Lily Britt
2010-11 Outbound to France

Hometown: Tamarac, Florida
School: Pompano Beach High School
Sponsor: Davie-Cooper City Rotary Club, District 6990, Florida
Host: Croix Wasquehal Rotary Club, District 1670, France

Lily's Bio

I remember at the beginning of this school year all I focused on was making good grades and planning out the classes I’d take for the next 2 years ahead of me. Then, I went to my school’s auditorium for some guests a few months into the year; little did I know that it was Rotary Youth Exchange telling the students about staying in a foreign country for 11 months. I was so ecstatic from the information they were telling my friend and I, that after the presentation we went down to talk with Bob White and Roy Joseph for about a half hour. I knew after I talked to them my life’s outlook was already changing.

My name is Lily Britt, and I’m a sophomore at Pompano Beach High School in Pompano Beach, Florida. I love my life here in sunny Florida, but am so ready for a change! Right now, my current hobbies include the Swim and Track team, and also I’m involved in the Drama club- Vice President of, French club, and Culinary Arts club- founded and president of; which I’m thrilled to go to France to taste exquisite dishes. I love socializing, meeting new people, and trying new things is a bit of a habit of mine. I’d like to describe myself as outgoing, outspoken, and a free spirit.

Traveling is what I love above all things. I love seeing how people live their lives differently then me, but how normal it is for them. My whole family loves it also, whether it is in the country or outside the country, we try to travel as often as possible. My mom says I first boarded a plane when I was three weeks old; of course I can’t remember, but she said “…we went to New York for your baptism”. Outside of America I traveled to Jamaica, Aruba, Cayman Islands, Mexico, The Bahamas, and Ireland….FRANCE will be my eighth foreign destination and for the longest amount of time!

My family and friends are very important to me. I have three dogs, love all of them with all my heart, also I have an older sister Kellee; 17 years old, and next year she is going to college. So while she is in college and I’m in France my mom and dad will be missing us terribly…what will they do without us??? My friends all are sad that I’m leaving them for a year, but I keep telling them that I will be back senior year! Basically my friends and I go to the movies, bowl, run, shop, go to the beach, boating, and sleepover each other’s houses, etc.

I still can not believe I have been selected into this fantastic program, and have been chosen to spend a year in France; this is surreal! I have to thank Rotary for everything they have done for me, and will be doing for me in the future. You guys are the greatest! Everything that has led up to this moment has been worth it, but I also have to thank my parents. My mom has about the same enthusiasm as me, and has helped me greatly through this long enduring process. My dad has been supportive for me, and says “as long as you’re happy, so am I”.

Lily's Journals

August 30

Bonjour!

The moment I have dreamt about had finally come, to write my first journal entry! I am staying in northern France; Villeneuve d’Ascq and it is absolutely extraordinary, I love it here and I have only been here a week. The people are amazing, the scenery is exquisite, and the language is very different!

When I arrived at Charles de Gaul airport it was Thursday at 7 a.m., and I left Florida on Wednesday  at 9 a.m. …needless to say I pulled an all nighter ( not including the 3 hours I slept on the on plane). BUT I was way to excited to be tired when I arrived in France! I mean its FRANCE! Once we got off the plane it was a little crazy, but I got my luggage and found my family! We went “home” and it’s the cutest house, I loved it instantaneously.

My family is amazing and very patient. My host mom; Patricia is the most welcoming person I have ever met, I love her already. My host dad; Christophe is so funny! Although, I can’t understand him yet, his facial expressions tell me everything! And my host sister; Arielle is 18 years old and is so sweet! She has introduced me to her friends. Fiona, her twin is in Sweden on exchange and their son Remi is 23 and has his own place studying to be a lawyer. My family and I are moving to Lille on September 30th because they thought it was time for a bigger home, but wherever I am its beautiful! I had my first “French” breakfast that morning, yummy baguette and cheese! That night I met Arielle’s friends and had my first “French” dinner! …The food here is amazing!

