Carley, outbound to France

Tighter jeans, fatter face, welcome to my life on exchange

2 months?? Already?? Where do I start for this past month?? I've noticed such a big difference in my French. In a good way obviously, I'm understanding a lot more, still butchering my sentences but the point gets across, and still not getting used to this cold weather!!

For my French: It most definetly has come a long long way since my arrivial. I'm currently taking French lessons with a local Rotarian online, which is helping me a lot. My biggest problem with the language is no doubt the translating in my head and speaking it in the proper French grammar. If that makes sense? When I speak French, I have the English sentence my head and end up speaking they way it would be said in English. The sentences are backwards and all over the place compared to the English language. No doubt there is a love/hate relationship between the French language and the English language, in my mind.

I used to be so embarrassed to make mistakes when speaking. But I'm proud of how far I've come and I've learned to accept the fact I'm still going to make tons of mistakes with the language. Then I remind myself, "hey when I leave I'm going to be fluent". For myself, I can read French better than I can talk it. Why? Because the word sounds completely different than how they're spelled! I will be studying for a English test and think I know all of the words, than I will have one of my French friends practice with me and I would end up getting so many words wrong. Again, the French frustration. The amount of times I would listen to a conversation and think "oh my gosh. I understand. I actually understand what their saying," is probably one of the greatest/ weirdest feelings that could happen to a person, along with the rush of confidence.

There are times where I feel like I'm getting no where and I wonder, why I am here? That's when I get into these slumps and frustrated with everything. All it takes for me to get out of the slump is to read something in French, and I know what it says,and just to tell myself "you wouldn't have known what that meant 1 month ago".
Or when my host mom told me she saw a massive progression in my French, that gave me that little push to tell myself I can actually do this and it will get easier. The pride and joy I have for myself that within 2 months, I've come so far!!

Me: I'm doing beyond great! AMAZING! I love it here. I haven't found myself to be homesick..yet.. but yeah there are times I wish I could just get a hug from someone back home. Especially since hugging really isn't a thing here. That's one reason why I love Rotary weekends is because of all the hugs. But I'll get to that later.

My face is getting a lot fatter and my jeans are slowly getting tighter. Like the little rhyme I made?? "Tighter jeans, fatter face, welcome to my life on exchange". I still get super duper tired. By 9 at night my brain is completely fried and so difficult for me to understand. I still would be the first one to fall asleep, and be the last one to get up. It's not as if I don't sleep well, I'm just soooooo tired! Because I'm on the topic of sleep I have to tell you about my extremely embarrassing sleep stories.

At home I knew when I was younger that I talked in my sleep. But as I got older I haven't had anyone say anything to me about it so I just assumed I didn't do it anymore. Nope. The house I'm in echos , especially at night, and you can hear everything. My room is right above my parents to make things worst. My first night in France I guess I was crying in my sleep, and woke up to my host mom freaking out asking me if I was okay..Waking up confused I was wondering why she asked me that and the next morning I found out I was crying in my sleep. About what? I have no clue! Then I'll have my host dad ask me if I was talking with anyone last night, and I would say no? Then get extremely embarrassed at the fact I'm still actively talking in my sleep. Before I go to bed I'm completely terrified because I don't want to talk in my sleep and wake up my host parents! I would so rather be a person who snores than a sleep talker. Bringing me to my next subject:

My host family: My host family is so amazing I can't even describe! I can't believe I only have 2 weeks left with them:( What's horrible thinking about is having to start the same awkward process of moving in with a family and as soon as I get comfortable having to leave...3 more times.

My host mom and I spend a lot of time together. We are always out doing something. She's the definition of a busy bee. With this family, their son (Paul Roussel) is also doing Florida! He's in Tallahassee , that's still extremely cool to think about. And just recently found out my little host brother is going to do exchange next year to Canada.

Fun fact about my next family: My host dad is a fish breeder. How cool/weird is that???? The house is literally right next to his (I'm not sure how you would call it) but fish breeding office?? Every year tons of people come to fish and what not. It's actually very interesting! My second host mom is an eye doctor, they live 20 minutes away from the school, and unlike my current family (which I have to say I'm so grateful my mom doesn't work because she can just take me and pick me up from school whenever I need to go or end. With my next family, I will take the bus to school at 7 a.m. and stay at school til it's finished. With the bus ride being about an hour long..UGH.

School: School is school. To be bluntly honest I hate French school compared to school back home! It's long, boring, and way too complicated of a schedule.You really appreciate school events and activities at home like hoco, or pep rallys, or even dress up days more after being here where they don't even have a mascot or any school sports team! I could say that was one thing I did get homesick about. Seeing my friends and Paul dressing up for hoco week and seeing all the pictures of my friends having a good time at hoco, but then I remind myself, who cares YOU’RE IN FRANCE!

I appreciate school in Florida so much more after leaving. We can't even drink water or snack in class. At first I really tried to understand what was going on, but it was way to difficult so I kinda just gave up in school. All of my teachers are pretty nice and understand I don't understand anything. I'm in 1L which is the junior year of the literature route. I have 3 different English classes, lots of French classes, and history/geography. I'm pretty slick with my English teachers. I easily talked my first English teacher (in French) instead of doing work to watch a movie in English on my netflix. Without hesitation he said yes, so the last day before break my 2 hour English class was spent watching American Horror Stories. Needless to say my friends were pretty happy I was with them.

