can talk in French on the spot :) However, whenever Morgan said something I froze up and asked him to repeat it a bunch of times. Also in the car ride, I got to witness some infamous French driving like crazy lane changes every two seconds for no reason. There were tons of trucks on the road taking deliveries from Belgium and England. It's nice not to see tons of SUV's everywhere. People here drive smaller cars, since gas is extremely expensive. We drove past beautiful fields and country sides. I saw white cows! They were so strange looking, I thought they were sheep.
Before we arrived at the house, we drove around Cambrai. I'm actually living in Proville, but it's really really, really close to Cambrai. I've looked at Cambrai on Google Maps and was amazed to actually be living in the pictures! The town square is amazing. There are tons of French boutiques, pretty buildings made of bricks, cafés, and bakeries. I will take pictures tomorrow when we hit the town again. There's an enormous cathedral right next to the high school that I will be going to. My school is called Saint Luc and it's a really pretty building. It's kind of old and smaller than my high school back home. I'm nervous to start school and communicate with fast speaking French teens.
I was pretty wiped out by the time we got to the house. It's really nice and pretty big. In my room, I have a huge closet, a French radio (they listen to a lot of American music), a desk, and tons of French books to read. I also found a welcome gift when I walked in. Pictures are at the bottom.
The first thing we did was eat little chocolate cakes that Marie-Armelle had made and pain au chocolats from the bakery. They were delicious, but my stomach was and still is really upset from the meals that I had on the plane :P Afterwards I unpacked and made my room more home-like. I will be living here for four months, after all. Then we ate lunch, consisting of chicken, ravioli, salad, and bread. I crashed and took a nap for an hour after that. I had a really hard time getting back up. Marie-Armelle had a friend come over later just to chat. I don't think people really do that in America. They don't just call someone up and have them stop by for thirty minutes just to talk and eat cake. The friend was a math teacher at my new school and had two adorable kids. They were so shy around me and kept looking at me like I was some exotic animal, but once they were in the car they made funny faces to make me laugh. It lasted for 20 minutes. It was great. Then I saw a dead mouse in the driveway. Not so great. I couldn't understand Marie-Armelle and her friend when they talked. Partly because they spoke fast and party because I was incredibly tired. I still am.
Do I miss home yet? I probably will... later. I'm too tired to understand much. It's so hard to believe that I'm actually in France. Thousands of miles away. I have a view of pretty French houses right now. The whole flight didn't seem like I was leaving for a whole year. I haven't gotten a big reality check just yet. But overall, a really good first day in France so far. Extremely busy plans for tomorrow, I think. Go to go! See photos below. Au revoir! :)
|All the French books that I can read|
|I found this in my room|
|Cambrai's specialty candy|