Carley Dolbow

France

Hometown:Edgewater, Florida
School: New Smyrna Beach High School
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club:New Smyrna Beach, Florida
Host District: District 1520
Host Club: The Rotary Club of St. Pol sur Ternoise

 

My Bio


Salut! My name is Carley Dolbow. I am 16 years old and a sophomore at New Smyrna Beach High School. Also I am the youngest out of 4 children. Living in New Smyrna Beach, the beach is practically my home, so whenever I'm not at school or doing any sports that is where you can find me! At school I'm currently taking all Honors classes, in SGA (student government association) and will be taking dual enrollment classes in spring and summer. To summarize myself up in a couple words would be I'm very adventurous, a people person, very outgoing and not afraid to be myself. I love to meet new people and stepping outside my comfort zone. Growing up I've been around exchange students my whole life! Including watching my older brother Aaron Dolbow's journey to Japan as a Rotary Exchange Student. Being an Exchange student has been a dream of mine since I was in 4th grade and I am more than grateful for being accepted to be one! I am even more thankful to be going to the beautiful country of France! I can't wait to see what the future holds for me within these next 12 months! À bientôt or see you soon! Xoxo, Carley

one of the worlds 7 wonders with my fav new zealander

one of the worlds 7 wonders with my fav new zealander

USA USA

USA USA

Normandy! (i think)

Normandy! (i think)

jumping Americans at Omaha Beach

jumping Americans at Omaha Beach

Normandy memorial

Normandy memorial

another fabulous day in paris!

another fabulous day in paris!

singing the national anthem with 25 other americans!

singing the national anthem with 25 other americans!

greatest district

greatest district

who wants crepes made by international peopleeee

who wants crepes made by international peopleeee

top of paris

top of paris

churros, cocoa, and the city of loveeee

churros, cocoa, and the city of loveeee

almost got hit by a car but it was so worth it

almost got hit by a car but it was so worth it

sippin on some coffee from the top of parisssss

sippin on some coffee from the top of parisssss

"science rulez!" -bill nye the science guy

"science rulez!" -bill nye the science guy

sliding down ice slides in liege

sliding down ice slides in liege

top of notre-dame

top of notre-dame

I love my Finnish

I love my Finnish

Hat: Australian Stickers on my face: French and Brazilian On my back: America. I'm miss universe;)

Hat: Australian Stickers on my face: French and Brazilian On my back: America. I'm miss universe;)

Family #3

Family #3

Vemy Memorial

Vemy Memorial

you know me, always have to strike a pose

you know me, always have to strike a pose

NEWBIES

NEWBIES

Last night with our oldie Matt:(

Last night with our oldie Matt:(

In the trenches:)

In the trenches:)

good thing I have extra 15lbs to keep me warm!

good thing I have extra 15lbs to keep me warm!

AHAHAAH baby slopes for the beginners

AHAHAAH baby slopes for the beginners

6 months with my best friends

6 months with my best friends

my little brothers are the cutest

my little brothers are the cutest

belen my bolivian

belen my bolivian

when am I not smiling in this wonderful country

when am I not smiling in this wonderful country

My view was so beautiful!

My view was so beautiful!

Journals: Carley - France

  • Carley, outbound to France

    And yet another amazing month in this amazing country. I just recently got back from my first skiing trip with my family in Les Houches and I can't describe the amazing-ness of it. From the north of France to the South/east it was an 7 hour drive without traffic...And of course there is always traffic. During those 8/9 hours in the car I really didn't know what to expect. Quiet frankly I was extremely scared. Scared of the possible endless ways that I could break something or end up skiing the wrong direction and going off the tracks and getting lost, or even finding myself on the biggest slope with no way to get down. But it literally turned out the complete opposite.

    The first day arriving it was oftly late, so we didn't ski the first day. So we spent the day renting the skis and trying on the ski boots. NEVER UNDER ESTIMATE SKI BOOTS. The first time trying them on I literally almost broke my foot because I could not get my foot in. And let's not mention the fact of buckling them either. My host parents got me skiing lessons so every morning at 9-11:30 I was with 9 other French/English beginners all older than me, and just as experienced as me. By experienced I mean no experience what so ever. It was so cool how I was able to talk with the French people in French and the English people in English.

    I like to think my skiing a lot like my exchange. At first, it literally seemed impossible to get ahold of. Always making mistakes and falling. So many times feeling like just giving up would be easier. But with each day came massive progression and learning from my mistakes. Everyday watching myself get better and better. Shortly by the end of my week with my family I was skiing like a pro! Not literally a pro, BUT a pro compared to the first day. No doubt I have some pretty gnarly bruises and nearly died 20 times from my falls, but despite it all I really do love skiing!! There was a lot of times I would feel bad because I'm obviously not as advanced as my family so we couldn't do the big slopes together as a family. But the slopes I could do with them was extremely fun.

