That's a rather odd combination, don't you think? Well it just so happens to be a combination of some of the things in my daily exchange student life... yeah, this combination is wonderful, rather odd, and is always guaranteed to change by the next day– or the next hour. Nothing really stays the same for too long here in France, except for my host dad's snoring. That's a given.
Friday, oh Friday, oh sweet sweet Friday. I love only having three classes and getting to leave at 2:25 while everyone else has their big D.S. test :D Economics in the morning passed by like the usual. It's my goal in that class to simply copy the textbook into my own notebook and make it look like it's my own brilliant note-taking skills. Pretty good goal, I would say. And good news in the sports department. I can serve underhand now at badminton! It was a miracle. The little feathered ball thing actually went over the net every time I served it! But then we learned new techniques and I failed miserably again. However, I am improving. Someday I'll be in the badminton Olympics and will have my French P.E. class to thank for that. Haha. It's not late at night now so I guess I don't have an excuse for my bad jokes. Sorry.
Also, when I was walking back from the gym for lunch my school bag broke! The strap snapped and it just fell off my shoulder to the ground. I was shocked and rather disappointed because I was growing fond of my Frenchie bag. My friends helped me temporarily fix the strap, but it won't last for very long. I guess it's off to the bag store again next week, but I'm not one to complain about some more shopping :D I ate in the cafeteria again with Miss Marie-Michelle and Hélène. Some other people invited me to sit with them while I was making my way through the mass of people–oh excuse me, the line– but they were finished by the time I had gotten my slab of pizza and fries. It's a bummer. I had rushed to grab my food so I could eat with them and in my haste grabbed two appetizers, thinking one of them was a dessert. These details are probably redundant but I was quite upset. Don't you hate it when you take a potato puff thinking it's an apple tart? And then have random people around you give you strange looks for why you took (good heavens!) TWO appetizers? No? That's never happened to you? Okay. This is awkward... moving on.
The teachers here sort of just let me do my own thing, even if it means a lot of doodling... *cough* *cough* geography class. There's no way that I can keep up with all the names of these French cities, streets, buildings, trees, lakes, etc. At least, I think that's what everyone was talking about today... It couldn't have been too important... Right? :P Anyways, I drew a nice Eiffel Tower on my agenda's page for Thursday (PARIS!) and that fit my geography comprehension lesson for the day.
After school, I immediately left for St. Bernard for my usual weekly visit with the little ones. My feet hurt now– I really have to break into my new stylin' boots that no one but my host mom commented on. Anyways, I didn't get lost on my route today+ no stranger asked me to have cake at his house+ my feet didn't bleed in my new shoes+ I avoided stepping on all the cigarette butts. I would say it was a pretty successful walk. It was sunny outside, but freezing. The wind has blown in the new winter trend of rainy, cloudy, gray weather. Sadly, it makes Cambrai feel more like home in Seattle. For the first time it wasn't 984398º C in the school classrooms and I wasn't red in the face like a pig all day. We played Lotto in class and I called out the numbers (in English) and the kids all got super excited when they had the number. Most of the time they just called out that they had the number simply to call out something. I love how happy little kids get at simple things like getting their number called at Lotto. A lot of people at school have told me that their little brother/sister in the class had talked about me to them. I wish I could remember names with faces. It's mostly me thinking like: "Oh, uh, there's the little boy with glasses that looks like Harry Potter and has a backpack two times the size of his body." It's never just: "Oh yeah that's Paul." There's something I forgot to note from the very first time I helped out at St. Bernard. When the teacher wrote the word "American" on the board she asked me if she had spelled it right in English... but for some odd reason the word looked so wrong spelled like that. I went up to it and changed it until it looked right. The teacher had frowned and gave me a weird look. I had spelled it the French way: Americain. That was embarrassing and yet slightly pleasing for me. Symbolic for my immersion into France? Oh yes.
