Granger West


Hometown: East Cobb, Georgia
School: Walton
Sponsor District : District 6900
Sponsor Club: East Cobb, Georgia
Host District: 1740
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Riom/Châtel-Guyon

My Bio

Bonjour mes amis! My name is Granger West and I am 17 years old and live in East Cobb (a northwestern suburb of Atlanta) with my mom and younger sister. I am a junior at Walton High School where I am enrolled in the STEM Academy for Biomedical Sciences. Although my classes focus on preparing me for a medical career, my favorite classes are French and History. Outside of school, I am heavily involved in my Boy Scout Troop, my Church, and my Varsity Rowing. I have always been interested in various things, some of my favorite things are cooking, practicing music, discovering different cultures, trying new things, and now exploring the world... So, I am beyond stoked to be spending my senior year in France, representing district 6900 in Georgia for the first time. I can't wait to see what is in store for me on exchange and look forward to becoming bilingual, bicultural, making new friends, and creating worldwide connections. I would like to thank my friends, family, and teachers for supporting me along this journey and of course my biggest thanks to all of Rotary for making this once in a lifetime dream come true. Merci, à plus tard!

Meeting my best friends ever from Australia and New Zealand

Meeting my best friends ever from Australia and New Zealand

One of the 3 Châteaus I’ve visited since arriving

One of the 3 Châteaus I’ve visited since arriving

Riom, my little town

Riom, my little town

Arrival at Clermont-Ferrand

Arrival at Clermont-Ferrand

Orientation at Chambon-sur-lac

Orientation at Chambon-sur-lac

Haircut done myself

Haircut done myself

Mont St Michel (MSM)

Mont St Michel (MSM)

Mont St Michel (MSM)

Mont St Michel (MSM)

Mont St Michel (MSM)

Mont St Michel (MSM)

The first snow of the season

The first snow of the season

Cooking Mexican with my Aussie and Kiwi best friends

Cooking Mexican with my Aussie and Kiwi best friends

Trying escargots. I love them.

Trying escargots. I love them.

Selling Pineapples and Oysters at the Christmas Market with my Rotary Club

Selling Pineapples and Oysters at the Christmas Market with my Rotary Club

Banner exchange with the Governor

Banner exchange with the Governor

At the Arc-de-Triomphe in Paris

At the Arc-de-Triomphe in Paris

Making a knife in Thiers

Making a knife in Thiers

Selling pineapples with Rotary at the Christmas Market

Selling pineapples with Rotary at the Christmas Market

Day in la ville rose: Toulouse

Day in la ville rose: Toulouse

Summiting the Puy-de-Dome

Summiting the Puy-de-Dome

Journals: Granger-France Blog 2017-18

  • Granger, Outbound to France

    PrS. (I don’t know of that's a thing but like a pre-script and not a post-script) I’m really sorry this is coming a little bit late; I got caught up with the holidays here and then j’avais trop la flemme (the best translation I can give for this is I was temporarily too lazy).

    Second, after reading through my last post, I realized how many mistakes there were in my English; sorry if it was difficult to read.

    I want to start with some of the good things of my exchange that happened before I got sick. One Saturday morning, my host brother and I summited the Puy-de-Dome -the tallest and most known dormant volcano in our area (and France)- for sunrise. It was a gorgeous sunrise, and I could see as far as the tip of Mont Blanc. With the exception of about 4 or 5 other people, we were all alone on the mountain, a nice contrast from its typical touristy aura.

    Also, my friend Grace from New Zealand, who lives in Brive-la-Gaillarde, came up to Clermont and stayed at Jasmine’s (my Australian friend) a couple of days and at mine one. When they came to stay at mine, we made a big Mexican fiesta. We had all been craving something spicy, since the French don’t really eat anything at all spicy.

    My oldies: (left to right) Jasmine-Australia, Cati-Argentina, Grace-New Zealand

    After that is where Part 1 of this post picks up. So now I’ll skip to after.

