Amelia, Outbound to France

So it’s been awhile since my last journal, however it seems like no time has passed at all! Time during exchange can feel nonexistent or incredibly taxing. I moved into my second host family on the 26th of December and it’s a lot different from living in the more rural part of the area. I’m living in an apartment for the first time ever and I only have a 10 minute walk to school rather than a 30 minute bus ride at unreliable times. I’ve always lived super close to school at home so being able to sleep in again is pretty nice. I understand A LOT more than I did in the beginning obviously but it still surprises me each day. I got to explore Lyon a little more and spent a weekend there. I walked around for three hours and still didn’t see everything. I liked seeing the mix of new architecture and old, and new ideas with old architecture. If you look up the entrance to Lyon’s Fnac you can see what I mean. Lyon has a part of the city called Vieux Lyon (old Lyon). It’s a historically preserved part of Lyon and the largest renaissance district. I love all the food carts in French cities and my favorite part of the French holiday season was the Christmas markets! I went to the one in Grenoble and the potatoes they served were so good. My personal favorite was the patataouille: a mix of potatoes and ratatouille.

As you can see in the picture: SNOW! I haven’t seen snow in 5 years and this is the most I’ve ever seen. I went sledding with my host family and it was an amazing experience. I just want to lay down in the snow on that mountain forever. I’ve finally kind of adapted to the change in temperature. It’s been in the mid 30s and high to low 40s recently and it’s beginning to feel pretty warm when it reaches 43 degrees. Not having as much responsibility when it comes to school has made it a lot easier to not only discover/rediscover hobbies, but find out more about what I like to do and dislike. It makes me realize how the stress of school can rob us of developing hobbies and healthy habits. Being on exchange has given me a lot better insight into who I am as a person and both solidified & demolished previous beliefs I had about myself and others.

Moving on from self realization, the dreaded holiday season has gone and passed. I’m not going to lie, it was a pretty difficult period. What made me feel better personally is calling my family and talking to other exchange students going through the same exact thing. I’m not incredibly proud to admit I almost spontaneously burst into tears after seeing a kid walk into my class with an LSU shirt. Sometimes emotions on exchange go haywire and it’s hard to tell what will affect you and what won’t. But that’s okay. What’s important is how you deal with it. And personally I dealt with it by having a makeup Friendsgiving with my American friends + one Lithuanian! And despite my mac n cheese being cooked with French cheeses, it tasted amazing. I spent my Christmas with three different families and concluded that French Christmas isn’t too different from American Christmas. My family back home doesn’t do huge parties but I went to a big family gathering and it was fun but exhausting at the same time. I just started up school again and it was my first week back. I’m happy to start this new chapter on exchange and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else this year!

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