I've written and rewritten this blog entry so many times in the last two weeks or so, but each time I rewrite it, it becomes harder and harder to put everything I want to say down on this blank computer scene. Like the hydra of Greek myth, I've got to stop cutting this thing to ribbons so I've told myself this is the LAST DRAFT. Game over man.
Tyler's Random Pre-blog Thought: Back in Florida, in History class, we studied what holidays were celebrated in Europe and Russia in the winter and why it was mostly in winter that celebrations had been popular over the summer and spring months. It means that we get to go on more trips to the bigger cities and have more parties, but it has been very dismal and grey the last few weeks (with the start of fall) and I demand England stop giving us their clouds!
This exchange has been incredible and I can't get over how it is actually happening. I'm living in a town that, to me, is straight out of a story book (then you notice the green flashing signs for the pharmacy). This town is older than most of the cities back home in the States and the house I'm living in my right now is older than probably everything in Clermont (not counting lakes and such). It is so unbelievably astounding, but the most interesting thing is how accustomed I've become to my life here. I go through my day's routine without ever giving it a second thought that I'm in a foreign country, speaking a foreign language, and taking second language English courses (well, not that last one, I requested to be switched into more classes focusing on French language). I like to sometimes just stop doing whatever normal thing I'm doing (like crossing the river), stand still, and breathe. It somehow just... Enhances everything.
My first family (who I'll be with until early January if everything goes as planned) lives just off the city center in a medium sized village (about the size of a small town like Groveland if you're from Lake county) and we walk to most places, which is probably why I'm losing weight unlike some of the other people who take buses and cars to places like the grocery store, school, etc. This house is over 200 years old and I live in the attic space. My host family is absolutely amazing. My host parents are always asking me if I'd like to go with them to someplace like the grocery store or to buy 500 pairs of sports socks. I almost always say yes because the more time you're out of the house, the better your language skills get. My oldest host brother is currently rebounded from Finland and we talk a lot about how my exchange is going because he's already been through all this. The middle brother is always asking if I'd like to play whatever game he's currently playing on his PC (currently, it's Age of Empires III, you'd be surprised how much playing games completely in French helps your vocabulary). The youngest does what the middle brother does, but much more frequently and is probably the best out of the three at miming words to help me understand them. He's also a little bit of a butt when I don't want to play games with him.
School is much more different than high school back in the states. If you've taken any college classes, it's more like that and at the college level it's like high school back in the states (if that makes any sense). Your schedule is different each day and you can take a larger variety of classes, but you have to choose a 'class' to go into: Science, Economic Science, or Literature. They gave me Literature because I said that I liked history and literature, but it also has more French classes, so that's a double win. I've made some pretty cool friends since I've been at school, Rudy and Anna (French and German pen pals who visit one another's homes every couple months for a a couple months), Cyril, Pierre, Sylvin, and Caleb (my awesome nerd friends who I try to talk about video games with), Tucdual (he's the same age as me and we talk about music and hang around when we're not in class) and many, many other people, including my host brothers' friends.
The Rotary has been extremely welcoming, accommodating, and many other positive 'ing' words. We've met as a district twice and each time most everything went great and I got to my host club's meetings as often as I can, but they don't really have them that often because they're cancelled for holidays or moved to be a charity event on the weekend (like two weekends ago, we had this great event for building the Rotary presence in Vietnam and helping with the construction of schools there). The Rotarians here (and back home) have been very helpful and friendly.
I've been in France for almost two months now and it has definitely had its ups and downs just like the Rotarians and Rotex stated. Honestly, I didn't think it would happen. When I was initially feeling sad or alone, I just dismissed it as being tired or just being an off day, then it lasted a week. I talked more with my Rotary, hung out with my new friends and stopped getting on Facebook and, guess what, just like how Rotary said, I got better. Now I'm talking with my host family more regularly (when I'm not trying to get these blog posts right) and enjoying the heck out of this exchange so far. Now, I've got to pack my bags for our family trip to Paris, until next time.