    After going back to school, I had a week left with my first host family. That week things got a little better with them and we ended on a good note. The morning I switched I made them a grand American brunch with pancakes, egg casserole, grits, fruit salade, bacon, and toast. I then proceeded to pack my bags.. which weighed 330 lbs. Let’s just say I’m going to have a hard time finding room to bring all that home.

    So I’ve switched host families and already I can tell that I’m loving here. I understand why Rotary tries to put you in 3 different families, and its really great that they do. For me, my first host family, while we didn’t really have too many problems they were necessarily the best fit, or what I had imagined what living in France would be like. With that said, I still tried to make the best of it, and I learned some things with them. I haven’t been here long but I can already tell this family is going to be a lot better fit, and fulfill some of the expectations and hopes I had for living in France.Banner Exchange with District Governor

    My current host family through me a little birthday party with all 3 of my host families, counselor and Raquel (a Mexican exchange student who is in my town and school and who’s 3rd host family is my current). And for the actual night of my birthday we went out to a local little restaurant and got to try some local specialties. I also got to pop in at the Christmas market in my town where my Rotary club had a booth selling pineapples and oysters to raise money for a couple charities. The following day I helped volunteer at the booth, where I got to know and came closer with Rotarians in my club, and then saw our local orchestra perform in our little beautiful theatre in Châtel-Guyon.Christmas Market Booth: Counselor’s Husband (left) and Current Host Dad (right)

    My Rotary Club gave me a neat gift for my birthday. I went and made my own Thiers knife at the factory in Thiers France, the renowned cutlery capital of France, and the world for professional Chef’s knives. It was something I’ll remember more than just the knife itself and the experience was certainly an interesting one.

    So when I changed host families I also changed towns, even though they’re neighboring and not that far apart. Initially when doing my research for France, I couldn’t find any information on it besides that it was small with only about 6000 people. I thought I would like my first town though because its had more than 3 times that many inhabitants. However I find that here in Châtel, it’s a lot prettier and much more lively. Which I’m going to love when spring and summer come. The town itself is a hot springs town, there are several sources, and even a hall with natural heated pools that attract lots of tourists. Where also one of the limited towns in France to have a Casino, which also features a room which puts on shows similar to the Moulin Rouge in Paris. This year one of the largest bike races in France the Paris-Nice makes 1 of its 12 stops in Chatel, (and though not always, usually gives hints at the course for the next years Tour-de-France).

    I’ve also had the opportunity to spend Christmas in the French fashion. We went to my host grandparents town in Allier (about 1.5 hrs north) for Christmas. There we stayed with cousins in my dad’s parents’ house. They great part is my mom’s mom lives just down the street so we celebrate Christmas together with both sides of the family going. Boy did I eat traditionally, and buy did I eat good.

    Christmas Eve Dinner (9 or 10 courses- depending how you count):

    –Apéro, or formally, Aperitif in French are appetizers and usually a white wine or Champagne

    –Entrée 1, not an American entree, which is the plat in French, but a French first course of oysters

    –Entrée 2, Foie-gras (duck liver pâté in English even though any French person will tell you its not a pâté)

    –Entrée 3, Smoked salmon

    –Plat, main course consisting of baked chicken, potatoes and carrots, and roasted chestnuts

    –Fromage, the cheese course

    –Salade, the salade course

    –Dessert 1, rolled pastries and sweet typical French desserts

    –Dessert 2, fruit salad

    –Café et Chocolat, pretty sure you can figure this one out

    The next day for Christmas Lunch we had a similarly large meal as well consisting of many of the same items, this time featuring Wild boar as the main course, and an incredible 46 year old Bourgogne. But speaking of food, I love French food so much, cheese is even growing on me. So to answer some questions about typical French foods and my reactions to them. Escargots: love them. Bread: oh God its so good here. Foie-Gras: good in moderation and special occasion. Pâté: beef only. Charcuterie: everything but Jambon cru, or cured ham, but especially saucisson, or pepperoni in English, one of the world best comes from a department just south of mine. Pastries: anything and everything. Frog legs: havent had the chance to try it but look forward to it. Tar-Tar: not really my cup of tea, I prefer my beef cooked. Fromage: I don’t care for the most common type in my region (St. Nectaire) but like Gruyère/Emmental, Comté, Cantal, fromage a tartiner, and others that I cant necessarily find in my region, oh and Raclette… ah Raclette.