    The weather wasn't always the best, but when it was sunny out, you could ski to one of the slopes where you can find a little restaurant, and at the restaurant you can find people bathing themselves in the sun with all of their ski gear on. It literally was one of the funniest things ever. With the sun being out, you already know the Florida girl I am, I took that chance and soaked up some rays too! Being the first time I've had a chance since I've arrived but minus the bathing suits. But quiet frankly it was extremely warm, and I never quite found myself to be cold. My tanline right now is extremely cool also. I'm nice and brown (with a little bit on sunburn) on my face. BUT I also have a horrible tanline from my sunglasses and the fact the tan ends at my chin, Making it clearly obvious I have been skiing. How weird is that tho? Being able to get just as tan skiing as going to the beach.

    When skiing and staying in the mountains, the traditional food is cheese and this kind of "sausage" as google translated it as. (note:I know a lot of food/words in French but not English so it makes it hard to distinguish). So everynight consided of something with cheese. IT WAS AAMAAZZZINNNGGGG and literally the greatest cheese that I've ever had in my entire life! The last day of my ski class and before we left was actually a little hard with saying goodbye to my ski teacher and the other people in my ski class. Just thinking that I'll never see them again, and making a genuine friendship with them in such a short amount of time. I found myself slowly starting to make myself at home in the mountains.

    Which is extremely weird to say thus being that I was there for only a week but still. Having such regular routines and people in my life, it started to become a way of life and to leave it was hard. Along with the good-byes on the last day, my family signed us up for this special kind of sledding with 20 other people. It started after the slopes closed, so we had the whole* ski resort to ourselves. The coolest part is we slid from the top of the moutain to the bottom. Taking about 45 mins and a lot of falling, it was definetely something I will never forget. That week is definietly a week I will never forget and will cherish forever. I'm so beyond grateful to of had such a chance!

    This past Saturday marked my 200th day in France! To be completely honest it was a really semi emotional day for me and other exchange students. Time is definetly not on our side and going by way faster than any of us want. I love every exchange student I meet, and not one once of me wants to leave them or this beautiful country I now call my home. To celebrate our 200th day, we had at least 40 exchange students from my district and another district meet up for a picnic in Lille. The whole day was spent with eating, laughing, and of course dancing in public.

    A day with exchange students is always a day well spent. Slowly I see my English getting worse and worse. Whenever someone talks to me in English or asks me something in English I find myself getting lost and literally searching for the words or what I want to say. It's extremely weird and I don't know how to take it! I find myself talking with different accents and not speaking properly. It's just super super weird, but it's a cool weird and I really like it.

    Not to mention this weekend my parents will be arriving!!! When my parents arrive we will be traveling around Europe visiting our former exchange students. So shortly after my parents leave, I will be leaving for my Europe bus trip where I will be traveling around for 12 days and going to 7 different countries! HOW AMAZINNNNNNNNNNG!

    Just one last time, a huge thank you to the Rotary for giving me this beyong amazing oppurtunity and changing my life. This honestly has been the greatest 200 days of my entire life, and I never want it to end.

    bisous,
    Carley


  • Carley, outbound to France

    It's a dream. These last 5 months have been nothing but a dream. A dream that I never want to end. I would rather stay awake than go to sleep because reality is so much better than dreams.

    It's slowly starting to sink in that this dream won't last forever and it kills me. I found my life here in France. I've found myself.

    I wake up every morning just wishing I could go back to the last day because I hate the fact that waking up means another day passed by, and it's another day closer to this beautiful dream ending. This month has marked my half way mark and I honestly was just left speechless. Time has gone by so fast it's not even funny and not fair. In all honesty I don't want to come home. I feel so at home here. As if this is my real home and my home in Florida is just a stranger now. A little dark of me to say but it's so true.

    Life right now is more than I could ever be greatful for. I have the greatest host families literally in the world (as I've said a million times before), I have the best Rotary Club, the greatest district, just everything and everyone here is beyond amazing. Needless to say I love school now. I have an amazing group of friends, my teachers are awesome, and I feel at peace with it.

    I currently just changed to my 3rd host family. The night of my change was a little rough for me. I've become so accustom to my 2nd host family. My little siblings and my parents. I found myself so home sick from Monchel-sur Conche. But my host family now is so amazing. Within the first night I felt so at home and so welcomed. My host mom showering me with nothing but love.

    With my 3rd host family, I would say I'm about 20 min. walk from my high school. So everyday I will be walking (unless my host mom can take me). Which is extremely good for me because I really need the exercise. This family is definetly a fit family. So I know I will be in some good shape. I have 2 younger brothers here and they are the cutest. My mom was the only girl in the house until I came along. So I know we will be spending a lot of time together. In one week it's winter vacation, and my family has planned a week of skiiing! Yes skiing! How cool is it to be able to say "Yeah, I went skiing in the Alps"?

    I've learned that exchange is made up of constant changing and goodbyes. I've recently had to say good-bye to my newbies (the Australians/New Zealanders of my district). Which was probably one of the hardest things and I think I cried more saying goodbye to them than my family at home when I left. It's the fact that I won't know when the next time I will see them again is what makes it so emotional. But I feel that is the best way to describe exchange. One big emotional rollercoaster. As fun as roller coasters are they sure do have some major upside downs, and crazy turns. But thats what makes them so fun, right?

