Marisa Searle

France

Hometown: Lake Mary, Florida
School: Lake Mary
Sponsor District: 6980
Sponsor Club: Doctor Phillips
Host District: 1780
Host Club

 

My Bio


Bonjour! My name is Marisa Searle and I am 16 years old and come from Lake Mary, Florida (about a half an hour North of Orlando). I live with my wonderful mom and have three amazing older sisters who have all moved out now and shown me that there’s a whole world out there. This summer I got the incredible opportunity to visit Japan and once I got a taste of how big the world is, I knew that there was more to life than just Lake Mary (although I am super grateful and blessed to have been raised here:). If it wasn’t for that trip I wouldn’t be where I am today: about to embark on the best adventure of my life! By the time the Country Reveal Dinner rolled around I had heard the phrase, ‘it’s not about where you go, its that you go,’ so many times that I had come to truly accept it. Right before I found out my country I realized that no matter what country I got I’d be overwhelmingly happy with it. When I read (squealed) out France for the first time, it finally hit me that it was all real. I am still squealing a bit just writing about it and probably won’t stop squealing till my exchange is over! Au revoir!


Saying goodbye at the airport

Saying goodbye at the airport

You can see the Rhone! The river I live next to!

You can see the Rhone! The river I live next to!

Journals: Marisa – France 2016-17

  • Marisa, outbound to France

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    I have now officially been in France for over 4 months. I know... HOW. Where has the time gone? Is there a way to slow it down? Do I HAVE to go back? I have gotten to that point in my exchange, the point where you never want to leave. These past four months have been a rollercoaster of emotions and experiences and I wouldn't trade that for the world because I am now a different person than I was when I left. I don't really consider myself a writer, all though I do enjoy it, but having a blog has made me realize how difficult it is; there's soooo much I want to say but it's impossible to say it all otherwise my fingers would fall off. But I am going to try my best to sound coherent and make sense. With that being said, I realized that my last blog post was pretty easy and fluid to write because I stuck to a theme and a list so here goes this theme: turning points.

    Christmas break: Let me just tell you how needed this break was. French school is crazy long and really demanding and yes I'm aware I've already mentioned that before. But I got so much well needed rest over the break and got to sleep in for the first time in forever. And I actually ended up losing weight which is ironic because they eat a LOT for Christmas. And when I say lose weight it was one kilo out of the five I've gained being here so I'm still living up to the exchange 15 don't worry.

    Chambèry: I got to visit my exchange friends in Chambèry! Me and three other American girls in my district all met up in this super cute city in the mountains. It was even cuter than normal because of the Christmas lights and a charming little Christmas market. Basically this was also much needed because you get to vent and be reminded that you're not alone on all the ups and downs of exchange. That, and the fact they're all super awesome and hilarious. (@ Ellie, Amanda, and Hadley :)) 

    Christmas: Basically it's just an excuse to eat for non-stop for two days. Traditional Christmas foods that I do not like: oysters and foie gras. I'm not sure if I've already mentioned foie gras before in a past blog post but if I haven't I'm warning you now. It's disgusting. I've eaten it three times and after the third I realized it's not gonna grow on me and it's not gonna just all of a sudden get better. But besides foie gras and oysters they have really good Christmas foods like la bûche and smoked salmon to make up for it! If you've never had la bûche, I'm sorry. It changes your life. It's literal tiny angels dancing in your mouth sprinkling sweet sensations over each individual tastebud. And I'm not over exagerating either. But also I got the sweetest gifts from my host siblings! And from my sponsoring rotary club! It made me feel so loved and got in me in the Christmas spirit so thank you to all who made this Christmas so special!

    Villard de lans: Family vacay!! A tiny village in the mountains that was so breath takingly beautiful it almost made me cry. (Not literally cry but it was beautiful and did leave me speechless). And for a Floridian who hates and despises the cold (the Swedish in me only tolerates it) I finally understood why people liked winter; it's the snow. There wasn't enough snow to go skiing yet but there were some baby snowmen and people going sledding. By the end of our three day stay I discovered that I indeed do like the cold (as long as there is snow). And we hiked a LOT. Which I've always enjoyed but have never experienced in the cold. One of the days we hiked a total of four hours to get to this tiny restaurant that had no running water and no electricity. We ended up having the most magical-fairy tale-candle lit lunch EVER. My only complaint would be the out house haha. First time for everything! 
    Changing host families: Bitter sweet. I was excited to change families and have a different experience but it was hard because I was saying good bye. Not just to my host family but to the past four months of my life, to my village, to my bedroom, to my amazing view from the shower, and every little small thing in between. That, and it also meant my exchange is 1/3 over. But my new years resolution is to continue living in the moment and making every second so I've decided to look at it in the fact that I've only just begun.