I make sure I'm not the smarty pants in any of my English classes. I listen and take notes just like any of the students. When I see someone struggling I help them out because I mean that’s the least I could do because they do the same for me. If anything my English class is helping me a lot with my French also. For my history and geography class (my teacher is also my Euro English teacher) he understands I don't understand anything so I got out of a 2 hour test. Speaking of tests. Tests here are 2 hours long...TWO HOURS LONG!!!! It's so ridiculous. I'm finally starting to get a hold of my completely confusing school schedule (also completely ridiculous).My host brother in Fl. said he also prefers school in Florida compared to France.

For my friends, I have a great group of friends who love helping me with my French. I don't feel like such an outcast as I felt when I first arrived. Currently I am on fall break which is 2 weeks long. It's pretty fabulous. The first week of break I went to my first football (soccer) match that I’ve watched live (the game was completely horrible but it was really cool to watch), went to Lille with my fellow exchangies where we had a grand picnic with loads of food, then spent a day in Paris with my host mom where we went to fashion and TV museums which was uber cool! Along with taking my first subway ride. How cool is that to say? “yeah the first time I rode a subway was in Paris..No big deal.”

I love Paris! The atmosphere is so amazing, even if you catch random scents of hobo urine. My 2nd part of break we went to stay with my host mom’s sister in Bretagne for 5 days. On the way there we traveled up and down the coast to see all the different beaches. It truly was magnificent. The water was so blue, and most of it was cliffs. I visited a beach where they had rocks in place of sand..How weird right? I’ve never felt so at home when I was at the beaches.

Along with the houses, ugh French houses are the cutest! Especially in Normandy, which is another place we visited on the travel down. Normandy is known for their spotted cows and adorable houses. In Normandy we visited the Omaha Beach again. Super gorgeous and the feeling was incredible. When arriving at my host mom’s sister's house I was introduced to 2 more Americans who were also doing exchange here but not with Rotary. They go to an all American school where they have French classes, along with a French class to learn French, an English and a math in English.

In the visit we also visited St. Malo, which is where all of the boats take off for a race across the Atlantic called the “Route du Rhum”. On the last day of our stay we went on this amazing walk through a local woodsy area. It the magnificent to see all of the trees with red, orange, and yellow leaves. Nothing like Florida where fall is just a season that we don’t get to experience. I wish it could stay fall all year here. The weather has been perfect and it’s just a wonderful season.

Rotary: My Rotary district (and I kid you not) is one of the greatest host districts in France. This past month I went to one of the worlds 7 wonders, Mont. St Michel. Let me tell you. One of the greatest weekends of my life. Not only do I love each and every student in my district but I met even more students from 2 other districts.

Could you imagine? A hotel filled with 3 districts of exchange students?It was amazing for us but not so much for the hotel. To think, I've been here for 2 months and the exchange students in my district I could honestly say are my bestest friends I have ever had. I love being around other exchange students. We all relate and connect about the same stuff. No one will understand the bond of exchange students unless you are an exchange student. It's completely indescribable and just amazing.

In Mont St. Michel I also met up with my other Floridian, Mariah. First day of the weekend to Mont. St Michel it was a 6 hour bus ride to the first hotel. Where before getting to the hotel we visited the Normandy Memorial and Ohmaha Beach. The feeling of being there, no words can describe. It was breathtaking and beautiful in every way and I was so proud to be an American. The 2nd day of the Rotary weekend was walking around the outside of Mont. St Michel. It was gooey, clay like mud, with this sort of trampoline sand that you can sink into. Sorta like quick sand. It was extremely awesome.

Later the 2nd day we had a Rotary dinner with all the exchange students (200 exchange students). Here every country had to sing their national anthems. Later that night Rotary threw us an awesome party with a DJ and strobe lights that lasted til 2 in the morning... 2 in the morning!!!!!! The next day having to be up at 7 in the morning, we all looked like sleep deprived zombies. But that's the fun of Rotary weekends. Having so much fun at night and not even worried about sleep because you would rather talk with everyone. Until the next morning when you wish you hadn't.

The weather on the 3rd day was horrible. Rainy, windy, and cold! That day we hiked up to Mont St. Michel and went on the inside which was completely breathe taking! After touring it for 2-3 hours we walked around to all the little boutiques and sat in cafes enjoying each others company and the fact were actually at Mont st. Michel.

Saying goodbye to the students in my district is honestly one of the most upsetting times. Now? Now I'm counting down the days til I'm reunited with my best friends at the next Rotary weekend and they're doing the same. Within an hour of everyone being home everyone was writing on our district's facebook wall talking about how much we miss each other already. The next Rotary weekend is a Expo dinner where each one of us has to make a food from our country. After that weekend then it's our Rotary Weekend to Paris! I LOVE DISTRICT 1520!!!

I'm currently in a region that's considered to have the worst weather in France. But it hasn't phased me one bit for my love of it. I love France, and Happy 2 months France and 8 more to come.