Next day I went to the mall in Villeneuve d’Ascq, bought a French phasebook, and there was a market in the mall; so we grocery shopped as well. In the seafood section there were whole fish on the ice in front of you, tons of oysters in buckets, etc- so different! The food we ate that night was delicious; of course. The days are already blurring together from doing so much! For lunch the next day, was by far my favorite… so far. It was chicken with like a milky sauce and a mixture of mashed potatoes and scalloped potatoes- I call cheesed mashed potatoes! Mouthwatering…Then Emma came over (another exchange student from Finland though) And Arielle, Emma, and I all went to Lille, got our metro cards for school and went into the city. We saw old Lille and new Lille, our tourist guide being Arielle. Loved the boutiques!  Later went to Remi’s apartment and I met his beautiful finance, and had dinner. The following day went to the Lille outlet with Arielle and Patricia and it had very good prices, I bought a few “French” clothes!

On Sunday I met my district and the people in it at a rope climbing range. I loved meeting everyone, plus I saw that I was not the only one struggling with the French language! We climbed trees the rest of the day. I climbed with Emma, but also with Annex from Sweden and Alexa from Ohio! Such an exciting day- first we all practiced on a baby course then Emma, Annex, and I went on the red course-second hardest course(we didn’t know), but we loved it! Then Emma, Alexa, and I went on the black course- hardest! SO MUCH FUN! My district is awesome.

Everyday has been a new experience, trying new food, meeting new people, and doing new things! This is still so surreal!

October 17

Salut!

Wow. I don’t even know where to begin! I have done so so much! I have been here for a little less than 2 months now and it feels like it’s gone by way too fast!

I’m attending a High school in Lille called Saint Paul, and it’s awesome. They love exchange students and have had them so much that they have a “French for foreigners” class; and I notice my French is improving! I’m taking that class with 4 other students; Vedha from India, Valentina from Chili, Marcelo from Brazil, and Leah from Oregon; we have fun. When I came here I basically only knew how to say the basic sayings to get around, but I knew grammar from being in French III. But speaking, and knowing some grammar is a whole different world!

I have taken up some hobbies here like learning the guitar, and doing ballet. I love both, and have wanted to do them in Florida! I’m so glad I’m trying new things; which was a goal of mine. Plus, through doing these activities I’ve meet some really awesome people. Emma from Finland and I love to just go to Lille and walk around, and shop etc. At school is where I have met my closest French friends that I already love and we just hang out; shopping, sleepover, go to the cinema, etc. I’ve also made friends with everyone in my class; it’s not difficult for me but you definitely can’t be shy! My class at school is so funny, and I get stay with them all year- different from my school in Florida where we switched half way; so I’m happy I got such a welcoming French class!

Now whoever came up with the stereotype that the French dislike Americans, I’m here to say its wrong! Almost everyone loves America here; and if they don’t like America you can count on me to change their minds! Everyone has asked me tons of questions- which is pretty funny and entertaining for me! For example, I get asked a lot “Do you go to the beach like every weekend since you live in Florida?” or “Do you go to Disneyland a lot??”  Also, I can’t get over how much American culture has traveled over here. Our music, TV, movies, fashion, etc it’s so amazing to see it and experience it!

On September 29th we moved to the new house! It was an exciting experience for me figuring I only moved when I was about 4 and couldn’t remember anything. So moving was cool, and a lot of work! We are still moving things around getting settled in. The new house is gorgeous and I’m so glad I was a part of their experience in moving.

In one word I would describe the food here as spectacular. The cheeses, the mousse au chocolate, the French fries, the bread, and basically everything else is mouthwatering and impossible to say no too. Sooo let’s just say I’m really immersed into the culture, food aspect wise! Also I made my family here my dad’s famous meatloaf, giving them an American meal and it was good, but it just wasn’t as good as how my father makes it.

New Things I’ve tried: Shrimp, Muscles, Duck, and tried everything chocolate, etc

New things I’ve done: Fist time on a motorcycle, moved houses, taken the metro and bus to school, and actually learning guitar and ballet, etc

And I’m sure these lists we grow!

Also I’m learning this new thing called gaining weight : )

I’ve met my second and third families and their amazing; I’m so blessed to have such an amazing year planned and with such amazing people. With my host family now- The Dzialak family, I will be traveling to London on October 25th for the duration of one day! Which I’m super excited to go sightseeing and do all the touristy stuff; Big Ben! And in early December I will be going to PARIS! Super excited for both!

