Monday, March 28, 2011

C'est la printemps

IT'S SPRING ( translation of title)

Yes folks it is officially Spring here in the Cote d'azur! This past weekend it was 70 and sunny although it is raining as of now, I choose to believe that from now on the weather will only get warmer! Since the last post I started school up again which to be honest was a bit of a drag but am getting back into the swing of things I suppose. My French, Philosophy and history teacher were absent last week which cut off 11 hours of school so I can't really complain ( don't worry mom I am studying very, very hard :P). OH and today we got our history tests back which was a 2 hour essay based on the question " How did France transform politically from 1848 to 1914?". That was the only prompt we were given and I will admit that I did not study in the least for it because I was not aware that we were taking it so I was basically writing whatever cam to my head. So, when we got our tests back today I was happy to see I got 8/20 which sounds really awful but is actually equivalent to like a C / C- and she said she graded mine exactly how she graded everyone elses so I felt pretty good. The girl next to me got a 7 and the other girl got an 8 too when she saw that I got the same grade as her she asked me if I just memorized it from the book and I told her I didn't even know we were taking it. Some people in my class don't understand the fact that my French isn't were it was in the begginging of the year and still attempt to speak broken English which annoys me sometimes but I understand they are trying to be helpfull and I normally just respond in french.

My Host Parents are In Turkey right now on vacation so my host grandparent's are staying with my host brother and I. Maria, my host grandma is Polish and moved to France when she was 28 so she speaks French with a very thick Polish accent- she prounouces her R and E's in a way that to me sounds more like german then french but I really, really like her- she is the sweetest lady you could meet and altough she's only stayed with us for little over a week she feels like my real grandma! I asked her to teach me some Polish but gave up that after it took me a 1/2 hour to say "hello" correctly ( Dzhen Dobry - prounced Jen Dobre). Friday was my friends 18th b-day so we went out and celebrated, it was a good night :) But, I wanted to go to the market with Maria on Saturday at 10 so I got approximatley 5 hours of sleep! However, it was worth it becasue I had never gone to the markets in Antibes before plus afterwards we went out and got pizza and nutella icecream. We got home and I was so exausted while I was reading my book in the backyard I ended up falling asleep for 2 hours. I got up and looked at the time expecting it to be late but when I saw it was only 1:30 I remebered that I hadn't actually slept in till noon as i normally do on Saturdays- it was a nice feeling having a full day ahead of me ( i think Im gonna make it my new goal to wake up earlier on weekends from now on...we shall see how long that lasts ;) ). Since It was such a beautiful day I wanted to get up and out so I called up the exchange student in Cannes and we meet up at the beach. While we were attemping to burry ourselves in the sand we heard some other teenagers beside us speaking Englsh with little english accents so we decided to go over and talk to them. Turns out they all live here and go to an International School in Mougins where the majority of the classes are taught in English. We ended up going to dinner with all of them and had a great time just talking, again sometimes it's nice to hang out with english teenagers where I never have to worry about language and also the humor and behavior between French and English people are different aswell. Sunday it was raining and I was extremley exhausted so I basically slept the whole day and started cleaning my room and getting ready to switc host families. I am amazed at the amount of stuff i have accumulated through 7 months, it has been quite the hassle trying to get everything organized but j'arrive. As of now I am planning to switch this Sunday but since my dad comes to Visit in Thursday and leaves on Monday they said I could wait untill after he leaves to switch. Which brings up the fact that MY DAD IS COMING THURSDAY ( so excitied to see you dad ) !!! Im taking a bus to pick him up Thursday afternoon and it will be cool to show him around and stuff, although it will be strange to have a piece of home here in France because I have my life in the states and my life here so separated in my head. Yesterday marked my 7 month anniversary in France...yyooowzaa but i am enjoying these months and wouldn't nessecarily choose to go back to day one if I had the choice mostley becasue now I have friends, I speak French and overall I have a life that I didn't have when I first arrived here. I wish everyone a happy spring and will see most of you in 3 short months....
Much love
-Hannah <3

Burried Oskar in the beach :D
Beautiful sunset in the Cap d'Antibes while I was running
I <3 you all- Beach in Cannes
Nessie: my crazy little phycho doggie Im gonna miss you baby!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

And then there were four...

