August 20 Pre-departure Journal
“The only place where dreams are impossible is in your own mind.” By Emalie
Wow, where has all the time gone??? It seems like yesterday that I was filling out the Rotary Youth Exchange 2009-2010 application. Picking my five countries that I wanted to go to (France, Belgium, Spain, Germany, Japan). Going to orientations while making friends, and also making buildings out of marshmallows and spaghetti which was a disaster. Listing to lectures and the helpful advice of the Rotex crew that I look up to for help.
And now I am less than 6 days from the biggest adventure of my life which is…GOING TO FRANCE!!!!!! It still hasn’t hit me yet that I’ll be gone for a year without my family, neighbors or friends. It will truly be test of adaption to survive in another country. I really haven’t even thought about it until lately this month, I’ve just been so wrapped up in actually living “La vie Française” .
Another thing that I have just realized is that on my exchange is that not only will I become fluent in French but I will see snow for the first time (and no I will not eat the yellow snow)! Consider I have NO winter clothes that would save my life under 45 degree weather. And also be on an airplane which I am nervous but excited nonetheless.
And speaking of clothes, never in my life would I imagine packing 100lbs of my life for a year. For me it was sad packing away all of my clothes out of my room. But it’s never goodbye just a very long (11 months to be exact) see you soon.
I will be on the Atlantic Cost in a city called Nantes (the former capital of Brittany/ Bretange), and my first host family will be the Cavés and they seem like a really nice family can I can’t wait to meet them. I have done so….much research on my city and its absolutely beautiful I can’t wait until I’m there!
And I'm also looking forward to eating bucket loads of Nuttela with freshly baked Baguettes. I’m still wondering what will be my first French meal.
Rotary has given me so much that I am thankful for. And with my exchange starting within a few days I will be sure to make them proud. I will serve as the best American ambassador that I can be. It may sound corny but I'm just so excited, nothing can bring me down.
Thank you for reading my 1st journal!! And there will be many more to come!
Merci Beaucop Rotary!! et A bientot!!!
October 1 Journal
Welcome back to the adventures of an American in France! Starring…..ME! Chauncy!
Wow I’ve been in France for a month and a week or two, but it feels like a day. It’s so true that the time goes by so fast. I love it here, the people are very nice and my host family is wonderful “la vie est belle”. Well I’m guessing you want to know what I have been up to so here is the spill.
August 25 2009
So on the day of my departure, I woke up at 5:00 am, well I never really slept which was a big mistake. After I woke up I was making sure that my bags had everything I needed in them. I thought that I was handling everything well. I was very happy but also anxious, it really felt as if my dream was actually coming true. And as I was leaving the house with my bags I said goodbye to my mom, and that was really hard for me, but I didn’t cry. After getting in the car with my brother and my dad, I just was checking for my passport which I didn’t have. So I ran back into the house almost flipping over my desk and got my passport.
At the Airport I checked my bags to see how much they weighed, and it turned out that my bags that weren’t supposed to exceed over 100lbs were 28lbs under. But I was happy considering some people actually went over 100lbs. Needless to say they were girls lol. So after meeting up with other exchangers in the airport we went through security. Since it was my first time going on airplane I found it strange having to take off my shoes. But after that was over, me and the other exchangers had to wait for like 2 hours. We were just happy and talking about how cool our exchangers are going to be and how we couldn’t wait to get in our new home countries.
In the crappy airplane which was taking us from Jacksonville to Washington I was lucky to be able to sit next to the other exchangers. One thing that I have to say is that the term “Ears popping” is just a small part that happens when you’re in a plane. Well for me at least, it felt as if someone was shooting my head through one ear and the other ear was being stabbed with a knife while I had a huge headache. So that was the longest hour and a half in my life.
At the Washington airport I was able to exchange my Rotary pins with people from different states and one from Canada. I ate my last American lunch at Wendy’s and had my last Starbucks which I miss so much since people here just drink coffee plain here. So waiting for the plane some exchanger and I walked around the airport until it was time to board the plane. On the plane I listened to my iPod, watched TV, and followed the map showing where we were. It was interesting - we flew out of Washington, went up the coast of Canada, past Greenland, south of England, and then arrive at l’Aéroport Charles de Gaulle. That was one memory that I will never forget - flying into Paris. And if you're wondering my flight was 7 hours.
August 26 2009
So me and the other exchangers which was half of the plane got off, went to Customs which was sooooooooo cool because all of the signs were in French (it may seem dorky but it's so cool seeing a sign in a different language besides Spanish). I waited about 20 minutes for my bags and then after that I said I met my Rotary President, and we waited about 6 HOURS for other exchange students in our district. And without even having to say I was very tired, and plus we had a 5 hour bus ride to our city, I didn’t get to my host family’s home until 10 pm that night.