    The holidays: I never really found myself to be upset that I'm away from home and my family. My host family had been on a constant move of family dinners. I kid you not, most of my Christmas break was made up of 95% of dinners. Needless to say I haven't lost any sort of weight. My favorite part about the dinners, is there's always something bizzare. I've tasted snails (my favorite thing in the world), duck liver (not my favorite), duck throat (also not a favorite), and just recenty nose. Yes I said it, nose. I'm pretty sure it was cow nose, I'm not really sure. But needless to say it wasn't half bad. I've learned not to ask what something is. Instead just eat it, and ask questions later. It almost seems like the French eat every part of the animal.

    I've also went hunting with my host dad and little brother and sister with my Rotary Club. It was very cool and but a little sad for the rabbits and birds. I really would love to get my hunting license here, but not for the hunting of the animal. But so I can wear the cute hunting hat.

    Just recently my Rotary District held a soiree exotique. Which is a fundraiser where all of the students make a dish from their home countries and we sell tickets and the money we raise goes to our Rotary trips. I made PB&J which definetly is a dish very American. Whenever I told someone it was peanut-butter and jelly on bread they gave me a face of digust.

    The next day after we went to the Candian Vemy Memorial. Which was so breath taking being able to go into the trenches and hearing about everything that happened there with the war. It was beautiful but also so sad. Thinking about how I was standing on a land where over 20,000 people died.

    Along with that Rotary week-end I have met all of the "newbies" of my district. I honestly was so scared that they wouldn't like us. The newbies are so amazing and I love every single one of them. But watching the newbies and how whenever someone talked to them, and they had that look of "what" and having to help them out and translate for them, reminded me so much of when I first got here.

    It's amazing watching people grow into the language, including myself. Of course I still have errors, but I have come such a far way since I have first arrived. From knowing absolutely nothing, to knowing everything that's being said to me. It's just crazy to think about.

    A big thank you to Rotary. For making all of this happen and for giving me the greatest year of my life. Words can't described how much this trip has changed me and opened my eyes to the beautiful world we live in. Rotary has given me more people to call my family and friends. They have given me a new home. They've given me a whole new life that I will never forget.
    BISOUSSSSS,
    Carley


  • Carley, outbound to France

    I really don't know how to sum up all that I've done in this past month without going insane and writing 60 pages but I'll try:

    First let me start off by saying I have the greatest host families in the ENTIREEEE WORRLLDDDDDDD!! If you didn't know my birthday was this month, Nov 7th, which was a Friday. Fridays at school I have 1 hour of history/geography in the morning, 2 hours of gym, and another hour of history/geography. Depending on what week I usually finish at either 3 or 5. Luckily on my birthday I was finished at 3. To start off my birthday I had to take the bus in morning, which really sucked because I couldn't sleep at all the night before knowing it was my birthday. Had 1 hour of history/geo no gym. Leaving a 4 hour gap til my next class. So my friends and I planned (prior to my birthday) to walk to the city and have a lunch because we had 4 hours. But my luck it was 45° and rainy on my birthday. When it rains here it's not all humid and sticky like Florida. It's windy and SUPER cold. So we ended up not going out for lunch and decided to eat at the school. Which isn't bad because the schools food isn't half bad. My luck again, I ended up having what looked like something my cat would hack up. So needless to say I didn't have a big lunch. After my last class at 3 I was finished for the day but still had to take the bus home at 5:30. So the other exchange student Felipe and I decided to walk to the city and hang out at my friend Belen (also an exchange student) house for 2 hours until I had to catch the bus home. That was probably the high light of my whole birthday, at the time.

    After taking the bus home I came to a empty house and with a note from my host mom saying she will be home in 2 hours. During those 2 hours, I have had no doubt, I was homesick. I'm perfectly fine by myself and won't even think about home but I couldn't stop thinking how much better it would be if I was home with family and friends. All day at school for only 2 hours of class, cats throw up for lunch, and no one home. It was easy to say I was over the day and just wanted to cuddle up in my bed. Finally everyone came home, but I only saw my mom for 15 mins til she left again. While sitting in the living room with my dad and brothers my dad mention something about a prayer for a man who just recently died in our village. My first thought was "dead people is not something I was to be thinking about right now".

    I take any little opportunity I'm given, so obviously I agreed to go to a prayer. When getting ready to leave my dad said we were going to have cake at my host sister(who lives in the same village, 5 seconds away from the house). By this time of night I was looking super "ratchet" and totally not dressed for a party. Parking the car my dad told me to help him come get the cake out of the garage. First thought was "why is the cake in the garage?" Stepping threw the door the lights turned on and I had all my host families and Felipe and Belen cheering "surprise !!!" And started singing happy birthday. I literally was on the brink of tears I was so happy and just so over whelmed. I was literally speechless. My dad asked me to say something but literally no words would come out. Literally speechless! Here I was thinking I'm having the worst birthday, and BAM! Turns to be the greatest birthday I've ever had in my life. I spent the night mingling with my host families (who are so excited to have me), and eating the yummiest cake in the world. 'Twas the perfect birthday.