Recently I just traveled with my District and met with a few others then traveled to Normandy, and after meet with other districts in Mont Saint Michle. It was gorgeous, and I loved seeing the beaches! Plus, I saw and hung out with the other two Floridian exchange students Leland Henry and Tyler Osteen; such an awesome surprise! I have about two hundred pictures…just from that weekend. I feel like such a tourist here all the time but I love it! And let’s just say I’ve taken a lot of pictures so far : )

Well time is just flying by, but none is going unappreciated. Every day, every minute I feel so lucky to be here for a year. Of course the feeling of missing comfort and family comes, but now I have comfort and a family here also.

Au revoir pour maintenant!

Always,

Lily

November 27

Three months exactly, that’s how long I’ve been here. The day is already here with too many memories to count … Making lifelong friends, speaking French, attending French school, riding the metro and bus, living with my incredible host family, seeing the seasons actually change, making “American breakfasts”, getting homesick, shopping like there is no tomorrow, learning guitar, dancing, eating the most indescribable delectable foods, traveling from London to Paris to Belgium, and just being an exchange student. No one can describe to you what this is like, what this emotion is; for me learning French in France for one year. The only way to have these memories and emotions is by doing a year abroad. I’m not even half way through my year yet I feel I have changed so much. And I feel like the roller coaster is in effect.

This past month has been traveling, which I’ve loved! I went to London. Amazing. The night before my host parents, and my host mom’s best friend’s family stayed at this old beautiful house in Boulogne- Sur- Mer; Northern Lille. The following morning we took the English Channel and site saw all day! Walked about 7 miles that day? Just estimating; visiting Big Ben, The London eye, walked along the River Thames, American Embassy, Double Decker buses, and Buckingham Palace. Everything was spectacular, and when they talked in their accents it just about made my life; cutest thing ever! Next was Belgium. I’ve gone there twice, but both times were right on the boarder and for shopping. Which I loved! Belgium does have the best chocolate…no one is lying. GO EAT BELGIUM Chocolate and waffles it might just make your life. Also I will be going to Brussels shortly! Paris about a week later! It was breathtaking. Although, all day it was raining and had hurricane winds at times, it was so exciting. Instead of taking the bus or climbing the Eiffel tower because of the weather, I got a special tour by my host parents seeing everything from Montmartre (painters) to the Notre Dame to Musée du Louvre to Arc de Triomphe to American Embassy to Avenue Montaigne (most expensive shopping street in Paris), and back to the Eiffel tower. Very memorable first time in Paris, but definitely not the last! I’m actually returning on December 4th with my Rotary district!

In my town though, I have done bowling with my Rotary district, gone to a swimming pool with Emma! SO different! Gone to art expeditions, experienced strikes for the buses and metros, seeing movies (in English with French subtitles), seen French plays, gone to markets, found an English book store! And eaten about a 100 crepes. Time is flying! Also doing so many things is very tiring! My language capability is improving all the time, there are those days that I mess up every sentence when speaking French, but then comes the days I have half an hour conversations just talking in French without major grammar problems. I have learned though I cannot compare myself with other exchange students. We all are having different experiences and if they pick up the language faster or slower than me that’s them, we will all learn our language by the time this year is finished.

School is very different here, definitely more formal to say the least. With the teachers, with how you dress, and just overall presenting yourself. Teachers are really really respected here, for class we stay in the same room all day while the teachers switch classrooms, and when they enter the room all the students must stand up and then the teacher can tell us when to sit. Dressing is everything here. School is a place where you should be dressed nice, but here it’s like a rule. Guys where collared shirts with sweaters over them, pants with belts, while the girls are a little more fancy with boot heals, fur coats, and hand bags used as back packs. Comparing that to Florida schooling where you are friends with your teachers and you wear sweat pants to school; VERY different. School though is really fun here- at times- when we just have breaks or mini ones everyone is really sweet to me and so curious about

America. I now have great friends all over my school, and I always feel like people are like “Oh, that’s the American!” It’s very amusing.

Now homesickness does happen. To tell you the truth I thought I really wouldn’t be affected by it, I mean I knew I’d miss my family and friends but not majorly. It may happen in the beginning of an exchange or not even until the end, but for me it was just a little before three months into my exchange, and it hit me hard. It was one of just those days where I was struggling with French and how it’s difficult to express everything you feel in a foreign language, it lasted for about a week, happy one minute sad another. It’s over for the time being, but only after long Skype conversations with Carleigh McFarlane in Hungary and my parents back home I knew everything would be ok and I’m not the only one that has felt like this.