    After Christmas one of the other outbound from Florida who lives in Antibes (in between Nice and Cannes) came up to visit me for a couple of days. We had fun but most importantly she now has to invite me down to come visit her in the French Riviera… I spent New Years with Jasmine at her house in a little town of Gannat, which was a great end of the year. (Until the last minute of 2017 when I dropped my 3 day old brand new iPhone 8+ and cracked the screen. But I guess that’s my fault because I declined to buy protection, even though the guy at the Apple Store selling it to me asked if I was sure I didn’t want to buy a case or something for it 3 times…) I then spent a couple more days with some cousins at my grandparents house, and even had a chance to do a day trip into Bourges, perhaps on of my favorite cities in France.Bourges Cathedral

    Bref (all in all) after recovering from mono, I started having a great time on exchange. While for most exchange students the holidays are the hardest part of exchange, I was really alright. My low was Thanksgiving and since them I’ve been just rapidly improving and loving exchange. Sure Christmas was different, there were new traditions I dis ouvertes and France and certainly old one I missed somewhat from back home but its been great. Having a loving, caring host family has made it great, and I look forward to where the rest of my exchange leads.

    À Bientôt

    Click HERE to read more about Granger and all his blogs

  • Granger, Outbound to France

    So it’s been a while since the last time I posted, so I to not make this super long, I’m going to split it into 2 parts. The struggles of the last monts and the great things that happened. This is the more somber one, so make sure you read all the great things that happened right after this.

    So it has been a little over 100 days in France and its hard to believe how fast time flies. The last month has been an interesting one for sure. Shortly after my last time writing, I felt really inspired and wanted to change lots of habits to learn French faster. I went off of social media until Christmas. (Didn’t fully last, but I explain that later) I decided I should try to think all the time in French, should go back to the basics and use flash cards to help me retain all the new vocab I was learning, and some other things too. And it worked to some extent, nearly a week or two later I found myself hitting a major milestone that all exchange students desperately want to hit: I DREAMED IN FRENCH. I felt so accomplished and was really at a high in my exchange, happy with living in France and not wanting to go back to the States.

    Unfortunately this began to decline after another week or two. I came down with something. At first, I just thought it was a little sore throat, maybe strep. I was fairly tired from the sickness and thus spent a good amount of time in my room. I started retracting from my family and came down with a bit of blues. It wasn’t too serious but completely normal. Around 3 months is certainly the hardest time of exchange; it’s when homesickness is the greatest. My host family and counselor tried to help me by doing exactly what they should’ve done: keep me busy and don’t give me the time to stay in my room and relax. However, I wasn’t just homesick. I was sick sick. After several doctors appointment, and a couple failed antibiotics, I was nearing my 3rd week of feeling sick still without anything helping me.

    Thanksgiving was hard.

    After waking up still feeling terrible, asking my host mother to stay home from school, we got into a fight before 8 in the morning. The result: I ended up going to school. After my second class I couldn’t handle it anymore and went to the nurse to ask to go home. After she took my temperature and saw even with ibuprofen it was still fairly high, she recommended I go home and called my counselor.

    Here was the climax of some tension with my counselor and host family. My counselor forbid the nurse from letting me go home, stating that she believed I was not as sick as I really was. That I was capable of going to class, and was trying to get out of it because I was homesick. The truth was until that moment, I wasn’t super homesick, maybe slightly just wishing I could have a Thanksgiving meal but not wanting to go home. But when I heard that; when I learned I had to spend the next 6 hours in the infirmary, until the school day was over, and I could finally go home, I hit an all time low. I was at that moment when I was ready to get on a plane to return home. There was nothing more that I wanted than to be in my bed or eating a Thanksgiving meal (even if it was mashed potatoes because I couldn’t swallow anything).

