Monday, September 27, 2010

35 days later...

One month. 4 weeks. 35 days. 696 hours. Even though there's a million ways to put it, it's still hard to comphrehend that I have been in france for a month now ( actually a month and a day, if you want to get technical). So much has happened since I began this adventure. So much has changed sicne I said goodybye to my life In the states. This month has definatley not been easy all the time but I have also experiance so many amazing things already in the short time I've been here. On saturday my host parents and I went to Monacco for a boatshow. The ride there was spectaclar- it was right along the coast of the medditeranien. Before we drove down to the port we ate lunch at a little cafe right by the sea. As I was eating my delicous salmon fillet, looking out at the sailboat spotted sea, I had another oh-my-gosh-i-am-so-lucky-to-be-here moment. I realized that a year ago I was sitting in my nice little room in Wisconsin, completing Rotary applications and talkign about the latest homecoming gossip. I had no idea that in a year I would living in the french riviera. My life has changed so much in a year and I know that this year will only add those changes. After we ate our lunch, we headed down to the port for the show. There were hundereds of mega-yachts filing the port. The yachts were unbelivable. One had a helicopter pad on the top and then an infiniti swimming pool on the middle deck. It was fun to see all the different boats. The majority of the people there were From England and Australia, but walking around I heard french(obviously), german, italien, and even some russian being spoken. The whether was good the whole day excpet for 10 minutes of rain- which actually felt good after a whole day of blazing sun. When the boat show wraped up my h.parents drive me through the city of Monaco. We stopped by the Monte Carlo was amazing to stand in the place that i have seen so many times in pictures and movies. Monaco is a great city- with a nice city life but still has a feeling a nature becasue of the beautiful mountains and sea.

Monday I started swimming. I love it and am so glad I decided to join the club. I reconized some kids from school so I hungout with them. But I also met a girl from CA and a boy from England that have been living in Antibes for 3 and 9 years becasue of their parents' jobs. So, i can speak French but when I don't understand something they help me out. The pool is outside- and we swim outside the whole year, which is a HUGE change from Wisconsin where I go to swim team int he winter with 3 feet of snow on the ground. Since we swim at night when the sun is gone- the air is colder than the water but once you get warmed up its fine. I actually enjoy being outside better than in a stuffy,chlorine infested building.

After swimming on Monday I went to a dinner with all the wives of the Rotarians and I Tuesday I went to bowling with all the Rotarians. Since my host is the club president- I go to a lot of rotary functions which is good, but I am also always the youngest person by at least 20 years.

My french is getting better but I the language barrier is still the hardest part. When you can't communicate to the people around you start to feel lonley. Add some tiredness and confusion to that and you have the perfect recipe for homesickness. But, thats all part of this program- leaving your life you 10 months isn't easy but you start to adapt and begin a new life- with new adventure and new challenges. I've learned that making mistakes helps you learn more so you can't beat yourself up when they occur. I make mistakes everyday- whether it's messing up my tenses in french or getting on the wrong bus, they are going to happen no matter what, the hard part is learning how to embrace them.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Let's get rich and buy our parents' homes in the South of France

Wow, So I've officially been in France for 3 weeks and 2 days. it honestly does not feel like its been that long, time goes by so fast here. A lot has happened since my last post. I started school on the 4th. The first day was really scary and intimidating- I was very confused and had to go down to the main office throughout the day so they could tell me where to go. But all of the kids in my class have been so welcoming and always make sure to help me out- the stereotype that French people are cold has proven to be very incorrect. I cant understand most of my classes- except english, and French is by far the hardest because they are learning about symbolism and analogies in poetry which is just WAY above my comprehension level at this point. The school system is so different here than in the US- when you don't have a class you are allowed to leave the building and when a teacher is absent class is canceled. My history teacher is gone alot- in the 2 weeks that I've been in school i've only had 3 hours of her class. On Wednesdays and fridays I get out at noon but on Thursdays I get out at 5 which sucks. In general I like school better here becasue you have more breaks: for example on Tuesdays I have a French then a 3 hours break and then spansih. But, sometimes you'll have 2-3 hours of the same class in a row- which is way too long in my opinion and is especially difficult when you dont understand anything. I try to take notes but even when I comprehend something the teacher says I have no idea how to spell it, so mostly i just listen or write in my journal then copy notes from my friends later. The language is still proving to be a challenge but I am noticing improvements everyday and had my first dream in french- even though i couldn't understand it, i think my brain is starting to catch on to the new language. The weather is starting to change here in Southern France aswell- its been raining more often and the days are starting to get a bit cooler, but its still warm enough to swim in the Mediterranean so I guess it's not that different. I am also starting to understand the bus system here as well, which is really nice because it gives me a little independence so I don't always have to rely on my host parents for rides. Life here is starting to feel like a normal life and not just a vacation like it felt like the first week. I am starting to make French friends, I am doing French homework, I listen to French music and am overall am diving into this new and beautiful culture. Although, i truly love it here, I do miss my family and friends at home on the States a lot. I miss having independence like I had in the States. At home I could walk almost everywhere so hanging out with my friends was not a big deal- but here it takes days of planning ahead of time for something to pull through. I guess that's really not a bad thing, I should probally learn how to plan things better anyways. Yesterday I went on a hike at the Cap d'Antibes which is a STUNNING walk right on the Mediterranean sea. i was listening to music as I looked out at the beautiful mountains and sea and realized how lucky I am to be here. The contrast between my life in Wisconsin and my life here is so strong, but that doesn't mean I love either of them less. Actually, being here has made me appreciate my home and my loved ones even more. Next weekend I'm going to Monacco with my host dad for a boat show and next monday I start swimming! Oh, and about the title of this post those are song lyrics from the Song "You and I" by ingrid Mcihelason. Me and the other exchange student here, heard that song and were like "ahhhh we're in Southern France right now and we SHOULD buy our parents homes here!" Its a really good song so I'll post it here. And finally some pics from he last few weeks...