October 3, 2011

Bowling! Exchange students! Braderie!

This weekend was amazing. So great. Really wonderful. It was painful to get up Monday morning for school, even though the day was actually pretty good. I officially think that I maybe have some type of cold. Everyone is sick in my school; it's that lovely time of constant coughing and Kleenex blowing. I think colds spread faster in France with people giving each other air kisses all the time. My throat was killing me all weekend, but that didn't stop me from having an absolute blast.

Weekends are too short. Fact.

Saturday was an incredibly, incredibly, busy, non-stop, hot, sunny day. I had horseback riding in the morning, like usual, with Marie-Michelle and we all went on another beautiful walk outside around the canals and forests. My horse finally walked at a good pace. It was the third bowl of porridge; not too slow and not too fast. We got to trot along the long empty trails by the corn fields. It almost felt like we were galloping past all the fields like all those cowboys riding off into the sunset in those corny movies... well at least it looked liked we were going faster than we were by our shadows on the ground :)

I had to change my clothes at the barn because immediately afterwards we had to leave for Valenciennes (a town thirty minutes away from Cambrai). We had lunch there and then went bowling with all the other exchange students in my district. Whoo! It was so much fun seeing everyone again. Only two Americans weren't there, but besides that we were a pretty culturally diverse group. We got a new kid; a Colombian who arrived in France later than the rest of us. Here's everybody at lunch:
Peace in universal, but exchange students happen to be extra "peaceful." I'm puny, I know.
The restaurant is known for its potatoes... thus every option on the menu involved potatoes in some form. I had the salmon gratin which is a potato thing with salmon and cheese in it. That's me looking sweaty and awkward with my food:
... and the dessert was amazing. Oh lordy, I'm going to get so fat here by the end of the year. My dessert was very dramatic, delicious, and absolutely scrumptious. It was a big vanilla meringue topped chocolate ice cream and whipped cream all floating in a chocolate late. I hope your mouth waters when you see it.

Of course I shared it. Just because I'm going to gain weight doesn't mean that I really want to speed up the process.
Yeah, you're jealous.

After lunch was the main event. Bowling! Just like badminton, I am not exactly the best player. Umm, let me rephrase that. I'm really really bad at bowling. I can't even remember the last time I bowled. There were about fifteen of us and I came in last place out of everyone. Check out my skillage.

It's hard to see, but almost all of the guy's pins are down while my ball is in the gutter.
However, I won the second game because someone else bowled for me most of the time :) Why was someone else bowling for me? Three words: Foreigners with Cameras. Me and a group of others went on a little photo adventure around the place. Here are the results of our hard work.

With the Japanese exchange student, Miwako :)

Indian exchange students with their flag. I can't spell their names :P
Left to right: American, Argentinian, Japanese, American (me)
Yeah... we asked that random waitress to be in our picture. We're so cool :)
Everyone! Countries represented here: Taiwan, Columbia, Japan, Indonesia, America x4 , Argentina, India x2

I got to get to know some of the students better than the time before and all in all it was great. However, the bowling alley was super hot and everyone was really tired and sweaty by the end of it. My host parents and Anne-Soizic weren't too content at the end of the day because they didn't get to bowl and they were overheated. I asked Anne-Soizic if she had liked the outing and she practically told me that she would have rather stayed at home. She said it rather bluntly. So.... well.... sorry, occasional host sister. :P
Hi there host dad! Xavier :)
After bowling we drove Kirana, the Indonesian exchange student, back to our house. She came to sleepover so we could go to Douai the next day for the braderie :) She speaks fluent English, but not so much French. It was a fun dinner with some galettes (look it up) and two desserts (extremely unusual for Marie-Armelle, who is very conscious of her fitness). Chocolate mousse and a citron pudding! Kirana and I stayed up until one in the morning thanks to all that sugar from dessert and also because of our addiction to stupid, funny YouTube videos. My stomache hurt from laughing so much. But when we were finally trying to fall asleep, we couldn't stop laughing at Xavier's snoring! We were downstairs with the door closed, but like I've said so many times: His snoring is the loudest of the loudest. I can't believe how easily sound travels in this house... It was really funny though to hear it, well not really, but we were so tired that everything seemed funny. I had to get my headphones and find a regular pair for Kirana. Eventually we fell asleep and then woke up late the next day around eleven. We had to rush like crazy to make our train for Douai at noon. It was my first time taking the train and it was really fun. It was more modern than I thought it would have been... I was sort of expecting a Hogwarts style train, I admit :)

So I think the plan was to eat lunch at Kirana's but we didn't feel like walking all the way over there in the heat so we just ate at a café. We just wanted a quick bite to eat... What were we thinking? We had to wait thirty minutes just for a grilled cheese sandwhich (un croque monsieur) and a pizza! It was ridiculous. We were starving exchange students. Finally the food came and it was... okay. Meh. Mediocre. Not the best. Not worth thirty minutes of watching people walk by our table eating food and carrying shopping bags.

So that folks, would be the infamous Sandwich Worth Thirty Minutes of Waiting.

Then we hit the braderie! So you ask, "What's a braderie?" Well kids, a braderie is like a gigantic garage sale in the street for everyone to shop at. Giant sales everywhere. All the stores lower their prices. It's also like a fair with balloons and cotton candy everywhere. However, I didn't buy much. I tried on some shoes, but they didn't fit. Here are some pictures of that wonderful sunny day:


Kelly (American) and Kirana (Indonesian) enjoying their cotton candy a.k.a the yellow and pink sheep :)

Later we met up with Kelly, an American, and Irene, an Italian– whose not with the Rotary but an exchange student here in France for a couple months. We found a little booth selling random pins for ten cents each and spent twenty minutes digging through the box. We each found a lot of pins– all for our Rotary blazers :) The pins don't make any sense contrasted with all the pins from different countries, but they look cool. Then we bought ice cream. Yeah, I have a picture. There are special cones for two scoops. The ice cream scoops are smaller than the scoops in the United States because naturally America needs bigger scoops to feed its bigger people.