    Saturday, came my saving grace. I had a blood test in the morning and then helped volunteer with Rotary for 4 hours until 2. (Quick side note, I feel terrible about this now. But then, I have never before wanted to turn down helping the needy. In this case volunteering collecting food for a food bank. But in that moment there was nothing more I wanted to do than not be there.)When I got home, the results of my blood test were back. Certainly not great news, but I was overjoyed to hear it. I was positive for mononucleosis.

    Finally after reading the results and 2 separate doctors recommendations, my conflict with my family and counselor was over. But here came a little bit new set of weaknesses. When I was at home for the next week. I was bored, so I redownloaded some social media to talk with my friends back home. I also binged a lot of Netflix. 5 full seasons of “Suits” to be exact. So practically, until my family got home at 7ish. I was speaking or listening or thinking in English the entire day. The result was when I returned back to school the next week. I noticed I was not on that same upward course of improving my French, that I had started before I was sick. There are many things about learning other languages, but two things that dont work are: trying to mix the two together and switch between French and English quickly and taking a 10-12 day break of living in French at a crucial time of the learning process: 3 months in. A week after returning to school, it was time to switch host families.

    Another change that brings many of it own difficulties with it.

    Perhaps one of the hardest things though for me during this time period, was comparing myself to the other exchange students. For me the only interesting thing I had done since last time was invite Grace and Jasmine. My two Aussie and Kiwi best friends over for a weekend. I watched as other outbound from Florida or other inbounds in my district where heading off to there host family’s Alp chalet. Or going to Geneva and the Rotary Peace Conference at the UN. Or Paris, or Sweden, or Prague, or Bordeaux. These incredible places or if not travelling, at least doing something great in there awesome towns each weekend. Or even things like having a great host family and feeling like a family with them.

    I began to start to regret exchange. Why was I stuck in a small town with nothing to do? But then I remembered oh yeah, I asked for it. And then I was mad at Rotary for sending me to France, a country I originally had on my dont go list, but reluctantly put after I wasn’t able to go to any of my first choices. I started making excuses and excuses for why my exchange was going terrible and and everyone else’s seemed perfect and dreamy. I did just about everything I was told not to do: compare your exchange to others, withdraw to your room.

    Fortunately after starting to feel a little better and a dinner with my second host family, a week before I moved to them, I started realizing that I was at the low in my exchange. The so called 3-month slump. All the signs were clear, the timing was about right and I knew this was going to happen (even if for a while I thought I was above that, like I knew it would happen to others but not me). It was accepting I was there that was hard. But once I did, I was able to stop doing the things to keep digging that hole and start minimizing the hard times and work towards another high in my exchange.

    So that’s what Part 2 of this blog is about, make sure to check it out to see how things are going now.

    Click HERE to read more about Granger and all his blogs

  • Granger, Outbound to France

    Today is my second month in France, and while the past month has been one of plenty of adventures, and its ups and downs I wanted to just briefly touch this. At the start of the month I went with my district and about half of the other ones in France to Mont-St.-Michel, an ancient monastery and little village on top of a rock island in the English Channel off the coast of Brittany. Words cannot do it justice, all I can say is look at the fairytale like pictures on my page to start to understand. Also getting to meet hundreds of other exchange students was fun and it was a great time to get PINS PINS PINS!