    NYE: My first french party! My new host sister (who I already love) invited me to a NYE party. It was so much fun and the biggest turning point socially for me. It made me fall in love with the people. I didn't need more convincing that France was beautiful, or that the food was amazing, but I still hadn't broken social barriers. Most European countries are like this in my opinion. They are all pretty closed off to new people but once they finally let their walls down, they fully accept you. It's taken 4 months for me to feel this way but the patience and work was worth it. French people are some of the most caring people ever. If someone falls asleep at the party someone else will put a blanket over them and make sure they're okay. Those are just some specific examples but my point is, I'm finally french. Maybe not legally but in every other way that's how people are finally starting to treat me. And I love it!

    Today: As I was getting ready today I was listening to music and brushing my teeth and then a spotify ad came on. By the end of it I realized it was in French and I understood every word. Yeah it was only 30 seconds but still! It just made me realize all the progress I've made and was a little encouraging reminder that all though it's hard, it is possible. 

    Reflection time: I was reminded today of truly how amazing it all is. One of my best friends, and practially a sister, who's also on exchange (@ Emma) asked me "What if?" What if I hadn't gone on exchange. And it made me realize and truly reflect on these past four months. The answer is I can't imagine. I physically can not imagine my life if I had never gone on exchange. The things I've learned, the person I've become, it's all so a part of me now that it's like asking what if I was never born. It's just impossible to imagine. France is my home and truly a part of me now. Before I had submitted my application, which feels like an eternity ago now, I told Emma I wasn't sure if I should go. I owe it to her for being my rock through it all. As much as I can't imagine me never going, I even more can't imagine not having you through it all. So thank you Em! 

    To any future outbounds: You're in for the ride of your life. It's gonna be hard but the rewards are worth it a thousand fold! The holidays are sometimes just a pure struggle but hang in there because trust me, it only gets better. 

  • Marisa, outbound to France

    Read more about Marisa and all her blogs

    It's the little things that make me never want to leave. I've been here a little over 3 and a half months and I can't believe it. Time is going by so fast now; the weeks feel like they only last a couple days. The school days still feel long but I think I'm used to it enough that it doesn't feel that bad. But back to the little things! Here's a little list of little things with a little description of why I love them haha!

    -how you always eat together

    I can't say I haven't eaten alone here because I have but only because of conflicting schedules with friends, but for the most part every meal you eat, you eat with someone else. Which I love. Sometimes we'll wait an hour or so for my host parent to come back from work just so we can eat together and it's the cutest thing. Plus, it's always a homemade dinner. I didn't realize how often I went out to eat until I came here! But I'd choose French food over American fast food any day. (but of course I have my cravings;)

    -how you have to give kisses when greeting people

    At first I thought this was the strangest thing. When I got off the airport and got kissed by people I'd never met I didn't know what to do but now I love it! Wherever you go you get acknowledged and respected. From a 3 year old to a 93 year old, everyone gets greeted with a kiss on the cheek (or two, or three, or four depending on where you live). Plus, it's less awkward then a hug but kinder than just a handshake. It's a happy medium between the two.

    -the fact that there is always a baguette at every meal

    This I thought would just be a false stereotype. Before I came I had the picture in my head of a man with a baguette in his arm riding the bike. 100% accurate. Lunch and dinner for sure and you usually have tartines for breakfast which is just a baguette cut into small pieces and toasted.

    -the french never beat around the bush

    This took me a while to get used to but now I like the brutal honesty of their culture. It's not mean, it's just real. If they're sad, they tell you. If they're mad, they show it. The French people as a whole are more open with their emotions in that sense which I love compared to the American "I'm fine."

    -SOAP

    Honestly, no soap compares to French soap. I smell like a baby queen who bathed in rose petals. It's the best soap in the world and no one can argue with it. (I sound so French but it's true). 

    -the food

    This one should be a no brainer because everyone knows France is known for it's amazing food. They have the best deserts, pastries, and breads in the world. Cheese on the other hand gets left out of this because they don't pasteurize it (even though pasteurization was invented by a French man) so I only like a few of the mild cheeses here. But they have the best yogurt here so it makes up for it. 

