September 29, 2011

American Pom Pom Girls

First off, I actually do have a reason for that classy title. You'll see.

I'm really glad that I waited to write my blog until tonight because if I had written it last night, it wouldn't have been too great... because I wasn't doing too great. Things are better now, so here goes. Yesterday, I wasn't too thrilled with... well, life in general. I didn't want to go to school. I didn't want to stay at home. I didn't want to do anything. I wanted to do everything. I wanted everything I didn't have. I kept wishing for things to change– and then they did change the next day and I felt better. Yesterday was just not a good exchange student day. I felt detached from this French world and even more detached from America. You know, a little lost in this parallel universe (stole that from a song). The crumminess started with my four hours of English... all about stuff that I learned in elementary school. The thing that bothered me, though, was that someone else took my spot in class so I ended up in the very back row next to a very nice but timid girl who didn't really talk to me. I felt less involved so I raised my hand at every question and commented a lot. There's only twelve girls in my class and everyone is already in pairs. The six pairs sit next to each other in every class and no one ever changes the arrangement. So now I'm really hoping that my new seat-buddy will warm up to me. I remember the first day seeing her and thinking that somehow the two of us would end up sitting by each other. We're sort of the random students who don't have a definite seating pair like the others, but I guess now we do. Did any of that make sense? I have a feeling that the seating arrangements are not going to change for the whole year :P Also, I'm tired of having so much English every day. I'm here to learn French. I like helping my teachers out and actually succeeding in class, but I have eight hours of English each week and nine hours of study hall that I normally just stay home and sleep through. My schedule is all messed up, but I'm tired of changing it. But on the brightside, French class was much better that afternoon. I wrote up a review on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and had a friend correct the grammar. I was pretty proud of myself, I must admit.

Later I had theater again. I walked there after school and got lost. Luckily I ran into my second host mom on the street as she was on her way to pick up her daughter, who also does theater in a younger age group right before my class starts. I dropped my croissant in surprise :P (Haha, how French is that? Walking down the streets with a croissant...) Anyways, I found the theater, went inside, spent two hours there... and now I think that I'm not going to go back next week. I really don't like quitting things, but under the current circumstances it's not really "ma truc" (my thing). For one, it's difficult to understand the dialogue and repeat it. And also, half of the seven kids in my group are sort of normal and the other half are sort of not normal. I had a friend in the previous class, but she had to move to a different hour so... here's the current role call: one boy with frizzy blond hair down to his shoulders who wears a long black cape to school occasionally; another boy who likes to randomly leave the class and who is extremely skinny, out of it, twitchy, and for his life cannot follow directions; another boy who has eyes that never stop moving–not to mention that last year he cut off a good size piece of my neighbor Sophie's hair for no particular reason during class (I protected my hair in a bun the whole time when around him); two girls that are in my grade but seem to be in sixth grade; and one other boy who is rather nice and funny. Voilà. And then there's me. The American girl who can't understand anything. Half normal, half not.

Now another rant, I'm sorry.

Whenever I tell my friends at school that I'm an only child living with the Raux, they give me a sympathetic look. Marie-Armelle used to teach cathelicism at the school so everyone thinks that she is super religious all the time. It's not true. The only religious thing we do is go to mass, but still she's definitely more... uh... classic? She prefers classic furniture, classic clothing, uncrowded shopping malls, calm dinners, etc. And most of you know that I, on the other hand– being a 16-year-old in the country of France– love excitement, lots of people, lots of stores and everything bigger, brighter, and louder. My host mom's really nice, though, and very generous with all my activities. Living with different kinds of families is part of this whole experience. Sometimes it's great, but sometimes it makes me wish that I could change families already. I just don't like being an only child here. There, I said it. It's nice to have more opportunities like music classes, theater, and horseback riding, but I think the only reason I'm doing this ridiculous amount of activities (minus the horseback riding) is to be around more people and have some fun with people my own age. Whenever Morgan or Anne-Soizic is around the house, things are always louder, happier, and more familiar. It feels more like a home with all the laughter and excitement. Normally I would never write this on a public website, but like I said– this is now my public diary and I seriously hope you all don't think I'm not enjoying myself at all, because I am. There are always good moments that make all the hurt and pain and nostalgia and tears TOTALLY worth it. I love it when these moments take me surprise and make my whole day better. Experiences, experiences, experiences... why must there always be the good, the bad, and the ugly... wouldn't it be nice if they all just involved laughing, friends, voyaging, and cheese? If only.

