Carley, outbound to France

It's a dream. These last 5 months have been nothing but a dream. A dream that I never want to end. I would rather stay awake than go to sleep because reality is so much better than dreams.

It's slowly starting to sink in that this dream won't last forever and it kills me. I found my life here in France. I've found myself.

I wake up every morning just wishing I could go back to the last day because I hate the fact that waking up means another day passed by, and it's another day closer to this beautiful dream ending. This month has marked my half way mark and I honestly was just left speechless. Time has gone by so fast it's not even funny and not fair. In all honesty I don't want to come home. I feel so at home here. As if this is my real home and my home in Florida is just a stranger now. A little dark of me to say but it's so true.

Life right now is more than I could ever be greatful for. I have the greatest host families literally in the world (as I've said a million times before), I have the best Rotary Club, the greatest district, just everything and everyone here is beyond amazing. Needless to say I love school now. I have an amazing group of friends, my teachers are awesome, and I feel at peace with it.

I currently just changed to my 3rd host family. The night of my change was a little rough for me. I've become so accustom to my 2nd host family. My little siblings and my parents. I found myself so home sick from Monchel-sur Conche. But my host family now is so amazing. Within the first night I felt so at home and so welcomed. My host mom showering me with nothing but love.

With my 3rd host family, I would say I'm about 20 min. walk from my high school. So everyday I will be walking (unless my host mom can take me). Which is extremely good for me because I really need the exercise. This family is definetly a fit family. So I know I will be in some good shape. I have 2 younger brothers here and they are the cutest. My mom was the only girl in the house until I came along. So I know we will be spending a lot of time together. In one week it's winter vacation, and my family has planned a week of skiiing! Yes skiing! How cool is it to be able to say "Yeah, I went skiing in the Alps"?

I've learned that exchange is made up of constant changing and goodbyes. I've recently had to say good-bye to my newbies (the Australians/New Zealanders of my district). Which was probably one of the hardest things and I think I cried more saying goodbye to them than my family at home when I left. It's the fact that I won't know when the next time I will see them again is what makes it so emotional. But I feel that is the best way to describe exchange. One big emotional rollercoaster. As fun as roller coasters are they sure do have some major upside downs, and crazy turns. But thats what makes them so fun, right?

The holidays: I never really found myself to be upset that I'm away from home and my family. My host family had been on a constant move of family dinners. I kid you not, most of my Christmas break was made up of 95% of dinners. Needless to say I haven't lost any sort of weight. My favorite part about the dinners, is there's always something bizzare. I've tasted snails (my favorite thing in the world), duck liver (not my favorite), duck throat (also not a favorite), and just recenty nose. Yes I said it, nose. I'm pretty sure it was cow nose, I'm not really sure. But needless to say it wasn't half bad. I've learned not to ask what something is. Instead just eat it, and ask questions later. It almost seems like the French eat every part of the animal.

I've also went hunting with my host dad and little brother and sister with my Rotary Club. It was very cool and but a little sad for the rabbits and birds. I really would love to get my hunting license here, but not for the hunting of the animal. But so I can wear the cute hunting hat.

Just recently my Rotary District held a soiree exotique. Which is a fundraiser where all of the students make a dish from their home countries and we sell tickets and the money we raise goes to our Rotary trips. I made PB&J which definetly is a dish very American. Whenever I told someone it was peanut-butter and jelly on bread they gave me a face of digust.

The next day after we went to the Candian Vemy Memorial. Which was so breath taking being able to go into the trenches and hearing about everything that happened there with the war. It was beautiful but also so sad. Thinking about how I was standing on a land where over 20,000 people died.

Along with that Rotary week-end I have met all of the "newbies" of my district. I honestly was so scared that they wouldn't like us. The newbies are so amazing and I love every single one of them. But watching the newbies and how whenever someone talked to them, and they had that look of "what" and having to help them out and translate for them, reminded me so much of when I first got here.

It's amazing watching people grow into the language, including myself. Of course I still have errors, but I have come such a far way since I have first arrived. From knowing absolutely nothing, to knowing everything that's being said to me. It's just crazy to think about.

A big thank you to Rotary. For making all of this happen and for giving me the greatest year of my life. Words can't described how much this trip has changed me and opened my eyes to the beautiful world we live in. Rotary has given me more people to call my family and friends. They have given me a new home. They've given me a whole new life that I will never forget.