Amelia, Outbound to France

Hi, it’s been a bit over a month since I’ve come to France and everything has gone by so quick. The plane ride seemed so quick and it’s over before you know it. Through pure adrenaline and lack of sleep I managed to power through three flights and arrive in Lyon with all my luggage intact. I live in Saint Laurent du Pont, a small village in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes that’s an hour and half away from Lyon. I go to school in Voiron which is a slightly bigger city about 30 minutes away by bus. Because I live in the Alpes there are obviously A LOT of mountains. Very different in comparison to the flat states I’ve lived most of my life (Florida and Illinois). I got carsick in Florida so of course it’s 100% worse here with all the bumps and dips in the road. I’m so glad I haven’t lost my motion sickness bands yet or else I wouldn’t be able to enjoy all the amazing food here.

The school system is pretty different. The three specialty classes I chose were Earth and Life Science, Art History, and... Greek Literature and Culture. Obviously I was not in the right mind when I chose my classes in July. We all make mistakes and we can either choose to amend them or to own it. Personally I dropped the class and I no longer have to stay on Thursdays until 6 PM, but do as you wish. I have different classes each day and do my best while feeling guilty for not being able to contribute anything to class discussions and group work. A lot of the tests here are written so it’s harder for me to give a good response as opposed to a multiple choice test where I could just participate. Lunch here is longer, bigger, and higher quality but still at the same price as it is back in Florida. There isn’t a dress code here and students actually follow the no phones rule to a T.

People here don’t really speak English but I think it’s for the better. They know enough to help me learn but not too much to the point where I’m only speaking in English. I might not know a lot of French but it still shocks me when I can half understand what the teacher is saying. Despite France and the United States both being western I still had to get used to the difference in culture. Nothing too shocking though. The entrée, main course, bread and cheese, and then dessert order of meals besides breakfast was a lot to stomach at first. My host family is also a lot more active than I’m used to and on one of my first days I climbed and then promptly slipped and partially fell down a mountain. I think the the craziest thing about exchange is that literally overnight you are suddenly living an almost completely different life. Suddenly all the preparation you’ve done over the past eight/nine months is being put into use and in the blink of an eye you’re in your host country. Rotary helps prepare you the best it can but nothing can truly compare to actually experiencing it for yourself. Thank you so much Rotary for taking me on this journey. Sorry there weren’t many crazy exchange stories, hopefully my next journal entry will be more detailed! Until next time!

Click HERE to read more about Amelia and all her blogs