My first couple hours with my host family were wonderful. I gave them a map of Florida and showed them where I lived. My first meal was Frosted Flakes and hot chocolate yum! But me being so tired I had to sleep, so I when to bed. The first day in Nantes was great I was able to walk around and see the city. My host family showed me some of the main places that I should see. And that same weekend they took me to their beach house in La Baule which is the biggest beach in Europe.
September 4 2009
My first day of school, I truly believe that school has been the biggest culture shock in my life here in France so far. Where do I even began …the French aren’t welcoming when they meet you. In French schools there are three different types of studies you can pick from. S (Hardcore Sciences and Math), L (Foreign languages and Humanities), and ES (Economy and Languages). I’m in ES. Lunch is an hour and half, on Mondays I don’t leave school til 6pm, but Wednesday–Friday I leave at 12:30. There isn’t any teacher student relationship, no posters or anything on the classroom walls. You have the same group of students with you in mostly all your classes. And I saved the best for last the students. We have 15-20 min breaks every two classes, and mostly all the students go out and smoke right IN FRONT of the school with the TEACHERS. That really shocked me lol.
As of today 2009
France is amazing!!! I love it here, and starting to make friends which is awesome. My Rotary club is the oldest in the city, and so nice to me. My Host family is taking me to the Southwest of France in 3 weeks, and Paris around the Christmas holidays. The French speak very fast. I feel that I'm understanding French better, just not being able to respond as fast.
Odd things I’ve been asked:
Is it true 5 yr olds can buy guns?
Do all American eat at McDonald’s?
Do Americans really eat turkey for Thanksgiving?
Does everyone have a car?
French food serving - Au contraire! The French eat A LOT! I’ve been eating more here than in Florida.
The cups here are like shot glasses.
Bread is served with every meal and is brought everyday!
Crepes are best served hot!
The French truly love food.
There are at least 4 boulangeries on every block.
Merci beaucoup Rotary!
February 3 Journal
Guess who is back??
Since having been titled as the laziest RYE journal writer, I feel that's it’s time to let the people of Florida know how the last 4 months of my life has been.
~There you go~
Where do I even begin? Right now it doesn't feel as if I’m an exchange student anymore. I feel as if this has always been my life, it’s like when someone moves from other city when they are young. You have to deal with changing schools, new house, new friends, all of which I have done, my life feels pretty normal.
I'm feel comfortable speaking French now, it’s improved so...much its almost mind shocking. I remember one time coming home from school - I was on the bus and I could understand most of the conversations being spoken around me on the bus. That may not sound like a big thing (it’s expected when you’re on an exchange to learn a language) but when you’re in a foreign country not fully understand what people are saying around you it’s scary. When you start going to your countries in 5 to 6 MONTHS you will understand what I’m trying to say.
My English level is getting worst. Just to let you know it kind of hard to write this journal right now. It may seem silly, but you tell me if it’s funny when your new English teacher asks you to conjugate a verb when you rarely speak English anymore. But then again from the French point of view Americans speak American not really English.
School is going by much better now than it was at the beginning. I’m starting to become more active in the classes. I actually have French friends now that I thought would never happen. It takes a lot of effort to become their friend. But it’s a wonderful thing have friends of the native land. They take you to places you would never know about, and also save you money showing you the American dollar friendly budget stores.
Here is a recap/highlights of Oct, Nov, Dec, and Jan;
Rotary multi-district meeting at Le Mont st Michel (The second most visited monument in France)
There I saw Bridget and Simone!! We had a great time.
5 Irish and 3 Danish Students came to my school for a week.
The Danish speak Perfect English, and they have an American accent.
Paris and Les châteaux de la loire
About 2 years ago I hosted a teen from Paris, and during the Toussaint Holidays I was able to go visit him for 11 days. Paris is the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen in my life. Les châteaux de la loire was also very interesting.
Master Public Transportation
I became able to go use the buses and Trams and not get lost.
Becomes friends with two amazing Australians
Alex and Tess made school, feel like home.
The last time I wore shorts
Rotary Meeting in Nantes
Seeing my Rotary friends.
y first time seeing snow.
Didn't feel like Christmas.
St. Nazaire (Where they built Queen Mary 2) and La Baule (Biggest beach in France)
Becomes extra bad, speaks English with French grammar.
The American dollar gets a bit better.
Changed Host Families
Instead of having to wake up at 6:30 to go to school I can wake up at 7:30
Weather in France
Finally learns how to stay warm, and always have an umbrella handy.
Saying goodbye to the Aussies
That I’m visiting in December, love you Tess and Alex!
New Australians/ New Zealanders
Officially I’m an Oldie
Feels like home.
Coming soon!! Février
My 19th Birthday
Feb 13-Mar 5 Winter Holidays
Going skiing in the Alps.
P.S. I would like to say to Rotary MERCI DES MILLE FOIS for this wonderful experience that you have allowed me to take part of. And I would like to congrat the new outbounds for next year, they truly don't know how lucky they are until they get here.
à la prochaine fois Chauncy