    Now to my host families: I changed to my 2nd host family the 25th of November. I was supposed to change a week earlier but rotary had a cooking weekend (I'll explain later) so they just decided to push it back a week. Which I wasn't really that upset about because that means I have another week with my first host family. Packing my bags for the next family was hard. I remember the first night I arrived. Crying because I missed home and family in Florida but now crying because I'm going to miss my Roussel family in Monchy, Breton. It's crazy how you can go to a complete strangers house, in a completely different environment, to being so at home and apart of the family in such a short amount of time. It's truely amazing and the heart warming feeling isn't describable. I have a lot of my mom in me which means I'm so emotional when it comes to saying any kind of goodbyes. It's such a curse. It's hard . To be so at home just to move a gain In a matter of 2 months.

    Speaking of the first 2 months, I've always told myself I wouldn't weigh myself til the day I leave back for the U.S. but I gave in. WRONG MISTAKE. Got on the scale and wasn't really as upset about change as much as I thought I would be. I like telling people at home "oh only 6 kilos" because they don't know kilos...but than I have to break the news..10 POUNDS!!!!! 10 POUNDS IN 2 MONTHS!! As much as it is, I wasn't that sad about it. Why? Because its 10 pounds from some Amazing food!

    During the exchange to my new host family a lot of tears were shed. Now, I am officially the "Big" sister with my new family. I have a little brother and 2 little sisters. So that means I'm very occupied and don't really have a lot of time to be homesick. Which is extremely good for me. Especially because this is supposed to be the time of homesickness.I have a wonderful view from my window of the fish farm and at night I fall asleep to the river that runs on the side of the house. I'm truly grateful for the families I have. All of them are perfect and I'm just so LUCKY. Especially after hearing a lot of stories of people who have had "not so good" families or families they aren't able to connect with. There are even times I forget I'm an exchange student and actually apart of my families. Which is when you know your at home.

    Adventures: In November I went to Liege, Belgium for the weekend with my former exchange brother Brother who my family hosted when I was in 4th grade. GOSHHHH! It's so amazing to just cross a boarder like it's nothing and end up in a completely different country with completely different people, (sometimes language), and different cultures. In Belgium we did a lot of shopping, a lot of chocolate eating, and I visited Disney on ice, which is like the big ICE that we have at the gaylord palms in Florida. I also cut off 5 inches of my hair!!!!! it was so great to see Nathan and Audrey!

    The weekend before my switch to a new family, my first host family decided to take me to a farm and milk cows. YES, MILK COWS! It was so nasty, yet so cool. Truly something I will never forget. The sweet smell of cow poop and hay, how could I not??

    Rotary: A lot of events are going on with Rotary!! We had a soiree exotique, which was a fundraiser made for our trip to Paris. All of the exchange students had to cook a dish from their home country. So of course I chose mac and cheese. Wasn't as good as my dad's but it was a start. Soon after the soiree exotique my rotary club threw a marche de noel (Christmas market) at an old abbey in my town. Where Belen, Felipe, and I made crepes! Which isn't as nearly easy as it looks! After this, my Rotary club on St. Pol took us on a tour of one of the biggest sugar factories, where all of the sugar in France and a lot of the world is processed. We watched the process of how sugar is made, Quiet smelly but fascinating.

    I just recently returned from a weekend in Paris with the exchange students of my district. WHAT A WEEKEND!! Of course with my luck I got sick the day we left and couldn't even talk for the whole day. Which maybe was a good thing, because I can never stop talking. The first day we went to "Chateau de Chantilly".Which is an old castle made by the royals of France. After the chateau we went to "Montmartre: basilique du Sacre Coeur superbe panorama de Paris". Which is basically a hill in the middle of Paris with a church at the very top. Words can't describe how beautiful the view was. To be able to see all of Paris at night.

    The next day we went to "Palais de la Decouverte". Which is a huge science museum in Paris, but looks like a castle. Because of the weather we couldn't have a picnic under the eiffel tower like was planned. So we ate in the museum and after took a boat down the Seine River which stopped at the Eiffel Tower. Even in the rain the Eiffel Tower never looked so beautiful. I'm sorry, I say beautiful a lot. But it's just that is what France is. BEAUTIFUL!!

    Soon after the Eiffel Tower we hopped back on the boat and the next stop was "Champs Elysees". Which is the most expensive road in all of France and the most famous. Here was the Christmas market, where you could buy a xtra small hot chocolate for a wopping 4 euros... But with all the lights.. IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL!! The next day was the "Notre Dame de Paris". Where we climbed all the way to the top and sat for awhile just taking in the BEAUTIFUL view. Which if you know the Disney movie "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" this is the place where it takes place!