    The weekend after I went and visited a couple of exchange friends in Brive-la-Gaillard. To future exchange students, you’ll soon find that the other English speakers, Canadians, Aussies, and Kiwis particularly will become some of your greatest friends on the planet. You don't even have to spend a whole lot of time with them on exchange to form deep inseparable bonds. It also gives you an excuse to go visit your friends all over the world after exchange. (One quick note I’d suggest, while it’s incredibly easy to make friends with exchangies, also make sure you spend the majority of your time making friends with those of your host country)

    The next weekend began my first break “Vacances de Toussaint” I have to admit 2 week long breaks here roughly every 6 weeks of school are much appreciated. They are also much needed because French school is a lot. I have a schedule with one of the least amounts of courses and I still take 4 hours more of courses than I did in the States. (For others they go to school from 8-6 almost everyday.) But more on the vast thing called “école” another time.

    For a couple of days during break my family went on vacation to see some natural wonders in the south central part of France. I’ll let the pictures do the talking for the beauty of nature and small villages in France.

    One main thing I wanted to talk about was how I view one aspect of exchange. There are plenty, perhaps infinitely many reasons why to go on exchange but one that really struck me recently was the concept that exchange is a what I like to consider the ultimate stage and transformation into adulthood. Although we as humans are constantly learning, if we simply break our education into two parts we have childhood and adulthood. In between, there is an awkward phase known as adolescence. While many people view this as a horrible phase filled with acne and plenty of awkward moments, it is in fact an incredibly crucial phase in our development. I believe exchange is one of, if not the best way to truly shape teens and tailor them into amazing adults that they want to be.

    I’ll admit one of the big reasons I came on exchange was to explore a sense of independency, I so desperately desired. And what I found was that exchange is independency and also at the same time not. It’s breaking away from the family, school, and life where you grew up as a child, but at the same time its not the independency of a true adult. On exchange you’re still going to school and have a family and Rotary who are responsible for you. And this entirely unique environment that’s created is incredibly formative for exchange students, if they want it to be.

    I’ll use what happened this morning as an example. I had my first dispute with my host mom. It was about me wanting to do something last minute. In the states I would have been able to do, but here in France it required permission from Rotary to ensure my wellbeing. The only thing is if I were to wait for Rotary’s permission I would have missed to opportunity. And while I know that I would be fine and nothing bad would happen, it was the concept that Rotary and my host parents were responsible for me that caused me not to be able to go. Now had something like this happened back home, I would have been upset, even angry with my parents for not letting me go. And a situation like this wouldn't have arisen in the adult world, because no parent would be telling em what I can and cant do. But in this environment on exchange, I knew I couldn’t be mad with my host mother. I could clearly see she only had my safety at heart and was following protocol. Plus would getting mad with her help me on my exchange or if another similar situation arises? So what was I left to do? I used it as an opportunity to learn, to think of what I would do if something happened like this as an adult. Sure I might not have a parent telling me what I can or can’t do, but there are plenty of things in the world that our out of our hands; that we can’t control. Instead of the natural human instinct to be angry and mad or even hate the person or thing preventing us from doing something, I had the ability to work and develop a beneficial response to scenarios like that. I turned it in to a good thing, was happy, and learned from it, instead of the opposite. And before long that will hopefully become second nature.

    Exchange allows you to respond, develop, and practice those skills you learned from school, organizations, culture, and even Rotary Orientations in a real life situation. Until now all the things I had learned, I’ve only really gotten a chance to practice in made up controlled scenarios. When you learn something you tend to practice it right after and you know how to respond. But the correct response never becomes second nature. On exchange you are challenged with those same scenarios often times, but at completely random times when you’re not expecting it. Our nature is to respond with our instinct when were caught of guard and not with maybe a better practice that we’ve been taught. Exchange fosters us to make those best practices second nature and thus make us better adults and humans searching for a better world.

    I’ll give a couple other examples. The smartest and most successful people say listening is perhaps the best skill you can develop. You want to learn how to listen? Well when your learning a new language you always understand the language before your able to speak it. When your forced to listen, because you can’t respond yet, you develop this ability to listen to others.