Later, Kirana and I left to go back to her house. We went past her school on the way. It's bigger than mine and more modern looking because it's a public school. She has to walk to school most of the days and her route is looong! Like thirty minutes if you're walking normally, but at least there's a pretty canal to walk by. It's like the one in Proville.

Kirana is also an only child like me here in France, but her host parents are pretty cool. They are really chill and give her a lot of freedom to take the train, go out, hang out with friends, eat in town, etc. as long as she can get back home on her own. They're hosted exchange students before so I guess they know how this whole thing works and what the limits are. Her room is like an attic and the stairs are ridiculously steep. I almost wiped out on them :P We all munched on tarts together with my host parents (who came a bit later) and Kirana's host grandparents.
So I got to see another life of an exchange student. I don't have any new regrets or praises for mine. It was just a nice experience to see how someone in my situation is fairing. It's different for her though because she can't speak French very well and she has two other mostly-English-speaking exchange students in her class. Other past exchange students told me before I left America to not become too close with the other exchange students because then you'll only talk with them and not the native people. However, I think it's nice to interact with all of them because you get to learn a lot about other cultures and see how similar everyone is to each other aside from the fact that we all live thousands of miles apart from one another. Kirana seems very American to me. Maybe I seem very Indonesian to her :)

So the weekend was incredibly fun. Anne-Soizic left Sunday night and Marie-Armelle was a little sad. They're like best friends, her and Anne-Soizic. It's nice when she comes to visit because the house gets a bit more homey and everyone talks more. But life's good anyways.

So now Monday...

It was actually a pretty good Monday, even though my head was still stuck in the clouds from the weekend. I walked to school and started with ECJS. It was with my history teacher. That's pretty much all I can explain about the purpose of the class. Today all of us walked down into town from the school to go to the office of tourism to get some flyers and then to the cathedral where we walked around for awhile too. It was so random, but a rather nice morning outing. Then I had French class where I got the chance to finish reading my book! Whoo! Third one down in French! Oscar et la dame rose. Everyone who sees it tells me it's really good and now I am going to do the same. It was a really sweet and beautiful story about a little boy with cancer who lives his last days like each is equivalent to ten years. I almost teared up at the end. It's great to understand a story's emotions when it's written in French.

I ate in the cafeteria again and talked with a lot of different people. I'm not a huge fan of the loud, noisy, busy, crowded cafeteria but I like eating with other teenagers. Since I can go into town by myself, I've made plans to go shopping after school with Marie-Michelle soon. I think Kirana's parents talked with mine because today they seemed a bit looser and a little more willing to let me go out on my own. After school ended, I went over to Justine's house and helped her with her English homework. We started to make cookies after that, but then her brother Thibault asked me to help him with his English as well. I managed to multitask, giving English lessons while mixing cookie batter. It was a lot of fun! They are very nice people and I like hanging out with them. Marie-Armelle was a little frazzled today because she had to drive up to Belgium to see her daughter. Anne-Soizic lost her house key so her mom had to give her a spare :P I would have thought that going to Belgium would be a fun thing to do, but Marie-Armelle doesn't like things that interrupt the program and the things that she has planned out.

I had no time to rest or blow my nose after Justine's because I had to go to my club's Rotary meeting. It was in a different location and much shorter than the last meeting. Everyone had to stand up the whole time. I had some more champagne there with some delicious, elegant snack food. However, when I saw some green goo with what looked like whipped cream on top, I irrationally thought that it was a green apple desert pudding with whipped cream. But no. It was a not-so-tasty green vegetable goop with mayonnaise. Bleck. But I had to eat it like everyone else. People don't waste food in France. Also, I had to make a little speech with some pictures again. It went well and people said my French is much better than last time. I wore my blazer with my newly added pins. It's classy, I must say.

And here's a random story: Something quite amusing happened in the car with Marie-Armelle. A song came on the radio and she smiled and said she loved that one so she turned it up really loud. I sort of dozed out but then suddenly I realized that the chorus was simply repeating "F you" over and over again. It was sort of embarrassing and awkward listening to it at first, but then I had to try really hard to refrain from laughing when Marie-Armelle started singing along to it. Oh boy. Can you imagine that? A Catholic school teacher singing that song. Thank goodness she didn't really understand what the song meant. But it did have a catchy beat, I must say...

Also when I was walking home from school on Friday some random dude threw a bear can out of his window and it almost hit me :P I wasn't sure what to think of that. And then when I was walking home on Monday some guy in a van honked at me and gave me a peace sign with a straight face as he zoomed by. So random. He actually looked normal. Curiouser and curiouser... but I hope this isn't a daily thing– strangers in cars getting my attention in weird ways.

Well... I'm absolutely exhausted. It's midnight and my host dad's snoring is at its worst. There's probably typos in this blog because I'm so tired. Plus my throat is killing me. I don't like Tuesdays so wish me luck tomorrow :P Good night everyone. A bientôt et bisous :)

P.S. How in the world is it October already???


  1. haha that´s cool.. i want to go shopping to braderie.

  2. Love your bloggs! So well written and amusing, with such honesty! Love to see rest of the photos too. I think hanging out with people from around globe is a incredible opportunity, I'm glad you enjoyed so much. Since you can go to town and eat out now, it's time to try some more interesting food besides potatoes:)
    much love to you.hugs.