After the hardcore Lotto game, I had to go see Sylvie for a meeting with all the other teachers. Sylvie is the principal of the school and also my Rotary counselor. I was expecting to talk with her a little bit about school, my family, and general life in France so far... but that didn't really happen. I talked in front of the teachers for about ten minutes about myself and then listened to them chat about school stuff for the rest of the hour. It was really sunny and warm in the room... I was exhausted... and it was incredibly hard to keep my eyes open... so I almost, almost, almost fell asleep sitting on a desk in front of everyone. That would have been very bad and embarrassing. I need to sleep more at night like the rest of the world does.
The next morning I got up early without much sleep– no relationship to the previous above sentence :P – and thus the weekend began. Whoo! Saturday was absolutely jam packed with one thing after another with no breaks to breathe or eat a yogurt or even sit down and ponder about the less important things in life. I had a very hard horseback riding lesson with Marie-Michelle first thing in the morning. Note I didn't just say "I had horseback riding..." No. It was a lesson. And a lesson it was. I ride in group lessons, so with six other girls who are all more advanced than me. The teacher is very strict and not very subtle when he says hows much lower my riding level is than the others'. We did a lot of exercises and learned new techniques. I had to get off my horse so many times so my teacher could get on and show me how to do the exercise right. And for all you that know the size of my dear horsie– that wasn't the easiest thing to do. Every time I jumped down, my legs turned to jelly like leaping off of a miniature cliff. At the end of the lesson I got a "not bad" from my teacher, followed by a: "Aja, you continue going around in circles. The rest of you start the new exercise." Ouch. Good bye sun-dappled walks around the canal and through fields of flowers... it's time to work, that is– after my horse gets over his "food withdrawals" every time we ride. I swear you could leave a horse in the world's biggest salad bar and it would think that it landed in Heaven. Same for me in the world's biggest cheese bar. That probably exists in France, come to think of it...
After horseback riding I quickly changed clothes, brushed my hair, washed off the horse slobber from my arm–got all ready to go have lunch at the Robalo's– when... Marie-Michelle's mom told us she was thirty minutes late. She had forgotten to pick us up. It's sort of funny how opposite my first and third families are. The Raux family is usually always on time and has everything planned out each day, while the Guisnet family is always late. Whenever I'm with Marie-Michelle, we're late: to lunch, back from lunch, to school, from school, to Lille, from Lille, to horseback riding, back from horseback riding, to shopping, from shopping, etc. etc. It's okay though. She's pretty chill. Being late doesn't bother her. Nothing really bothers her. I have a feeling that I'm going to really like living with that family later on. For the thirty minute wait we hung out in the barn house and ate some Nutella and cookies. I was 70% sure that we weren't allowed to rummage through the food there, despite what Marie-Michelle said... but I was hungry.
The lunch with my second host family (the Robalos) was really fun. We ate hamburgers. They rarely eat hamburgers. I have a feeling that it was because people automatically glue the "American" title to me, thus American=hamburgers. They were good hamburgers, though. It was probably the third hamburger I've ever eaten. I'm not that American. I love my future host brother, Gregoire. He's eleven, autistic, and the sweetest thing. He gives everyone hugs all the time and tells women that they're beautiful when he sees them for the first time. He also watches TONS of Disney movies all the time. I think we're going to get along well :) I helped Clothilde (my host sister that's my age) with her English homework afterwards and hoped that I actually did it right. I didn't have much of a break between the Robalo's and my next destination: Mathilde's house with Justine. I only had time to grab my camera before I left to bake some American cookies! The cookies were awesome. We jammed out to music the whole time while we sang (beautifully, of course :P ) to all the hits. Instead of separating the cookies into little balls, we made two giant logs and then cut them up into smaller pieces. It worked a lot better. It was really fun and I have some pictures for you curious folks:
|Mathilde :) Chopping our cookies...|
|Mathilde's cat! Grison was his name, I think.|
|Our cookie log|
|Almost ready for the oven...|
|In the oven.|
|I don't look awkward at all. (Sarcasm intended)|
|Yum. The cookies were amazing. Great self-timer skills again. Trust me, it took a long time to get this picture right. It came after ten that didn't work.|