The weather here is incredible here, I loved experiencing autumn and seeing the tree’s leaves change color, then changing to winter which comes with the freezing temperature. And get this, seeing it SNOW! The first day it snowed was on Thanksgiving Day and all I remember is that I was jumping, twirling, dancing, and just felt like the most carefree person at that moment in these snowflakes that poured from the dark night sky with 6 other exchange students doing the same. But now… here come the big coats, and comfy boots!

Life in my town Villeneuve d’Ascq is starting to feel normal, I don’t even know how to describe how this makes me feel. My host family has become more than just simply a host family. And every day I start to feel more and more like I belong here, like I actually live here. And those feelings, that are so difficult to explain, are the best feelings in this entire world.

 January 16

Four months or five months? I’m losing track of time, everything is going by way too fast! It’s literally my half way mark, and that makes me think about the end of this exchange, which makes me sad, but yet happy. Sad for leaving my life here, but yet so happy for my progress with French! So much has changed since my last journal, where to begin?

Went to Paris with my rotary district here around early December! Visited Arc de Triumph and climbed up it, walked along Champs Elysees Avenue, saw the Tour de Eiffel, and shopped along the Boulevard Haussmann Avenue. We only have one boy in our district with about 12 girls…let’s just say we all loved the shopping! Buying mainly touristy things, figuring we were walking along, and shopping in the most expensive stores in Paris. Not to mention Paris’s amazing decorations, and lights, they were really spectacular! And when we were in Paris something that was absolutely necessary, was that we the “Americans” all needed our starbucks coffee, so we all bought grande fraps, and cappuccinos! YUM.

Christmas was spectacular! The city Lille was like a dream, the snow, the Christmas market, the lights, the Christmas trees, the big Ferris wheel, chestnuts roasting on the open fire, and the music. My personal Christmas experience was so different! We opened our presents at night and my 23 year old host brother came over with his fiancé, and we opened presents together. On Christmas day it felt kind of like our celebration of Thanksgiving, where we eat all day and spend time with your family. In Florida, my family and I open the presents Christmas morning and the night before we’d watch the Christmas story movie or maybe we’d play a game. But this experience was amazing and I wasn’t even homesick then, which surprised me a lot. Then two days later on December 27th I changed to my second my host family!

What a nervous, scary, most unpredictable, amazing feeling that is; switching families! My second family lives in a town called Saunghin-en-melantois. Yeah…that’s a mouthful! But I love it here! My two host families live in completely different places, the first closer to the city, and the second more in the country. They are both so different, and yet I love them both! I have two host sisters; Alix who’s 19 years old, and Julliet who’s 16 years old. Love them both, but it was really hard for me adjusting to another family after I had already done that with my first host family, but adjusting from my family in Florida. So as a result I got homesick, and I’m not going to lie it got really hard at times. I was then missing both my family, and my first host family. BUT, now I’m used to my second family, I know them better, and I’m really excited to experience my next 3 months with them! Also, on February 19-26 we are going skiing, during the first week of our next school’s vacation, in the south of France; the Alps! Super happy for that!

HAPPY NEW YEARS! Had an amazing time at a party with my rotary friends! We ate, we laughed, and in the end we all counted down from 20-1 in French, and BAM it was the New Year! We hugged and bisous every person there- just another memory to store into my file of France.

All of Christmas, New years, changing families, was within my two week vacation from school. But I did much more! Like doing shopping in Lille, hanging out with exchange students, snowball fights, ice skating, hanging out with host sisters and their friends, and just having fun. Since, I live more in the country now I have decided to stop ballet, and try horseback riding! I will although, continue with guitar! I just started horseback riding and I love it! I’d never before been on a horse, but I wasn’t scared and I didn’t expect my horse to be so calm and patient.

