September 18, 2011

Adventures in Lille

This weekend was amazing! I had so much fun in the marvelous city of Lille with my third host family– the fabulous Guisnets. But going to Lille wasn't all that we did... Saturday morning, Marie-Michelle and I went horseback riding at a beautiful barn a little far from Cambrai :D It was a lot of fun, but different than I expected (as are a lot of things, I'm finding here in France) For one, I rode with six other girls in the same arena, plus their friends were on the side the whole time laughing and tittering English words when I rode past. It was kind of awkward and I thought that they were mocking me, but later I found out that they usually hang out to watch and they do the same thing every time. And also the teacher was strict, like all the teachers in France. My horse was enormously tall and lazy. I hadn't ridden for a whole year so I wasn't too keen on racing around just yet, but the teacher kept telling me to go faster and faster. I'm extremely sore now– plus my arm is killing me from badminton. That just proves how nonathletic I am. :P Anyways, the best part of the two-hour lesson was when I got to canter on a smaller horse. Whoo! It was super fun and fast with the wind in my face. The second best part was when we all went outside and walked alongside a beautiful canal. Those two best-parts made it a very fun morning and I'm excited to go back on Saturday and maybe ride a slightly smaller horse. Two feet shorter would be great.

We had to eat lunch in the car (cheese and cucumber sandwiches) because we were running late. Everyone rocked out to the dance music playing on the radio for the hour long drive to Lille. It's a bummer that I'm so far away from Lille. We were late to a little tour of Charles de Gaulle's house. I must admit, it was a bit boring. It was less interesting for me because I couldn't really understand our tour guide. The most interesting part was when I slipped and almost broke my back on a rug in one of the bedrooms. It was really loud and everyone in the room next room heard me. My clumsiness has prevailed, thousands of miles away from home.

After the tour, we stopped by Euphemie's apartment (the other host sister who visits during the weekends). The stairs in apartment buildings in France are ridiculously narrow, steep, and never-ending. Her apartment was super tiny. There were only three rooms: a bathroom, a bedroom/living room, and a little kitchen. We chilled for a bit there, then hit the stores! Ahhhh I love Lille SO much. The center square was so lively and there were so many people filling the streets– along with some rather interesting individuals :) Like the random stranger who decided to pose with me in my picture... Or the group of people in leopard print winter coats with funny hats... Or maybe the college students who came dressed in identical robes to yell at the top of their lungs in the middle of the square.

We went to lots of stores to look for a new school bag for me. It was so much fun. I've missed shopping. Finally I found a new bag in the last store that we went to. It's an over-the-shoulder bag that's way more in style. No more hitchhiker backpack for the American girl! After we left the store, it began to rain... that's the North for you. But it was just as well because then we went to an amazing café that exclusively sold gourmet hot chocolate, coffee, and fancy merangs. We had delicious hot chocolates. Fancy. So then with fully bellies, we left to go to the amusement park! Yes, there's a seasonal amusement park at Lille :) I thought I was going to throw up afterwards, but luckily I didn't and my stomach held through for two rides. It was awesome and I screamed like a baby the whole time. I'm a screamer and a devoted roller-coaster rider.

After dinner that night we had a platter of cheese. So much cheese. They got out a map of France and showed me where all their different types of cheese came from. Everywhere! France is definitely the country for cheese– the best cheese in the world, that is. I loved having dinner with them. I prefer the food at the Raux, but I prefer the atmosphere at the Guisnets where everyone is talking and laughing all the time. I also got to see my future bedroom (Euphemie's room). I really like it because it's more homey and colorful. My bedroom at the Raux is rather plain and empty. It doesn't really feel like someone lived in it before, but that's probably because Edern is a boy who doesn't like home decorating. I don't know many boys who do like home decorating. Anyways, I have to say that the Guisnets are the most Americanized French family that I've seen so far. They drive a huge SUV. They watch T.V. during breakfast. The cat is very fat. The mom is not slim. They are a simple family and they are soo nice. The environment was a lot more lively and energetic with three teenagers running around. I'm excited to stay with them. I love my first family also, but it's very different. It's quieter and calmer with the Raux. It's all about the experience and the culture that's unique for every family. I have quite a variety of culture in my three families. My first family is signing me up for all sorts of activities. My second family has an autistic son. My third family is vegetarian (vegetarians are very rare in France) and they live on a farm. Whoo!

Marie-Michele and I slept in Sunday. I took a shower there and had an incredibly hard time with the bathroom door (like I did at the Raux also). Side story: I got locked in a Paris bathroom when I was eight years old in France with my parents. I just have a problem with French bathroom doors. Later we went to mass at the gorgeous cathedral in Cambrai and I ran into a school friend, Laura. Then I found out the next day that she's my future neighbor next to the Robalos! Small world! :D Mass was the same as usual. I didn't really understand it, but I loved the songs and the beautiful architecture inside. After mass, the Raux came over for lunch at the Guisnets. The "lunch" lasted practically all day
with all the visiting and talking. For gatherings like that, people put out the nice silverware and make the food look really pretty. It was a nice, lazy day. I sort of dread Monday, even though school is generally good. It's just the mental anticipation for serious classroom work and getting up early that brings me down.

I think the reason that I haven't had much of a huge culture shock is that life here isn't really that different than life in America. I'm learning that people are people everywhere in the world. They make similar jokes. They have similar insecurities. They have similar appearances. They have unique personalities. Cambrai is to Snoqualmie like Lille is to Seattle. The teenagers here think Cambrai is too small, like my friends think Snoqualmie is too small, while Lille and Seattle are the more dynamic, exciting cities. Also, I'm an only child here like in my own family in America. I feel like it's sort of the same life only separated by an ocean and a language. Since I came here with a pretty good grasp of the language, that hasn't been my most difficult obstacle. I'm not sure what my biggest obstacle has been so far. It's mostly the little things that make me miss home... like being able to go visit friends or go out by myself. I know it's not a huge deal, but it doesn't feel like a vacation– and yet it doesn't feel like I'm going to be here for a year. I'm not quite sure what it feels like. I'm just experiencing everything, saying yes to everything even if I don't understand what I'm up against, and of course learning to laugh at myself and adapt to new changes. Sorry, I'm a big diary person. I tend to spill all the details about everything. But I'm done for now. Good bye lovely weekend, I await for the next with impatience :) A bientôt readers who made it to the end of this blog. Here are some pictures of Lille:

Marie-Michelle and I at the horseback riding club.

Me and my super big horse.

 The rug that I slipped and nearly died on in the house of Charles de Gaulle.


The leopard-print coat club :)
Random stranger in my picture.
Fancy hot chocolate
Enjoying our hot chocolates :)
The Guisnets!.... and that American girl.

At the amusement park!

Upside-down, turn around, reverse, dip, whoo!

Amusement park

I love Lille.


  1. I'd love to see some pix of the barn you rode at. It's almost a month since you left but it feels like a long time already. miss you and love you.


  2. Lille sounds like fun! I saw some pictures, and it looks like you had a great time.

  3. I'm so glad you love rollar coasters now!! :D (oh, i figured out my account again :P ) Again, I'm soo jealous about all this stuff, i mean, horse back riding, getting to stay with 3 different familys, eating cheese, and LIVING IN FRANCE!! It's just so awesome :)

  4. Talking about obstacles, is school getting easier now? I'm sure you'll finish the year with flying color as always:). So glad you had a amazing weekend my love.