    The Hunchback of Notre Dame was written by Victor Hugo, who is a very famous French writer. It was really amazing to be able to experience and learn the history behind  Notre Dame and along with the movie. Shortly after we visited the house of Victor Hugo. Just a quick look and then left after. This was the last Rotary weekend with the oldies. Saying good-bye was one of the hardest. To become so close to people in such a short amount of time and to have them leave. It's really hard.

    For Rotary at home: It seems like just yesterday I was nervously waiting outside the doors for my interviews, and getting that call that told me I got accepted while in the middle of a dressing room on black Friday, and just screaming from excitment! If any of the newbies are reading this, how does it feel?? The anticipation? The count down begins, which means you better work your butt off on learning your language! Trust me nothing is more rewarding than people telling you how much you know from such a short about of time. One thing I have to say to the newbies, is do not take ONE day for granted. Time goes by a lot faster than you will ever imagine. I remember "45 weeks til France!" and now I'm almost 4 months in.

    "Don't count the days, make the days count", is a saying I live by everyday. Trying to explain what exchange does to you is like trying to nail jello to a tree. It's impossible. You get shaped into a completely different person, for the better obviously. You have a whole new perspective on life. This new itch to see every inch of the world-learn every language. Exchange isn't a year in your life, it's a life in a year. A life that is going to stay with you where ever you go. A part of you is imprinted into your host country, as well as the host country leaving an imprint in you. (Not tattoos obviously because that breaks one of the 5 D's ;-) ) I love exchange and all that it's doing for me. I really don't know how I am going to leave this place I know consider to be my home. Wake up thankful for Rotary everyday for this experience.
    xoxo,
    Carley


  • Carley, outbound to France

    Tighter jeans, fatter face, welcome to my life on exchange

    2 months?? Already?? Where do I start for this past month?? I've noticed such a big difference in my French. In a good way obviously, I'm understanding a lot more, still butchering my sentences but the point gets across, and still not getting used to this cold weather!!

    For my French: It most definetly has come a long long way since my arrivial. I'm currently taking French lessons with a local Rotarian online, which is helping me a lot. My biggest problem with the language is no doubt the translating in my head and speaking it in the proper French grammar. If that makes sense? When I speak French, I have the English sentence my head and end up speaking they way it would be said in English. The sentences are backwards and all over the place compared to the English language. No doubt there is a love/hate relationship between the French language and the English language, in my mind.

    I used to be so embarrassed to make mistakes when speaking. But I'm proud of how far I've come and I've learned to accept the fact I'm still going to make tons of mistakes with the language. Then I remind myself, "hey when I leave I'm going to be fluent". For myself, I can read French better than I can talk it. Why? Because the word sounds completely different than how they're spelled! I will be studying for a English test and think I know all of the words, than I will have one of my French friends practice with me and I would end up getting so many words wrong. Again, the French frustration. The amount of times I would listen to a conversation and think "oh my gosh. I understand. I actually understand what their saying," is probably one of the greatest/ weirdest feelings that could happen to a person, along with the rush of confidence.

    There are times where I feel like I'm getting no where and I wonder, why I am here? That's when I get into these slumps and frustrated with everything. All it takes for me to get out of the slump is to read something in French, and I know what it says,and just to tell myself "you wouldn't have known what that meant 1 month ago".
    Or when my host mom told me she saw a massive progression in my French, that gave me that little push to tell myself I can actually do this and it will get easier. The pride and joy I have for myself that within 2 months, I've come so far!!

    Me: I'm doing beyond great! AMAZING! I love it here. I haven't found myself to be homesick..yet.. but yeah there are times I wish I could just get a hug from someone back home. Especially since hugging really isn't a thing here. That's one reason why I love Rotary weekends is because of all the hugs. But I'll get to that later.

    My face is getting a lot fatter and my jeans are slowly getting tighter. Like the little rhyme I made?? "Tighter jeans, fatter face, welcome to my life on exchange". I still get super duper tired. By 9 at night my brain is completely fried and so difficult for me to understand. I still would be the first one to fall asleep, and be the last one to get up. It's not as if I don't sleep well, I'm just soooooo tired! Because I'm on the topic of sleep I have to tell you about my extremely embarrassing sleep stories.

    At home I knew when I was younger that I talked in my sleep. But as I got older I haven't had anyone say anything to me about it so I just assumed I didn't do it anymore. Nope. The house I'm in echos , especially at night, and you can hear everything. My room is right above my parents to make things worst. My first night in France I guess I was crying in my sleep, and woke up to my host mom freaking out asking me if I was okay..Waking up confused I was wondering why she asked me that and the next morning I found out I was crying in my sleep. About what? I have no clue! Then I'll have my host dad ask me if I was talking with anyone last night, and I would say no? Then get extremely embarrassed at the fact I'm still actively talking in my sleep. Before I go to bed I'm completely terrified because I don't want to talk in my sleep and wake up my host parents! I would so rather be a person who snores than a sleep talker. Bringing me to my next subject:

    My host family: My host family is so amazing I can't even describe! I can't believe I only have 2 weeks left with them:( What's horrible thinking about is having to start the same awkward process of moving in with a family and as soon as I get comfortable having to leave...3 more times.

