November 10, 2011

The Mona Lisa Smiles

Sorry for my lack of blogging lately... these last two weeks have been crazy. Major recap time. So first things first: I saw PARIS!!! That city is incomparable to any other. It's so beautiful and wonderful; it's unreal. I admit, I only really saw it through my car window driving around with my eye glued in front of my camera while taking tons of blurry, sideways pictures. But still. It was on the way back from L'île de Ré and my host dad decided to surprise me with a two hour car tour around the city. He knows it like the back of his hand. I freaked out when I saw the Eiffel Tower. And the L'arc de Triomphe. And the Seine. And the beautiful Parisian people (or maybe they were tourists). I got out two times to take pictures of the Eiffel Tower. So here are the best pictures I managed to snag:

The home of the hunchback

So beautiful
Gorgeous, huh? When you see Paris at night for the second time in your time (the first being eight years ago)... you get a little mind blown. Actually anytime you see Paris, you get mind blown. But especially at night. The Eiffel Tower sparkles for five minutes every hour and we got to see it once! I guess the electricity bills don't come into play when dealing with the most visited monument in the world. But it's truly magnificent. Okay, enough gushing. Anyways.

I forgot to mention before Paris we stopped by a gorgeous castle called Chambord for lunch on the way back. So pretty and enormous. We didn't go inside, but walked around the outskirts.

Now for everything else...

For the last day of the Toussaints vacation I went up to Douai by myself on a bus to see some other exchange students. It was fun. We shopped around, then ended up going up to one of their houses to play Uno. The most exciting part was my train ride home. I don't know Douai very well so I was a little lost trying to find the train station and when I did I was really late. The machine for the tickets was frozen so I decided to just run for it and pay for my ticket on the train. Of course, my gate was at the very far end. The minute I reached the platform, the train started to move. I thought about chasing it, but then realized how stupid that was. I couldn't help thinking of those old vintage movies when the hero or the heroine misses the train by two minutes. For me it was like thirty seconds. :P Anyways, it was an experience. I waited it out and caught the next one. Something to remember: trains don't wait for anyone. I have to get there earlier so I don't have to be the flailing foreigner cursing as the train rolls by... seconds too early.

So then school started again for two more days until the week ended. That Thursday was insane and nonstop. Right after school I went to my first private horseback riding lesson. It went really well. I didn't fall and I learned new things. I was on a different horse that was a good foot shorter than my usual one and my instructor actually praised me at the end. Still, I don't really like starting seven years of horseback riding lessons over again to level one. But I'm lucky that I get this opportunity so I'll just work harder :) Then I ate a super super fast dinner (in like five minutes) and everyone rushed so I could get to the theater... thirty minutes early. I saw "Swan Lake" with my second host family sister Clothilde. I'm not a huge fan of ballet and I only knew about Swan Lake from "Barbie's Swan Lake" but it was amazing. I'm incredibly jealous of a ballerina's ability to trot around on the very tip of their toes. There was a real orchestra and everything. I was really attentive for the first half, but then I sort of dazed out for the second :/ You can't have too much of a good thing as they say... that goes for any spectacle with constant classical music. But it was a fun night. Sorry, pictures were forbidden and I didn't feel like getting kicked out of the theater.

Hmm... and then Friday came... and it was normal. The only memorable thing was when I went to Saint Bernard after school and got goggled at by some little girls that all knew my name, tried on every piece of my jewelry, and told me that I was their new best friend. They made me ask their teacher if I could help out with their class the next week. So I asked. Because a best friend is a best friend :) They also all wanted me to hug them and it was sweet because I miss hugging people. People just don't hug here :\

The weekend was exhausting but really fun. I had a Rotary meeting thing at my Rotary President's house. It's always fun seeing all the exchange students again. I had lunch over at a Taiwanese boy's house and carpooled over to Valenciennes with an Indonesian and an American (I love how international that just sounded). Then at the meeting, we talked and planned for our big Thanksgiving dinner coming up. We talked and planned and talked and planned... and we all spoke in French. For some people that worked better than others ;) Plus there was a giant bucket of candy in front of us the whole time so that helped keep our attention. After something like four hours, we headed over to a Swedish girl's house for a pizza party. Ten boxes of pizza sat on the table while everyone lounged about chatting with empty stomachs. Finally I spoke up and asked if we could eat the pizza after an hour had passed. Thank goodness I had or we might not have ever eaten. 

Every time we have one of these meetings, I get closer with different exchange students and we all share good stories. And not so good stories haha. I won't go into those details. At one point almost every one of the exchange students went outside to smoke and drink their wine. This happened while the Rotary President was present. In fact, he served the wine and opened the door to let the kids go out to smoke. Can you say so French? :) But yeah, I stayed inside and ate pistachio ice cream with some Americans and Indians. 'Cuz that's how I roll...
With the cheese puffs :)
Chicago, Seattle, New York, India, India, Vermont
American Power: Michigan, Chicago, Seattle, New York

Seattle, New York, India, India
In France... we know how to eat pizza.
And then I slept over at my Rotary President's house. No, it wasn't weird... it was a matter of practicality since Cambrai is out of the way. A Taiwanese, an Indian, and an American were also sleeping over. Calling them by their country is far more amusing than their names. The American, Rachel (there are seven of us so we need classification) and I talked forever. Until five in the morning actually. Oops haha.