Okay, now some good stuff :) Today was better. I walked to school by myself and didn't get lost for a change. I have become an expert jaywalker here. The driving is sort of a free for all. When there's a space between cars, you just run across (crosswalks? No, I don't think so) and hope that you can make it. Generally, people make it. I don't know about the exceptions. Classes wise, today I had English, then more English, then recess where I talked with Céline the whole time about American culture things like.... wait for it... "Do you have pom pom girls in your school"? a.k.a: cheerleaders. The French people are really surprised and jealous to find out that cheerleaders really do exist in American schools ("with the special uniforms?!") like they do in all the American T.V. shows ("and they date all the football players?!") Afterwards, I got a lovely surprise in study hall. It was a tiny class of about fifteen students and they all knew each other. I ran into my friend Mathilde (I went to her house with Justine) so I started talking with her. Then suddenly everyone crowded around me when they realized I was the American and asked me questions for the whole hour. We had a pretty chill supervisor who actually let us talk the whole time. My head spun around like crazy, but I was capable of having a normal conversation with all fifteen of them. They were amazed that the "pom pom girls" exist in America and also that I could talk to them with having to hesitate or think about what I wanted to say. Some of them live in Proville so maybe I'll see them around... that is, when I get some good ole freedom from my good ole Catholic school teacher host mom. Speaking of Marie-Armelle, she's been working on this one project of hers for a long time. She's making a giant Powerpoint presentation about Abraham and religious art (paintings, statues, mosaics, etc.) with her voice added in as commentary. She wants to send it to a professor for his/her opinion and then present it to other people. It's her dream :) She works diligently all the time on it. I have to admit, that lady knows her Bible. Also, she told me that she loves Jewish history as well, but when I asked her if she knew about Hanukkah she went blank and googled it... :) Let's leave it at that.

Random intermission: I think I might be coming down with something because today my throat started feeling dry and painful :P I think I might have caught something from the girl that I have to sit by in all my classes. Everyone is constantly sneezing and asking for tissues in my classes. It's that lovely "everybody in the school is sick" season. Oh well, I'm drinking lots of tea.

After lunch, I had history and economy class where I had a take a test in both of them. They were true/false tests and I actually did well! The grading system is out of 20 points in France, but apparently if you get 14/20 that's good (that was my score for both tests). I don't know the equivalent in America, but it's not translated into letter grades or percentages. I totally guessed on the economy questions, but surprised myself by actually knowing most of the history questions... I just had trouble with reading the actual question in French. Thanks Mr. Bopp (my history teacher from last year) :) I did better than my neighbor :D Mad guessing skills, right here.

I had my music class with the little ones in the evening. It was nice because the little boy next to me helped me learn how to read French music notes. I have to translate all the notes into "do, ré, mi, fa, sol, la, si" on top of remembering how to even play my clarinet. A girl in my music class at school has loaned me a book of easy Disney songs to play for the audition in November. I'm thinking "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" would be a good one :)

And– oh! I forgot to mention two very important things... 1) My debit card finally arrived at the bank! Only three weeks late, you know... It's very cute with a picture of Lille on it entitled with the theme "Ch'tis". 2) Secondly, I finished reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory three days ago! Whoo! I read it much faster than Harry Potter so I think my French reading level is going up :) Now I'm reading Oscar et la dame rose, a French book written by a French writer. It's for middle schoolers, but I like it and it's easy enough for me to understand.

Well, tomorrow is Friday. This week has been very long and verrrrrry hot. Each day I come home red-raced and slightly sunburned. But I don't think the sun is going to stick around very long, like I hope the pain in my throat won't. So readers, I have to say that I'm very tired. I tend to spend way too much time writing these blogs because I like to write about everything and everyone. Good night. A bientôt et bisous.


  1. Wow, 14/20 that's just awesome! Economics!- that's what makes the world go around these days:) We are SO proud of you! And all last years hard work on history is paying dividends too:) hooray Aja! I do agree that 8 hours of English is a bit much but maybe you can use the time to blog:)!
    We are having nice weather too, warm and sunny:-)
    You should give Marie-Armelle a Hannukka present this year and tell her the story in French of course:)
    Are you going to have school break soon?
    Love you so so much.

  2. Aja!!!! We need to skype. As in tomorrow. I'm glad you're having so much fun, and I'm glad you're learning a lot of French.
    Love you!!
    Terra :)