    -french 'filler words' and noises

    "Bah," "ouais," "euh," just to name a few, are the trick to sounding fluid and like a real francophone. Every exchange student knows that to learn your host language you just gotta fake it till you make it. Now that it's been three months I can speak in French (not fluently but getting there) I use filler words and sounds, that I can't really describe in words, for confidence. Without them there'd be a discouraging silence and I wouldn't have the confidence to speak in french. So I'm verrrry grateful French has so many of them.

    -french facial expressions and hand gestures

    Rule number 1: If you speak French, you have to look French. Obviously your mouth is gonna change because you're making different sounds with it than your native language but you also gain like 20 new hand gestures and ways to move your head and eyebrows. It's hard to describe but it's a really cool feeling when you realize you sound and act like a french person without having to try.

    -long lunches

    Another given. I don't know how I'll ever get used to the short lunches in America again. I love the 2 hour lunches it's the perfect break and there's no rush and you can just socialize, relax, and enjoy your company and food.

    That's all I can think of for now. Real quickly though I must tell you about my weekend.
    Thursday, I made a Thanksgiving dinner for 6 with help from my host mom who made the turkey. Everyone loved it and were so shocked at the sweet potato casserole, stuffing, and gravy which cracked me up because stuffing makes more since then duck intestine but oh well! Friday, I participated in a 5k walk for raising money for sick children. I don't know the details of the cure we were walking for but I do know that my whole entire village came out and we all ate french onion soup together at the end. It honestly felt like I was a villager in Beauty in the Beast it was so cute! Our village may only be 1,800 people but there is such a big sense of community! Saturday, my host family and I went to a super nice restaurant that even had one Michelin star. Best. Meal. Of. My. Life. It was my first gastronomy experience and it was amazing. The food was super tiny but there was sooo many courses that by the end I felt like I had eaten my body weight in gourmet food haha! It was my host g randma's 80th birthday so that's how we celebrated! Gotta love Mammi Lou Lou! Sunday, I went to church and was delighted to hear ... you guessed it, Christmas hymns! Christmas is finally upon us! EEEP! And on that note guess who will be seeing the Christmas lights in Paris in one week from now. This girl! I'm elated that I get to go and super grateful to my host parents who are taking me! My host sister lives in Paris and we will be celebrating her birthday when we're there! I'm pumped!

  • Marisa, outbound to France

    Read more about Marisa and all her blogs

    Exchange is really hard. Period. People laugh in your face every day. A lot of people are mean. Some people will just mock you over and over again and never help you. What I mean is that the french stereotype is true for like half the people. A lot of my friends and especially the ones at school are super nice and helpful and will have the occasional laugh which doesn't bother me. What bothers me is the man, who I won't name, who NEVER corrects me and just continues to laugh. It's been two months dude. Please just tell me how to say 'pardon' correctly. He's not the only one though. I was really hoping that the stereotype of French people being snobby about their language or in general wasn't true but it is at least half the time. That being said, slightly snobby people can still be incredibly nice once they finally accept you into there lives.
    My second complaint is school. When people ask me how it is, I say fine but it's not. It sucks and apparently this is a universal thing for exchange students. It's incredibly long and incredibly boring. My English teacher is well "not the nicest" (not my english lit teacher b/c she's British and nice). And some other teachers are "not the nicest" too and have no respect for the students. Thank goodness the art teacher is nice though she's the saving grace to that whole school, that and my French as a second language teacher (and also my second host mom when I change families in January), and my friends. Making friends ain't easy either. All the kids know me because I'm the only exchange student but that doesn't mean they all want to talk to me. I'm also in a grade below me because the grade I was supposed to be in would have been "boring" for me. Everyone is 2 years younger than me and it's hard to relate or connect to them because of that and some times I wish they put me in the grade I belong in because school will be boring either way but at least I can relate to people my age. I do however have a select few close friends who mean so much to me because I don't know what I'd do without them. And although school is boring the 2 hour lunch makes it easier and we go on a lot of field trips. I've visited an art museum in a castle twice and gone to watch movies in town to participate in the film festival twice. Basically I just want you to know that even though I complained and told you a bunch of negative stuff there's a bunch of positive and amazing stuff that I'm leaving out. There's so many amazing things that make these teeny complaints look like nothing but if I wrote them all down you'd be bored to death. But I do have two more teeny complaints to add: Homesickness is a real thing!!! and also host families can be a challenge too when there's a language barrier and can't see eye to eye with you. But I still love them to death; my real family and my host!

    To finish off, I knew exchange was not gonna be glamorous but that doesn't stop it from being amazing. I wanted to share with you my lows and my highs so you can really see my journey and not just one side of it! If you read this whole thing, thank you! It means a lot to know someone's listening! :)

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