Salut a tous!

Today is March 12, 2011. I have been in France for almost 6 1/2 months. Time has gone by faster than I could have ever imagined and now I find myself with only 4 months left in France. The notion of leaving is slowly starting to creep its way into my thoughts and as I look around at this life I've grown so accustomed to it scares me in 4 months it will be gone. On January 2, 2011 I switched host families. The switch has been amazing; I now live in centre ville Antibes. I live within a 5 minutes’ walk of the high school and am now so much closer to all my friends and cafes. Now that I can walk home at night I no longer have to be home by 8 when the buses stop. From the first day I switched I’ve felt really comfortable in this house and it will be hard to move again in 3 weeks. But, I am going to try to embrace the change. So, as I've probably mentioned before the French have way more school vacations then in the US and I am currently enjoying the last 2 days of my 3 WEEK VACATION, yes that is correct... 3 weeks off. No specific reason- no holidays, just a nice break from school. Last night my parents had a dinner party and that was one of the topic we were discussing; the differences between life here and in the US. I said I thought teenagers here had more freedom then teenagers in America and also that we had significantly more breaks then in the US. Although by now I am getting used to people asking me what I like better here than I do in the US it’s still hard for me to put into words how I feel about the 2 countries. Last night one guy asked "C'est quoi le pays que tu trouve les gens vivent la plus belle vie?" which basically translates to "In what country do you think the people have the better life?" I honestly couldn't answer him I kept on repeating that there are better and worse things about each country and I could never choose between the US or France. I t was difficult after a while to try to explain myself especially in French. I have a love hate relationship with this language. Sometime I feel so comfortable speaking it and other times I hate that I can't express myself freely and get embarrassed when I obviously botch a sentence. Most of the homesickness a that I’ve felt here has rooted from the language barrier and it has been without a doubt the hardest challenge for me here but I am really happy and proud of the progress I've made since the beginning. I love France more than I ever thought I would and know that I will most defiantly be back for an extended period but this year has also taught me to love and appreciate my life at home even more. I don't know if I’ll ever feel 100% at home in either country. Getting back to my explanation of my break. During this said break to prevent myself from the almost given boredom that comes with 21 days of no schedules I’ve started to take advantage of the public transit system and have been making daily adventures with my friends around nearby cities. I still can't get over the fact the a 10 min train ride brings be to Cannes- 20 min to Nice- 1/2 hour to Grasse- 1hour to Aix-on Provence. My French friends like coming with me because they say they never really think to visit the places around them because they are so used to it and of course I love going and discovering things with the other exchange students Last week I went to Vieux Cannes with Alex and we somehow stumbled upon and old art school and walked in to see what it was about. We explained to the people in charge that we were American studying in Antibes for the year and they were really interested and showed us around the school and the ceramics teacher let us take part of her class and make little clay bowls for the day. We got to watch her take all the ceramics out of an old kiln and all the other students showed us with pride to all of their previous works. After we finished our bowls the teacher offered to fire them for us and told us to come back in 2 weeks- she was such a sweet lady. I remember standing on the balcony of the school where the kiln's were located, looking out over all of Cannes and the medditeranien and I had a moment where I was just like "How did I end up here?" It was such a great day and I was shocked at how welcome and open the people were there. In the beginning of the year I thought the French weren't as open as Americans but know I realize that if you make an effort to be interested in what they are doing and make an effort to talk to them first they are some of the most welcoming people you'll ever meet. But, I also think that mentality can be applied to anyone on this earth. I feel so blessed to be here and although it's definitely not easy all the time this year has defiantly been one of the best years of my life0 it has taught me more about myself than I would have imagined. The next 3 and a half months are going to be so quickly I know it. My dad comes to visit me the first weekend of April then out district Rotary conference is the next weekend and I switch into my final host family on April 3. On April 15 I head off to Paris to start the EUROTOURR for 2 weeks and then my mom comes to visit me the first week of May and then I head home on July 3, 2011. France has become a part of who I am and I know that when I say my goodbye's at the airport they won’t be forever- I know I’ll be back in France but I know that when I do everything will be different- maybe not worse just different. I hope everyone is doing well and wish everyone a happy spring!