Then the next day on Sunday I worked. Yeah, that's right. I did my homework all day like a studious French person or a studious-anybody-person. But I really proud at the end of the day (the very, very end of the day) when I had finished my entire Louvre Powerpoint, essay paper, and semi-prepared speech to go along with it. Very proud indeed.

So where are we?... Okay well the week after was incredibly busy and more packed than usual.
Monday: I got signed up to sing a solo in music class and I met the grandson of Marie Curie. No, I'm not lying. It was at one of those monthly Rotary dinners. Remember the last one when I met that famous soccer coach?... yeah, well this time was even fancier and more VIP. Of course, I was in jeans because the memo about the "VIP-ness" didn't get through to me. :P Embarrassing... but anyways, the food, the atmosphere, and the conversation was so much better this time. It was a smaller group so we ate in the fancy building and apparently someone taste-tasted everything beforehand. I didn't take pictures because I was so busy talking. The Rotarians are so nice and they all invited me to go places with them even though I'm busy every weekend up until Christmas :D Literally.

Fancy dessert :) <3

Mr. Grandson of Marie Curie :)
Tuesday: I attempted a Physics test for the first time. HAHA. It was ridiculous. I'd be super surprised if I even got one point on it. It was all about eyeballs with French vocabulary for the goo and everything... so yeah. We'll see how that one rolls out later. Then in the afternoon I presented my Louvre thing. It went really well :) Of course, I stumbled on my words a bit (because I didn't have a script) but I think I have my teacher's respect again so it's all good.

Then Wednesday came and it was kind of a weird day. For many reasons. For one, in the morning my class and some sophomore group walked to the local movie theater to go see a very old film called "The Fly." Worst. Decision. Ever. It was a horrible, disgusting, terrifying, horrific, traumatizing film... and not to mention the first one that I've seen at the Cambrai theater. I'm not going to explain it, just never, ever, ever, ever, ever watch it. I'm warning you. So after that lovely morning wake-up, we had some English classes and then we went to prepare for our Prix Littéraire. Everyone dressed up nice and it was kind of funny to see everyone straightening each others hair and putting on make-up right in the class while the teacher was there. The Prix Littéraire was something that we've been planning for a long time and it took place that night at the Hotel de Ville– a super pretty building that showcases the town.

Where our little party gig took place.
We were there to present the book "Le pacte des vierges" by Vanessa Schneider. It's about seventeen girls who all decide to get pregnant at the same time. We even had a little trophy for it. Yep. Parents and some important people came to listen to our speeches. We all drank champagne and orange juice. Here's some pictures that we took:
Première L :)

And then came Thursday. Ahhh! That day was amazing and so so so very busy. I went to Paris again!!! With my class to see the Louvre. But our timetable was super rushed and we only had two hours to see everything that we wanted to see at the Louvre and eat lunch as well. I stuck with three girls of my class and we ran around like wild taking pictures of all the paintings and sculptures with women in them because that was our assignment apparently. But naturally there was one painting that I had to see. Miss Mona Lisa herself. There actually weren't that many people in front of her, more than the other ones for sure, but it was super easy to get up to the front and take pictures.


We look good together, don't we? ;) The Mona Lisa is actually pretty small. You would think that it would be a huge masterpiece, but it's actually just a medium-sized masterpiece. It was pretty cool to see it in person rather than on Google Images. Google Images does a great job of capturing the Louvre, but still being there made it a million times cooler. When lunchtime came around, we left the Louvre and asked for directions to a food place (because the thought that the most famous museum in the world would have a food court never came to our minds) and the lady on the street turned out to be American so I spoke to her. The language whirlpool in Paris is massive. Chinese, Italian, English, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Dutch... oh yeah, and French.

I'm not exactly sure what this was... but it was funny.

Note the guy with the giant ring of plastic Eiffel Towers in his hand. It's against the law to sell stuff like that there :P

A statue? :)

Inside the pyramid!

Manon, me, and Dianne next to the upside down pyramid inside the Louvre.

Then after the Louvre we all got back on the bus and drove to this one pretty chic street with boutiques all selling 300 euro shoes. It was really fun but I'm not quite sure why we were there... I took some pictures. Walking around Paris is a lot of fun. There are so many things to look at all the time and everyone/everything seems so classy even with the millions of Asian tourists everywhere.

The Seine!

 But the excitement of Thursday didn't stop there. Right when I got off the bus, I was greeted by all three of my host families at our house. It was planned for all of them to come and have a raclette at our house. It was delicious and fatty like usual, plus it was fun talking with everyone again. All of the young people later went up to my room and we watched stupid, funny YouTube videos. Having host siblings is really nice.
Me, Martin (my Rotary counselor's son), Euphémie, Marie-Michelle, Clothilde, and Paul-Antoine.

People stayed until one in the morning! I was absolutely exhausted. There was no school the next day so thankfully I got to sleep in. I needed it.

So there we go. I finally updated you. Excuse me if I blog less often from now on. I'm rather busy and I should be getting more sleep. Life is good. I love France. Time is flying by very fast and I can't believe November is already here! A bientôt et bisous :)

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