Today was amazing and super crazy.
I haven't had a day like this for a long time. So. Much. Fun. And also today, I had the most scariest experience in my life. Okay here goes...
So this morning we woke up early and headed out to Lille to meet the other exchange students in the district. I was exhausted during the hour-long car ride. The meeting was in a gorgeous university. Lille is super pretty and a lot like Cambrai. I didn't get to see much of it, but I hear that it's huge. It was so exciting to meet all the other exchange students. I loved the Rotary meetings with the other outbounds back in the US, so this was just a hundred times better. I was surprised at how many Americans there were ( about 7 out of 15, I think) There were students from Argentina, Taiwan, Japan, Sweden, Indonesia, and India. All of them were soo nice and we got a chance to talk, exchange pins ( we all have pins from our districts that we exchange with other exchange students to put on our blazers ), and to talk with previous outbounds.
After our little get-together-sort-of-thing, we drove out to the middle of the forest where a huge ropes course was set up. Marie-Armelle had mentioned something about it, but I hadn't understood that it was today was I was wearing flip flops and a thin shirt. Mistake. I had to borrow someone else's shoes and coats. And literally, the ropes course was the scariest thing that I've ever done in my life. I know I exaggerate a lot, but this time I'm not. I thought I was going to die at least ten times. SO SCARY. There were six different levels and I did the third level with a bunch of other people. Median difficulty=The Most Enduring And Difficult Thing That I Have Ever Done. People said it was even harder than the level 5 one. I understand why. At first it was just simple cords that were about 50 feet off the ground, but then it went over into the forest... and, ugh, I'm shivering just remembering it. I thought it would be fun, but no. It was terrifying. You only had a harness with clips that you had to figure out how to use by yourself. If my host family hadn't been at the bottom shouting up directions at me, I would have fallen off. The most absolute hardest part was going over an extremely long horizontal ladder sort of thing that wiggled and moved every time you took a step. I shrieked and screamed because I almost fell off ten times. It's actually not that bad when you fall, but it's still petrifying just to let go and hang there. There was a French boy who went before me and called out whether the next step was easy or hard. It sort of helped, but most of the time it just freaked me out more. On one part where one had to sit on a swing and slide, I slammed into the tree and bounced back to the middle. Ugh. Yeah. It us an hour and a half to finish the course, but it felt like FOREVER. I have never felt so proud when I touched the ground again. At times, I couldn't breathe, let alone talk to the people who were safely down on the ground. Sorry for rambling, but it was quite an experience and it made me feel braver... after the fact that my knees shook like crazy afterwards. Moral of the day: People should stay on the ground. Birds should stay in the sky and trees. People should not walk on wobbly ropes among the trees and sky.
I feel like I bonded more with my host family over this, as crazy as it sounds. I mean, they were the only ones there to watch me and make sure I didn't fall. I was going insane up there, shrieking in English and French like a maniac– but I did feel better when they were watching. I felt super at ease with them in the car and my French came almost as easy as English :) Probably due to the fact that I talked a lot with other French teens and exchange students. It boosted my confidence and language skill. I met a lot of interesting people and everyone was so surprised at my French– that I could form words and accents and sounds. Apparently, it was impressive. A lot of the students can barely say a word in French so their host families have to speak in English. For now. We had a barbeque and then a bonfire at night. I talked with a Nigerian dude whose family is hosting the Argentinian student. He was 19 and super nice ( super tall too! I swear he was seven foot tall. No exaggeration. ) Again American culture was a great conversation subject: music, movies, t.v. shows, etc. We talked and roasted flavored marshmallows. Was the flavored part necessary? I think so.
I definitely feel more confident now and excited for the future things to do in France. I mean, I loved the last few days but today was the first time that I felt really comfortable and at ease with the language, my family, other teens, etc. All it took was a life-threatening climb and marshmallows by the fireside.
On Monday I will go to l'île de Ré with Marie-Armelle and some other teens. You don't know it? Look it up. Unfortunately there is no internet there so I will not be able to blog about it. So I will just leave you to imagine all the things that I will be doing there ;) Good night.