Dani, Outbound to France

“What does it feel like to live so far from your family and loved ones in an unknown country for a year?”Certainly, it feels like the best decision of my life to this day. I have been in France for six months so far, living each day à la française. These past few months have been incredibly amazing yet quite hectic; between changing host families, attending Rotary meetings, traveling and more-it has been a struggle keeping up with my blogs, Désolée!

For starters, I changed host families by the end of Christmas break. I was aware that at some point I’ll be switching host families, but I never expected the day would actually come. However, all my fears went away as soon as arrived in my second host family, the Chanclou. I went from being a single child with my first host family to having a full house with two younger siblings: Gaspard(11) and Gregoire(16). It’s a different family dynamic that I love; I can just go down the hall to bother my host siblings, play board games or just take my dog for a walk anytime.

Earlier in January, I had the opportunity to be part of a gastronomical experience at Guy Lassausaie’s Restaurant for my host mom’s birthday. Lassaussaie’s restaurant is a two-star Michelin restaurant, known for their twists on classic dishes and amazing cheese offerings(SO GOOD). It was delicious after all it is no secret that France is well-known for their food and Lyon for being its gastronomical capital: saucisse, pralines, cheese, baguettes, croissants and the list goes on; I feel like a modern Marie Antoinette just trying all the desserts! It won’t come to a surprise to all if I arrive in Florida with a carry-on filled with my favorites.

February arrived with an amazing surprise: a two-week winter break. I spent most of the first part in the city, hanging out with my friends and so on while the other in Normandy and Brittany with my family. My host dad grew up in Laval in the region of Pays de la Loire so we went up to visit his family for the weekend and later on throughout Normandy to check out the museums and beaches from D-Day. We started in Mont Saint-Michel-an ancient abbey, prison, and fort just off in the English Channel; the architecture was amazing plus all the history in regards to the building was so interesting. We spent the rest of the week between Caen and Bayeux visiting WW2 memorials, Omaha Beach, and respective museums. My favorite visit was the American Cemetery and Memorial off by Colville; it’s a place that I feel everyone should visit once in their life. It has a memorial filled with stories from letters exchanged between soldiers and their families, as it served to put into perspective the impact of the war. This trip served as a giant history lesson come to life and is one of my favorites so far. Normandy will always have my heart with their breezy beaches, Camembert, and cute towns!

During winter break, I also had the chance to go on a hike up the Alps with my host dad and brothers. It was a struggle for sure climbing for three hours in the middle of the snow, but the view at the top was just breathtaking! It was all covered in snow plus it was a clear, sunny day in the mountains-which made it even better. Once at the top, my host dad said something so simple yet meaningful: “you look at the mountain two different ways from the bottom and at the top once you climb it.” To all my future outbounds, the same applies to your exchange: you will have two perspectives once before leaving and another during your exchange. I remembered all the excitement and false expectations from a year ago(no, you won’t travel to Paris every weekend since your exchanger budget won’t allow it so) and how now I have a grown into a more mature, passionate individual. Exchange has been the best learning experience so far, one that I am extremely thankful for every day. The friendships made with my classmates and exchangers, the countless times getting lost on my own and all the memories made so far have a dear place in my heart. I can’t wait to see what the next four months hold in store abroad in France.

Until next time,

Bisous Bisous

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