Food will always be discussed in my blogs, and I have a lot to report on that like the new things I’ve eaten! SO. I ate duck, which I’d tried a little before, but I actually ate a lot this time….and I liked it, but I won’t chose to eat it any time soon. For Christmas here, it’s nice to have rare meat, to show that it is a special day, which makes sense, right? Well, for Christmas I ate ostrich. Yes the big birds, that are in zoos, had an interesting taste…. And oh! This type of meat is very popular in the north of France! It’s called foie gras, which is also duck, but its liver…. it’s also an interesting taste. Also FROG LEGS! I ate them! Well…had two nibbles, was really nerve racking, yet weird at the same time. I feel like I will be trying a lot while I’m here! And daily, eating those delicious pastries, nutella, crepes, mousse au chocolate, crème du chocolate, and a lot more!

Looking back on already the best memories of my life, I’m scared to go back to Florida and maybe to find that my “home” in my mind has maybe moved to France. And that I’d want to talk in French, but couldn’t. Or I’d want a fresh baguette from the bakery nearby, but realizing I can’t have that. Or miss my French friends and rotary friends that have been there for me, when I needed someone to lean on. The weather, the people, the transportation, the liveliness, the fashion..all of it will be gone. BUT, after realizing all of that I’ve become happy also. I’m here for 5 more months! They’ll be just as amazing if not more, and of course I’d come back for visits, education, or living here. This beautiful part of North France, Le Nord de Calais, has become my second home.

Always,

Lily

March 21

Writing down 2 months is even harder then it seems! So much has happened with me here in France before and during the 2 weeks of spring vacation, and a week of some of my family visiting me in France. France has been amazing through that, the weather now has been gorgeous in Northern France, VERY RARE and everything now is flying by!

The month of February mainly included me getting accustomed to my second host family, and they are amazing! They are so kind, and I’ve had so much fun with them! My host mom Catherine is a CEO of a store in France called Rouge Gorge (like a smaller Victoria Secrets), and my host dad Damien is a CEO of an insurance company called Vauban Humanis, working in Paris during the week (Damien Vandrope-you can google him!!!). SO my host parents, as you see are busy, and have very demanding jobs, so skiing without any work connections was a blast!

Skiing in the Alps for a week at a station- The Orres was absolutely a dream; the scenery, their house in the south, and getting to know my second host family that much better was really indescribable. We arrived on a Saturday night, and the following day started skiing- I was so hyped until I remembered a year ago I only practiced snowboarding…and on Sunday the first day of skiing I forgot how to stop or steer my skies. As a result, my host parents and I agreed that I take the Ski classes 1. Learning fast, and remembering those years of skiing in the past I got bumped up to Class 2! It was harder, but I still wanted a challenge so got bumped up to Class 3! Received my troisieme etoile (third star- takes years normally), and felt accomplished!

I took the classes in the mornings and in the afternoons skied with my host family! They were all amazing after doing it their whole lives, so they were my motivation to step it up. The last two days, skied with my host sisters and their cousin like speed demons! I liked going down the red and black slopes- hardest!!! During the drive down to the south (10hrs) my host dad told me all you do in the Alps are ski, eat, and sleep. I didn’t believe him- but that’s literally all you have energy for and all you want to do because you are so exhausted- plus is was like going back to the basics with no internet or television; wrote about 50 postcards! My all time favorite part though, was at the tippity top of the Alps on the hardest slopes, the view…was to die for. A photo can only explain so much, and then the sensation of going down the beautiful slopes, DEFINITELY going back there!

My second week of vacation, was basically relaxing, hanging out with friends, shopping, and sleepovers! But what I was really waiting for was my family! My mom, my aunt, my sister, my cousin, and Julia at our house now form Brazil! They came Sunday March 6th- Saturday March 12th. Welcoming them here in Lille at their hotel, because I couldn’t go to Belgium (out of my district), there were some tears seeing everyone, but definitely tears of joy. Sunday we had a brunch at my second family’s host house with my first host family, and my host sister’s friend! There were 14 people, which made it so fun. We talked about me first coming here, knowing basically no French and how now I speak fluently and am always improving. Then, talking about my funniest moments when I arrived, my accent, etc. It was great seeing all of them together, the people I love in my life meeting people that are now held so close to my heart.