    My host mom and I spend a lot of time together. We are always out doing something. She's the definition of a busy bee. With this family, their son (Paul Roussel) is also doing exchange..in Florida! He's in Tallahassee , that's still extremely cool to think about. And just recently found out my little host brother is going to do exchange next year to Canada.

    Fun fact about my next family: My host dad is a fish breeder. How cool/weird is that???? The house is literally right next to his (I'm not sure how you would call it) but fish breeding office?? Every year tons of people come to fish and what not. It's actually very interesting! My second host mom is an eye doctor, they live 20 minutes away from the school, and unlike my current family (which I have to say I'm so grateful my mom doesn't work because she can just take me and pick me up from school whenever I need to go or end. With my next family, I will take the bus to school at 7 a.m. and stay at school til it's finished. With the bus ride being about an hour long..UGH.

    School: School is school. To be bluntly honest I hate French school compared to school back home! It's long, boring, and way too complicated of a schedule.You really appreciate school events and activities at home like hoco, or pep rallys, or even dress up days more after being here where they don't even have a mascot or any school sports team! I could say that was one thing I did get homesick about. Seeing my friends and Paul dressing up for hoco week and seeing all the pictures of my friends having a good time at hoco, but then I remind myself, who cares YOU’RE IN FRANCE!

    I appreciate school in Florida so much more after leaving. We can't even drink water or snack in class. At first I really tried to understand what was going on, but it was way to difficult so I kinda just gave up in school. All of my teachers are pretty nice and understand I don't understand anything. I'm in 1L which is the junior year of the literature route. I have 3 different English classes, lots of French classes, and history/geography. I'm pretty slick with my English teachers. I easily talked my first English teacher (in French) instead of doing work to watch a movie in English on my netflix. Without hesitation he said yes, so the last day before break my 2 hour English class was spent watching American Horror Stories. Needless to say my friends were pretty happy I was with them.

    I make sure I'm not the smarty pants in any of my English classes. I listen and take notes just like any of the students. When I see someone struggling I help them out because I mean that’s the least I could do because they do the same for me. If anything my English class is helping me a lot with my French also. For my history and geography class (my teacher is also my Euro English teacher) he understands I don't understand anything so I got out of a 2 hour test. Speaking of tests. Tests here are 2 hours long...TWO HOURS LONG!!!! It's so ridiculous. I'm finally starting to get a hold of my completely confusing school schedule (also completely ridiculous).My host brother in Fl. said he also prefers school in Florida compared to France.

    For my friends, I have a great group of friends who love helping me with my French. I don't feel like such an outcast as I felt when I first arrived. Currently I am on fall break which is 2 weeks long. It's pretty fabulous. The first week of break I went to my first football (soccer) match that I’ve watched live (the game was completely horrible but it was really cool to watch), went to Lille with my fellow exchangies where we had a grand picnic with loads of food, then spent a day in Paris with my host mom where we went to fashion and TV museums which was uber cool! Along with taking my first subway ride. How cool is that to say? “yeah the first time I rode a subway was in Paris..No big deal.”

    I love Paris! The atmosphere is so amazing, even if you catch random scents of hobo urine. My 2nd part of break we went to stay with my host mom’s sister in Bretagne for 5 days. On the way there we traveled up and down the coast to see all the different beaches. It truly was magnificent. The water was so blue, and most of it was cliffs. I visited a beach where they had rocks in place of sand..How weird right? I’ve never felt so at home when I was at the beaches.

    Along with the houses, ugh French houses are the cutest! Especially in Normandy, which is another place we visited on the travel down. Normandy is known for their spotted cows and adorable houses. In Normandy we visited the Omaha Beach again. Super gorgeous and the feeling was incredible. When arriving at my host mom’s sister's house I was introduced to 2 more Americans who were also doing exchange here but not with Rotary. They go to an all American school where they have French classes, along with a French class to learn French, an English and a math in English.

    In the visit we also visited St. Malo, which is where all of the boats take off for a race across the Atlantic called the “Route du Rhum”. On the last day of our stay we went on this amazing walk through a local woodsy area. It the magnificent to see all of the trees with red, orange, and yellow leaves. Nothing like Florida where fall is just a season that we don’t get to experience. I wish it could stay fall all year here. The weather has been perfect and it’s just a wonderful season.

    Rotary: My Rotary district (and I kid you not) is one of the greatest host districts in France. This past month I went to one of the worlds 7 wonders, Mont. St Michel. Let me tell you. One of the greatest weekends of my life. Not only do I love each and every student in my district but I met even more students from 2 other districts.

    Could you imagine? A hotel filled with 3 districts of exchange students?It was amazing for us but not so much for the hotel. To think, I've been here for 2 months and the exchange students in my district I could honestly say are my bestest friends I have ever had. I love being around other exchange students. We all relate and connect about the same stuff. No one will understand the bond of exchange students unless you are an exchange student. It's completely indescribable and just amazing.