I had to jog home because I was late to my next activity. Music class. The Saturday group is ridiculously talented and the songs are incredibly difficult to play. Most of the time I just listened and moved my fingers around over the notes. We have a concert in a couple weeks that I might play in... for two hundred people! Yikes! We'll see how that plays out. My lips hurt after the two hours of constant playing (or in my case, pretending to play). Marie-Armelle and Xavier were at mass when I got home, but Anne-Soizic had returned for the weekend. I helped her cut out random pictures from newspapers that she needs for her internship job helping children who can't speak well. The pictures are for a matching game. It's to show how dedicated she is to her work– cutting out the pictures instead of printing them out. It was fun talking with her about everything while finding pictures of hair driers and pineapples. Dinner was also fun. It's always better when Anne-Soizic is here. Her parents are happier, more talkative, and generally the atmosphere is better. It feels more like a real family lives in the house. We had a long, intense conversation about Steve Jobs and Macs vs. PCs. I'm a total Mac person so naturally I put a very strong word in there for Macs. Xavier is one of those PC users who have used PCs for a long time, then tried using a Mac, got very frustrated because it's very different and easier to use than a PC, thus then deciding that he will never buy a Mac again in his life. It was interesting to debate with them. We all eventually came to the conclusion that Macs are better. Well, that was my conclusion.
My day still wasn't over after that. After watching the news with the family and taking my cough drops, I helped Anne-Soizic glue all her pictures to some cardboard. So much glue. It went everywhere and in the end I think she decided to start all over and print out the pictures from the Internet :P I love arts and crafts. I miss those arts and crafts days back home where I spent days working on random arts and crafts projects in my basement while watching old movies at the same time. Oh man... speaking of slight nostalgia, I Skyped my friend last night too. It was the first time I Skyped someone other than my parents. She told me all about life back home. Hold on. I'm going to spill some of my thoughts now. When you're in your daily life you tend to mostly focus on the things that you wish you could change until you leave and miss everything that's great and beautiful– the things you couldn't see until you left. However, it was nice to hear about the things that I don't miss at all like tons of homework, tests, mean people, an unfriendly school, etc. It makes being here so so so much better. I was so ready to leave America at the end of August, but I've had many relapses here of sweet memories and people that I miss, but I have to remind myself that I'm going to get that life back. I won't get a repeat of this year. The best that I can do is just live life every day like it's my last day– and appreciate things for the way they are. It's just sad that we all need to leave a place before realizing how much we miss what we left behind. It's hard to look back at how wonderful some people and things are when there's no distance for you to turn your head back and miss them. It's like watching a sunset. When your next to the sun, you just complain at how hot is it and how sweaty and overheated you are... but when you're watching the sun set at a distance, you realize how beautiful it is... and wish that you were still standing beside it. Whoa... just went off there by myself on a little trek inside my brain. That probably only made sense to me. My metaphors have their on and off days. Not sure which day they were on today. You tell me. Basically, I miss the people that I left back at home. I miss them a lot, but it's not going to stop me from making this year incredible. Life will keep moving. I just have to keep up with it. Whoo... that was a fun random insert of my current thoughts. Let's go to Sunday now.
Sunday (today) is so far a very, very simple day. It's a rest day. It's my first chance to just chill and relax since I came here. It's just as well because I have a very busy week ahead of me. Very, very busy– I believe. I slept in super late and spent the morning helping Marie-Armelle make food for the day. I love kitchen atmospheres when it's gray and rainy outside. It's warm and everything smells good when food's cooking. We made an apple tart, potatoes, a zucchini stew, a beef rôti, plus some more lovely things. Here's some of our creations:
|Beef in progress. Check out all that butter!|
|Apple tart! <3|
|Stews and potatoes :)|
For the first time, I'm not going to say good night because actually it's not the middle of the night for a change. I'm writing this in the living room with my host family while Anne-Soizic and Xavier are cutting out random pictures from Google Images, Marie-Armelle is chopping carrots, and all of us are drinking tea like the British do. French keeps floating over my head while I write this in English. Culture clash all the way. Good afternoon/ morning/ night– wherever you are in this big world. A bientôt et bisous :)