Monday we went to Paris! Renting a car for a week was very practical, but hard work with navigating through the big city Paris. We actually got detoured for about an hour or so…but at least we saw all over Paris! The weather was amazing that day, not one cloud in the sky! We finally found the Eiffel tower and climbed up to the first level after eating lunch at a cute nearby café. Afterwards drove around the Arc de Triumph 20 times finally landing on the Champs Elysées street, parked, and did a little shopping. It was a great way to end the day! Tuesday showed them my city Lille, had breakfast at my favorite café showed them my favorite stores, shopped, and just had a girl’s day- Me having a rotary dinner that night! Wednesday brought them to a fresh food outside market, showed them my school- they met some of my friends, and then introduced them to my exchange district! My mom and Aunt had left and then it was just us teenagers seeing Lille and walking around- that night showing my sister, my cousin, Julia, Jordan and Rachel (friends) a night out in Lille! Thursday we went to the beach!!! The cap-gris nez…was not hot or sunny BUT beautiful anyway with the strong winds, and had a concert that night; KID KOWALA. Friday was Bruxelles, Belgium! It was the first time I’d gone there as well, and it was gorgeous. Walking around the city, seeing Grand Palace and shopping was a relaxing beautiful day. Saturday morning was their plane, really hard time for me and my mom- VERY HARD saying goodbye for a second time. I didn’t want any of them going, but especially my mom and sister. I miss them all the time, but I know I’ll see them again!

A week later, I still miss them like crazy! But I’m enjoying my last 2 and half months left! School was really fun going back, everyone knew my family had come, and my skiing trip, etc. Now, going back into routine school, guitar, horseback riding, etc.…EXCEPT that this Sunday I change host families!!! On to my third host family; I can’t even believe it, went by super fast! I’ll miss my second one a lot, but I’m also embracing the change too. I knew I’d change so it’ll be fine.. just the packing again- definitely has gotten harder with everything I’ve accumulated over 7 months, especially all the clothes and shoes I’ve bought!

Doing this exchange, I feel, really makes you appreciate what you had in your life before. I never took into account that I was lucky for so many things, topping it off with going to a foreign country for a year, realizing that now makes me miss home even more in a way. Although, France has definitely become my second home or even could become my home in the future, with too many memories to count, too many friends to ever leave, too much urge to speak French.. even my real family…I want to stay here longer then only two and a half months and keep living my dream.

Always,

Lily

It’s weird saying I only have a month left…when in a way it seems like I just arrived in France! That can give an example of how time really does fly on exchange. I think it’s because we always have fun things or events planned, and when you do something fun, time isn’t even looked at. Before my 12 day Euro Tour that just passed- no words to describe how amazing it was, I moved in with my third host family and well I’ve really lucked out with families because I love them too! I’ve been to the Beach and an Aquarium with my district in France- eventful, with my first host family voyaged to Tours (city on the centralwest of France surrounded by castles which are breathtaking), A fashion show, Lille Muséum of Art, a Concert, Hanging out with friends, all up until my Euro Tour on April 15-26 

6 countries. 12 days. Paris, France. Strasburg, France. Munich, Germany. Innsbruck, Austria. Verona, Florence, Venice, Italy. Monaco. Lyon, France. Geneva, Switzerland. Dijon, France. Lifetime experience. Eating the best food, making MORE lifelong friends, seeing some of the most beautiful spots in the world, it’s as if it was magical. The most magical for me being Venice. Extraordinary. Perfect day with sun everywhere, no cars allowed in Venice, small stores everywhere, history everywhere, to die for tortellini, everything!

FACTS on bus trips

Italy does make the most delicious pizza, you could just die.

Europeans bike everywhere, besides the French.

Everywhere is a tourist trap, where you want to spend money.

Pictures are taken everywhere, even in places where there isn’t significance…its European!

Men are very good looking in ITALY.

Fondue is best in Switzerland.

You sleep your nights on the bus in the day, and live your day in the night.

Crying is guaranteed at the end of the trip…

And you want to do it all over again. Not just the trip. But your year.

There are way too many memories to count from my bus trip, knowing that I had the time of my life should give a hint. I went with my best friends in France, Rachel Scramstad, and Katie Head becoming even closer and meeting our newsiest best friend Kelcie Wildeman, and many more friends! It was the feeling I had when my mom left with my family…so much sadness. Within those 12 days we’d gotten so close, and I miss them like crazy, BUT it was time to come back.