    Or another one. When I desperately needed a haircut (and usually do once a month) but my host parents told me it was my responsibility to pay. I also found out that haircuts were about 20 euros more than my monthly allowance from Rotary. So I was forced to think what’s a way I can solve this? Maybe spend 20 euros on a hair clipper and cut my hair myself? I was a little nervous but it turned out great (see pictures). Not only were the problem solving skills used but doing things that are out of my comfort zone allow me to stretch and extend my comfort zone constantly. With more things I’m comfortable with I’m wont have as many problems trying different things and being flexible as an adult.

    The vast majority of those who don’t go on exchange, are left to the change between childhood and adulthood when they move out of home and go to college. They never really get the chance to test out skills in a safe environment with parents but also with out your real ones, who your to comfortable with and know how they will respond. This unique environment creates incredible people who are truly changing the world and making strides towards peace.

    Rotary’s goal in sending students on exchange is to foster world peace, and I couldn’t truly explain how well it works. I’m reminded of a metaphor for World Peace I like to use. Imagine the earth with a big chain and padlock on it. If we can unlock the lock we would have world peace. Well if you can imagine a chain and lock on the earth, it probably has to be massive. And if the lock’s massive the key must be too. The key to peace is not small or hidden away, we know where it is. It’s big and right in front of us. The key to peace is not some mysterious recipe that’s extremely elaborate that we have to do just right to achieve world peace. Its quite simple to achieve world peace we just need to understand others, to listen, and love them without reserve because of difference in thought or culture. So why don’t we already have world peace? Because we need every person on the planet to lift up that big key and turn it.

    That’s the challenge. Trying to get people to actually practice those principals. Not just saying they’re practicing them but actually practice them. To the point where it’s second nature.

    That’s what exchange allows.

    So if your interested in exchange, know that you would be joining a family of teens (of course having fun and doing millions of things) but working to bring peace among the world. If your a current exchange student, don’t let yourself get down. Keep focused on using all of your challenges as learning experiences; it’s not going to come passively. And to the Rotarians and parents, know us exchange students are doing incredible things so let us do them, but please please also challenge, test us, keep us on our feet to improve. Wow, what an incredible program to be a part of!

    À tout à l’heure

    Click HERE to read more about Granger and all his blogs

  • Granger, Outbound to France

    Click HERE to read ore about Granger and all his blogs

    Time is flying, wow it doesn't feel like I've been here for a month today. I've done so much but here's just a brief rundown that’s happened in the last 3 weeks.

    * Made my family dinner (lemon garlic grilled chicken, potatoes de Provence, French green beans, and an apple tart... not very American... but they think its is)

    * Got sick (not because of my food)

    * Broke my toe

    * Visited Châtel-Guyon

    * Saw another Château

    * Tried Archery

    * Tried Fencing

    * Visited Clermont-Ferrand

    * Ate my first French crêpe

    * Ate at my first French restaurant (it was a burger place)

    * Had my first "French" fries (there better)

    * Made friends with most of my classsmates

    * Took my first train (very confused at first)

    * Went shopping in Clermont-Ferrand with Jasmine (my Aussie friend)

    * Failed my first English assignment (2/20 but I had to write in French)

    * Improved on my second getting 16/20, still writing in French)

    * Took my first History test (didn't understand a thing that was going on so different from the States)

    * Started new “good” habits

    * Fallen in love with fromage blanc (like yogurt but better) and every type of french bread especially brioche and pain au chocolats

    * Watched my first French movie and understood a good majority of it

    * Become familiar with my daily routine

    * Answered about 100 questions for my History teacher about America's Involvement in WW2

    * Explained the US's Higher Education System, Court System, stance on Global Warming and the Paris Accords, and foreign policy on North Korea (in French)

    * Become conversive in French (not fluent yet but making strides each day)

    * Learned to make La Madeleines and crêpes (another thing I've fallen in love with)

    * Took my first History and Math tests

    * Went on my first camping trip with Scouting in France

    * Had my first French Pique-Nique (picnic)

    * Attempted my first Philosophical Dissertation, did not go well...