    In Mont St. Michel I also met up with my other Floridian, Mariah. First day of the weekend to Mont. St Michel it was a 6 hour bus ride to the first hotel. Where before getting to the hotel we visited the Normandy Memorial and Ohmaha Beach. The feeling of being there, no words can describe. It was breathtaking and beautiful in every way and I was so proud to be an American. The 2nd day of the Rotary weekend was walking around the outside of Mont. St Michel. It was gooey, clay like mud, with this sort of trampoline sand that you can sink into. Sorta like quick sand. It was extremely awesome.

    Later the 2nd day we had a Rotary dinner with all the exchange students (200 exchange students). Here every country had to sing their national anthems. Later that night Rotary threw us an awesome party with a DJ and strobe lights that lasted til 2 in the morning... 2 in the morning!!!!!! The next day having to be up at 7 in the morning, we all looked like sleep deprived zombies. But that's the fun of Rotary weekends. Having so much fun at night and not even worried about sleep because you would rather talk with everyone. Until the next morning when you wish you hadn't.

    The weather on the 3rd day was horrible. Rainy, windy, and cold! That day we hiked up to Mont St. Michel and went on the inside which was completely breathe taking! After touring it for 2-3 hours we walked around to all the little boutiques and sat in cafes enjoying each others company and the fact were actually at Mont st. Michel.

    Saying goodbye to the students in my district is honestly one of the most upsetting times. Now? Now I'm counting down the days til I'm reunited with my best friends at the next Rotary weekend and they're doing the same. Within an hour of everyone being home everyone was writing on our district's facebook wall talking about how much we miss each other already. The next Rotary weekend is a Expo dinner where each one of us has to make a food from our country. After that weekend then it's our Rotary Weekend to Paris! I LOVE DISTRICT 1520!!!

    I'm currently in a region that's considered to have the worst weather in France. But it hasn't phased me one bit for my love of it. I love France, and Happy 2 months France and 8 more to come.
    xoxo,
    Carley


  • Carley, outbound to France

    HAPPY ONE MONTH TO FRANCE 

    WHAT A MONTH! I love love love love loveeeeee France!

    The day of my departure I just couldn't believe it. It seemed like just yesterday I was saying "40 weeks til France!" and now I was saying "we have to leave for the airport in 5 mins."

    Every inch of France is perfect. As soon as I got off my plane at CDG Paris, we went straight to see the Eiffel Tower. I never knew a tall piece of metal could be so gorgeous. Honestly a breath taking site. A couple of times I literally had to pinch myself, I just couldn't believe it. So many times I've had dreams about being there and pinched myself awake. So obviously I had to double check.

    Shortly after being picked up from the airport and going to the Eiffel Tower we went home. It was a 2 ½ hour ride, pushing everything I had to keep myself awake, I was running on 4 hours of sleep because the night before my departure I was so stunned that the next day I was leaving, sleeping wasn't an option. Than on the 8 hour turbulent plane ride I had a group of teens who didn't seem to notice everyone around them wasn't trying to sleep. Or the fact my chair didn't go back.

    My first week in France was great. My host family is beyond amazing. To get one thing clear about French stereotypes, I have yet to meet one rude French person. Everyone here is beyond friendly and I love it! The village I am in isn't what really comes to mind when I think "village". Its a small town in a town. The culture shock really wasn't that big for me because the landscape is a lot like the landscape of where I'm from in New Jersey. Lots of farmland. Not to mention every person on my street has cows. Yes, cows and I love it! To come from a beach town to a farm town with more cows than people, it's honestly so amazing.

    Everyone knows everyone here. One thing I won't get used to is not wearing shorts and a tank top. All jeans and all long sleeves all the time. To compare the weather here, it is the same latitude as Maine ....SUPER COLDDD!! Except the fact this past week has been 75-80. My luck, I have nothing but warm clothing, so you could imagine the sweat dripping off me.

    My first morning coming down stairs was super awkward. I felt like a complete stranger (which I was) and felt so weird coming down to breakfast to a different mom. In America, I never really ate breakfast. So coming here was a big change when breakfast was a semi-big thing. Breakfast mainly consists of bread, fruit, nutella, orange juice, and milk. Since I'm already on the subject of food...FRENCH FOOD IS THE BEE'S KNEES. I've never tasted anything so amazing in my entire life.  And dad if your reading this don't get offended... My host mom is one of the greatest cooks. Everything is just amazing and ugh, I love food.

    Lunch seems to be as important as dinner. My appetite wasn't used to all the different times of eating and the proportions. First let me get one thing clear, I can eat. Not a general statement but the amount of food I eat is completely outrageous for the 16 year old girl I am. As my dad says "I have a hollow leg". So obviously I was always hungry the first 2 weeks but scared to just go into the fridge. Or to even show my host family I actually eat a lot. Within the 3rd week I was eating a lot more...The thing is after we have a meal I'm always still hungry. Since I'm starting to feel a lot at home, I've been feeling more comfortable eating. Slowly, I feel the daily bread and yummy pastries going straight to my cheeks and thighs.

    Something that has taken a lot to get used to was the bathrooms. The bathroom and the shower are on completely different levels of the house. (Did I mention I have my own shower??)

