In these journals my idea is to keep everything as real as possible. It’s 100% true that exchange is not all butterflies and rainbows, and that there are indeed a lot of struggles. Also I apologize for the errors in my English, because it does become more difficult when you don’t use it all the time.
Let’s start from the beginning, August 27th. I remember waking up super excited and not at all feeling sad about leaving. I felt ready. The hours I waited until it was time to leave for the airport took forever. Finally once we got there, saying goodbye to my parents was really hard, and it took a lot to keep from crying. Once I boarded my second flight, which was the flight to Paris, I was back to feeling like I could take on the world. Unfortunately the flight to France was the worst flight I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. It was about 9 hours of grueling sitting, and because I have problems with my tailbone, I was in pain the majority of the flight and wasn’t able to sleep at all. I had made my way around the airport without any problems and boarded my third flight to Clermont-Ferrand. When I got off the plane, my Rotary club and host family was there waiting for me. They had balloons up and signs and posters all for me. Unfortunately my suitcase didn’t show up, so we had to report it and I got it about 5 hours later. As the day drew on, the fatigue began to really hit me. I had been awake for 30+ hours and I was so tired I felt sick. Unfortunately this and many other factors lead to immediate panic. I wasn’t expecting to get here and immediately want to turn around and board the next flight back home... this feeling faded after I woke up the next day, so all was well.
With my host families, I’m only going to have two. My first, then to my second, and back to my first. Which is nice. Although, when I first got here, I didn’t like my host family, the only reason being was that I was uncomfortable and overwhelmed. This has changed and now I have a pretty good relationship with my host mom. We’re pretty good at making each other laugh, and she’s very caring. And it’s funny, because it turns out she needs me as much as I need her, because for her, I’m a distraction, and she doesn’t have to miss her daughter as much. She has someone to take to school, to go grocery shopping with, to take to about her day, etc. And so it’s nice to know that I’m needed. With my host dad, he was a bit more confusing for me to figure out, but he’s great as well. He always tries his best to include me in everything. My host parents love when I sing and play the guitar for them, which is great because I get nervous whenever I do these things.
The schools here are different. School starts at 8 and classes run until 11:40 then we have a break for lunch, and then we can go to stores until school starts back up at 14:00 classes run until 17:40 which is when we get out. On Wednesday’s, school ends at 11:40 and on Friday’s, school ends at 15:45.
My birthday was October 2nd and having this have been the only birthday I’ve ever spent away from my family it was a little hard. But when I got to school, my friends surprised me with a gift that was full of gifts based on inside jokes we had come up with. This made me very thankful for all of the relationships I had built over the past month.
We had our first inbound orientation on September 1-3. I met a bunch of great new people who at the time were just friends who I would begin to talk to quite often for the next month. We got to meet up again the first weekend in October for our first bus trip to Mont Saint Michel. When we first got on the bus on Friday, everyone was all spaced out on the bus and talking to their own small groups. After having a fantastic time with each other and the many other districts that where there during the weekend we became so much closer than we were. And by Sunday when it was time to say goodbye, everyone was super close. They feel like family.
All in all, I’m very thankful for all the experiences and adventures I’ve had so far. The good and the bad. So thanks again to Rotary for this amazing opportunity.
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