    * Made dinner for my host family again

    * Learned the heavy cream here is different and thus ruined my desert I was trying to make

    * Went to the park with my class

    Last time wrote, I was experiencing my first culture shock. While I still am shocked at some new things from time to time, I bounce back quicker. I'm in my daily function now and at least besides the language, I feel for the most part French.

    One thing I said I’ve started doing it “good habits.” Because exchange was such an abrupt change in my life, it was really easy to start getting in the habit of doing good things. You know keeping my from clean, actually flossing everyday, taking vitamins daily(**Exchange student tip, you need to do this one the change in food messes about you body’s normal levels of certain vitamins and causes a lot of exchange students to get sick within the first couple weeks. But you can prevent it). But no in all seriousness (in addition to those things) some of the big ones I do now are: write down every French word I dont understand and look up the definition later; take notes on observations I’ve made on the French culture and people, and take notes on the things I like in each culture to help me blend the two and develop my personal philosophy. I also plan out my time better now and have created checklists of things I need to do and set time limits for when to get them done.

    Exchange student tip-

    //**To the future exchange students I would suggest making a list of good habits you want to start and start doing them as soon as you arrive. Also I would get two journals. One to write the activities you did each day and the development of your feelings towards the things that happened, like a diary. Then the other to write things such as checklists to do, fun facts about your town, recipes you’ve learned, cultural observations you’ve made, vocab words you’ve learned. and you philosophical thoughts on various topics. The first one helps you have a reference to what you did when where as the second can be messy and is just a written collection of you thoughts throughout the year. I take my second one with me everywhere and am constantly writing in it.**

    Now that I’m feeling more and more comfortable with the culture and the language, I’ve started to try to direct my attention on helping others. One of the major ways is answering the plentiful questions I get from my teachers, especially my English and History ones. I translate things for people when I can, and I’ve started helping others understand dans study for math. (Although I in senior year here, the curriculum is roughly the same as my freshman year curriculum back home, but more on this later.. look out for a blog on French schools next weekend.) I make diner roughly once a week for my family and introduce them to American cuisine. Last night I made a favorite of mine: meatloaf with mashed potatoes and peas, my host mom and sister loved it so much they want me to make it again when my whole family is here.

    I just found out that I will be going to do fencing every Wednesday. And on the subject of exercise. I ride my bike about twice a week to school. It’s 15 minutes each way and I get to see the city. I also sometimes walk home if the next bus will arrive in more than 30 minutes.

    I guess that feeds into my first month. Today is one month since I’ve arrived in France and overall it’s been great. Sure there have been a couple down moments but for the most part there great. It’s not exactly how I imagined it being when I arrived. I was expecting I guess a more hyped up honeymoon period. Sometimes It doesn’t feel any different than home like home but jut 4500 miles away. Before I left I set some goals of things I wanted to accomplish. Now I’m realizing its time I have to start working on accomplishing them, and with that I keep getting motivated to do more and more each day. But at the same time the enjoying life, and the French no rush attitude is starting to sink in; I’m looking for a happy medium. I’ve also added some new goals of things I want to accomplish while I’m here. Mainly, by the end of the year holding a presentation of America vs French Culture, among other things, for the community.

    I’ve contacted back home a couple of times and although some of my friends have started becoming homesick, I haven’t felt the slightest bit of it yet. (Family and friends back home this isn’t against you, I still love you and miss you, but just not homesick.) Also, I’ve found balance with my friends, I still occasionally say hi to my friends back home and hang out with the exchange students every now and then (shout out to my Aussie and Kiwi) but they’re really not distracting me from making French friends. I feel like my class is very accepting to me and although I wouldn’t say I’m best friends with them yet, I friends with most of them and am seeping our relationship everyday.

    For now though enjoy some picture of Clermont-Ferrand from to weekends ago and look for some great ones to come. Next weekend I’m off to Mont St. Michel and the Brive-la-Gaillarde the following one. I’m also finally getting to meet my Rotary Club next Tuesday, so I look forward to getting to know them and helping out on their projects.

    À bientôt


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