My 3rd host family is so great, nice, funny, and VERY different from my others. Meaning that in my first host family I had a host sister and in my second I had 2 host sisters well in this family I have 4 host BROTHERS! Figuring that I only have a sister in FL, it’s been a whole other experience within itself. Oldest being 18- Victor, then 16- Louis, then 14- Paul, and the youngest being 12- Arthur. Although Victor isn’t here during the week, studying in a dorm at college it’s pretty funny all the time. Things that are different are they eat a lot, and for me to say that says something! To say they like play station is an understatement. They’re hilarious without trying. And overall just cutie pies! I have a dog, Balto; he’s awesome and is a black Labrador who is ADORABLE and makes me miss my dogs even more. I love running with him by the lake near my house, especially now that there is beautiful weather all the time!

My mom and dad are coming on the 12th of May staying until the 15th, just for the weekend! I was happy that my mom and everyone came, but my dad didn’t get to come so at least this way he sees how I live, speak, etc and how I’ve changed.

Also I’m really excited! On May 29th my host family and I, and their family are all going horse backing riding on the beach! I guess those classes I took when I was at my second host family will come in handy.

Thinking to myself that I’ve been abroad for 8 months already astounds me. I’ve worked through language barriers, stereotypes, every awkward situation you can imagine, and through a lot of obstacles I’ve changed as a person. I think I’ve changed for the best, I’m more secure of who I am, and I just have more self confidence then I ever did in FL. I still have one month left plus 5 days! And I’m taking advantage of every hour, minute, and second.

June 8

I swear I could be dreaming right now. My last blog in France, 1 day until I’m home, packing up the last time- but not to switch host families but to GO home. But…I know I’m not dreaming and that this is reality. My dream of living in France had come true, and now my nightmare of leaving France will also become true. I don’t know if I can ever explain how I feel right now, and I don’t even think the other foreign exchange students understand…everyone’s year was completely different. Sure we could relate with host family stories, new foods we’ve tried, language barriers, but what about everything else we experienced on our own? We grew independent though the things we did, we changed with the people we met, and we went where we could with the time we had. And emotionally was the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced.

My last few months have been amazing, like my whole year. My mom, dad, and sister came! May 12-16th, it was great. Typical family situations which seemed foreign to me after not really experiencing them; getting lost in the car, mom taking pictures of you non-stop, touristy activities, etc. Stayed in my city Lille with them- 3 days; 2 nights, then went to Bruges in Belgium- day trip, and after Paris- 2 days; 1 night. Really fun showing them, it was my dad’s first time in France SO I was more than happy to show them around ! We all went shopping in Lille, then visited Bruges, finishing in Paris by taking a boat around Paris and taking a million more pictures of the Eiffel tower.

Enjoying my last month in France with Friends, and Host families has been great. It was my birthday June 3rd so my third host mom hosted me a party- she wanted it to be a surprise..but someone spilled the beans! It was awesome though! My host families are amazing and I’ll always remember everything they did for me. Then celebrating later on my birthday with Rotary friends, and with my host sister! I also went horseback riding close to the beach with my 3rd host family- SO fun!

Leaving June8th is an early date but I have my reasons! Going home for one week, and then off to New York for the summer at a summer camp with my first host sister- doing her type of exchange job, my sister, my cousin, and friends (went to this camp when I was younger for 5 years). I know it’ll be an awesome summer!

SO boy does time FLY! Here is the end. The end of my exchange…the end of my year abroad in France. No more metro rides, no more bus rides, no more crepes, no more speaking French all the time, no more being the only “American” , no more French school…my life here will disappear here. I’ll be remembered and missed, but then life goes on... we all keep living. My exchange in France has been the most amazing year (10 months) in my life, obviously! But the thing is I can’t imagine any other year better than this. My life here had become normal, although I part here sad and longing… I know that I have another life in Florida awaiting me, with friends, work, and well a future. But, as I look into my future I see college and friends but I also see France. I know for sure that I will return, who knows maybe on another exchange in college…who knows, maybe living here for a while? Although that might sound crazy or farfetched. That’s what I see and want. Knowing that France is my second home, who knows what the future awaits for us.

Au revoir France….

I love you and will return

Je t’aime et je vais revenir

Thank you so much Rotary, my district directors (love you Roy), this adventure meant the world to me..... I can't thank you enough!

Every minute was more than appreciated.