    The first week here,there was a Rotary weekend with all of the other exchange students in my district (1520) at Dunkerque. Which is a town right on the English Channel. Here I was told we were going to the beach, so being from a beach town I was super excited and ready to get my beach on. Then found out I would actually be shrimping, a little hesitant on what I would be expecting I was still excited because I love the beach. When we arrived at the beach it was 50 degrees. 50 degrees and here we are shrimping in cold water, how horrible right? WRONG! Despite how it sounds it honestly was one of the funnest things I've ever done.

    Before going for the weekend, we picked up 2 other exchange students who are in my town and go to the same school as me. Belen who is from Bolivia and Felipe who is from Brazil. This weekend was one of the greatest weekends of my life. Not only are Belen and Felipe my ultimate besties, but at the weekend, I've met 50 other exchange students who are now some of my best friends. Everyone at the weekend just clicked and it was honestly such an amazing feeling. To be in 1 place with people who understand what you're feeling and going through and just being able to connect with each other is honestly the greatest.

    At the weekend I also met 12 other exchange students who are considered the "oldies" who are from Australia that arrived in January and will be leaving in January. Basically, the big siblings of all of us "newbies". The oldies accepted us with open arms and open conversations to talk to them about anything and everything. Who would have thought just a bunch of names on a piece of paper would now become some of your life long friends.

    Now, on to the first day of school. Scariest day of my life and no doubt the most confusing. Not only with the fact I have no clue what any of my teachers are saying but also the schedule. Nothing like Florida school days. My first day I was dropped off at my 4th host families house (who lives right down the street from the school) and I walked with my host brother Clement who is also a student there. Clement and I have 2 completely different classes. He is in Science and I am in literature. So when the bell rang to begin class I was beyond lost and wanted to cry. But Clement stayed with me to make sure I got to class.

    BUT the school didn't even have a schedule made for me. After they told Clement to go to class I was on the brink of tears. I had no classes, no friends, and all by myself in a place I felt like I didn't belong. THEN THE GREATEST THING HAPPENED. I was reunited with Belen and Feilipe. They were just as relieved to see me as I was to see them. As they sent us to our classes (which all had different classes) you could feel the separation anxiety happening between us. (it's the exchange student bond obviously).

    Going into my classroom everyone was just staring at me. Here I am, an outsider in a class of students who have been in the same class with each other for years, I now really felt out of place. I'm in a class of about 30 kids who are separated into groups for different classes. Unlike Florida schools where the schedule is already made, the teacher told you the classes and you had to make your own schedule. I was already overwhelmed with it being the first day of school, but got even more overwhelmed with not being able to understand the teacher when she was telling us what classes.

    Clearly with tears in my eyes I asked the person next to me. He knew no English, but he could tell I was struggling. So he made a schedule for me that was very sloppy, but it was a schedule. As I'm in the middle of trying to talk to another student next to me about my schedule the group of girls behind me ask me if I knew French, and I responded "un peu" meaning a little. Than they asked me what language I spoke and I responded "Anglais". Thankfully god sent me a great gift of a girl behind me who was British and knew English. Now I know I'm not supposed to be speaking English but I was lost beyond my mind and I needed all the help I could get.

    After getting things got clearer they asked me if I wanted to eat lunch with them. I accepted, I did not want to be the new girl eating lunch in the bathroom. Bringing me to another subject; lunch. At school people actually eat the lunch. Unlike the school lunches at home which no one ever seemed to touch. (Like I said earlier, lunch is a major meal here) which was a little weird for me. Walking into a cafeteria it was like a buffet. My eyes widened with over joy. The lunch at school is amazing compared to home, but horrible compared to my host mom's cooking.

    Finally starting to make my group of friends, school isn't becoming such a drag. Since people found out I was American they've been more how do I say, welcoming? Not to mention the fact they are completely gullible. People ask me some pretty weird questions, so obviously I’m going to have a little fun with it. “Do you work at Disney??” “Of course! I play the princess of Cinderella!” OH! And dozens of kids wear the American flag. On the subject of dressing for school, oh my. There's no such thing as a lazy day in French school when it comes to clothing. Everyday you have to be dressed "nicely". Not like suit nicely, but the French kids judge harshly by the types of clothes you wear. Let me say, its quite exhausting trying to dress as non sloppy as I can for school.

    One thing I really wish would go away is my constant sleepiness. I'm always catching myself dozing off in class, or even riding in the car. I'm always the first one to bed but the last one to get up. I could get more than 12 hours of sleep and still be just as tired as if I had 2 hours of sleep. 

    Before I end this blog I would just like to thank Rotary for this amazing experience and everyone who is helping me and supporting me through this. This has been an awesome month and I can't wait to see what the rest of the trip has in store for me. 

    P.S.
    Jack Murray was right about those "what the hell am I doing here" moments. I've asked myself that question almost every single day. But I wouldn't trade these moments for anything. Every second here has been amazing to me.

    I LOVE FRANCE
    Xoxo,
    Carley


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