Dani, Outbound to France

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Two months have passed by already in France! It has been a roller coaster with various highs and lows this past month that I wanted to share. The first weekend of October, I went along with other exchangers from my school on a field trip to the region of Auvergne. It is a completely different setting from Lyon, as it is mostly rural surrounded by mountains. During our stay, we visited the Michelin museum and sampled the regional cuisine. However, the visit I enjoyed the most was the Puy du Dome- a large lava dome located in central France. It’s a natural gem, one of France’s best-kept secrets, that shares an incredible view of all the volcanoes in the area.

Next weekend, D1710 organized a presentation for all inbounds and exchange candidates in my high school. We all had the opportunity to present our country, culture, and customs to the candidates and their parents. During the picnic, you could see diversity at its finest: all the students representing their country with their flags, hats, music and so on; on one side you could see the Mexican exchangers with their sombreros and on the other side Brazilians dancing samba and funk. While we all come from different origins, we share a passion for exploring and an endless curiosity for the world.

I feel comfortable in school as I am following thoroughly my courses and developing friendships with my classmates. I didn’t want to take classes off my schedule so my days are relatively long compared to those in the USA. A nerd at heart, I began participating in class and taking quizzes just like my classmates in which I am doing surprisingly well!

Every seven weeks or so, France grants a (much needed) two-week vacation for students. The first half I spent it in one of the most interesting European capitals, Berlin, along with my senior class. We visited the Brandenburg Gate, Alexanderplatz, the Reichstag Building and so much more. During my visit, I also got the chance to meet up with another outbound from my district back home along with her friends. I had a great time catching up with her and meeting other inbounds in Berlin. It was an interesting trip filled with great memories that brought me closer to my classmates who are now my friends. The rest of my break has been well-spent hanging out with my friends, being a tourist in my own city, catching up with my friends and family and so on.

For the first time since my arrival, I had symptoms of “homesickness.” I was shopping with my host mom and we enter a home-decor store filled with Christmas decorations and I couldn’t help but wonder about my family’s traditions during the holidays. To all future exchangers, it’s fine if you miss home from time to time, however, it is important to not let those feelings overshadow your exchange. After arriving home, I talked it off with my host mom who told me it was fine and we talked about Christmas and how our traditions differ. I felt better instantly and she encouraged me to share them with my host families and friends. I am currently planning my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, for my host parents and friends! I’ll keep you posted on the next blog post on how I managed to (hopefully) find turkey and not burn my house while preparing dinner.

As November arrives, the leaves fall and the temperature drops. I’ve woken up to zero and one-degree Celsius when I usually wake up to twenty-five in South Florida. It’s funny to notice the differences and what seems normal for some just shocks others. I tell my friends how I used to go to the beach for Christmas and New Years and their eyes suddenly grow, astonished, as they are used to wearing three or four layers and sitting over the chimney. There is the beauty of exchange in the “exchanges” of opportunities, experiences, opinions and so on.I will switch my bathing suit and sunblock this year for a beanie and a sled as I head over with my family to Northern France. I am so grateful for everything that I have been able to experience these past two months abroad and I am excited to see what else the next couple of months hold.