Dani, Outbound to France

Mes chers amis, it has been nine months since I arrived in France. It has been an incredible learning experience, one that was never in my plans, that will soon come to an end in twenty three days as I return back home. It is surreal how fast time flies, especially these past few weeks, but I can only live each day to the fullest. These past few months have been busy all around and equally as amazing as the others; between attending Rotary events, traveling and changing host families for the last time. So, I’ve decided to make two blog posts to fully capture my emotions and souvenirs. Allez-y!

After Winter Break, March came by with a busy schedule and a couple of pleasant surprises. For starters, the beginning of a highly-anticipated season, Spring! I loved winter and all of the activities around snow: cheese raclettes, skiing and raquettes but I was excited for spring. As soon as the calendar marked March 21st, there was a change all around in between the flowers blooming and the days becoming longer; while there was no much change in the temperature(I still have to wear sweaters occasionally), it was amazing seeing a new season. Spring in Florida is meaningless besides the arrival of grasshoppers and all sorts of insects, since the weather is relatively stable year round; however, in France, it means a change of diet and lifestyle. We went from eating fondues and raclettes to salads and fruits, and my families began planning more activities outdoor: walking in les Monts d’Or, paddleboarding in la Saone, water skiing in le Rhone and so on. This change in degrees also reflected in the activities around friends! Since the days were longer, my French friends and I would hang out more after school: sharing a goûter at the park, sightseeing around the city or having a picnic. In one way or the other, the season helped me build a stronger relationship with my Frenchies and I am extremely thankful for their friendship and help all year round.

Towards the end of the month, I had a couple of excursions around my region.My school principal invited the exchange students from our school earlier in March to visit l’Abbaye de Cluny: one of the largest abbeys in the world founded in 910 by the duke of Aquitaine. However, it was significantly destroyed by the first French Revolution in 1789 and only its ruins remain today. It was a very interesting visit! Not only did we get the opportunity to see how monks lived, but also enjoy the town of Cluny- a charming village that was one of the most important capitals of the Christian community by the end of the XIth century. My host parents also took me to visit the medieval town of Perouges, about thirty minutes away from Lyon; it’s a town in the mountains, located in the department of l’Ain, that preserved its original architecture from the Middle Ages. The town and its residents have a charm from the era, all wearing costumes and engaged in their craftsmanship: welding, baking, pottery and so on. It was like a renaissance fair year-round in Perouges, and completely unexpected near a city like Lyon.

Another month, another two-week school break after Easter: Spring Break. The first half of my break, I spent it in no other than the city of love. I have dreamed of visiting Paris for as long as I can remember, ever since I was a little girl watching “Ratatouille” and “Gossip Girl;” it was a dream come true thanks to my second host mom. My host mom and I spent five days in the heart of Paris, in the Latin Quarter, visiting as much of the city as possible. We went to all the tourist attractions (as well as some local favorites): les Champs-Elysees, Eiffel Tower, le Louvre, l’Arc du Triomphe, Galeries Lafayettes, la Sorbonne, etc. While my host mom wasn’t a Parisian, she knew the city by heart and it was always a dream of her to study law school so she offered a different insight that no other tour guide could. My favorite part was a visit to a very unique art expo in the onzième arrondissement“:l'Atelier des Lumières.” It was in an abandoned factory that was renewed into a temporal exhibit of Gustav Klimt, a famous Austrian artist from the Vienna Secession modern art movement. What made it completely different from any other exhibit is that you get to truly live in it: there are projections all around the room of his most famous pieces along with pictures of Vienna and the pieces that inspired Klimt at the time, all under the melody of an Austrian waltz. This trip also brought me closer to my host mom and we got the opportunity to talk through the days of our goals, dreams, likes/dislikes and so on. As Rick said in Casablanca “,We’ll always have Paris.”

For the other half of my break, I spent it following my Lyon Bucket List. Yes, I have a bucket list with things to do before leaving this beautiful city and while some may be touristy others are silly. Here’s a look of what I have accomplished so far:

-Pretend to be a tourist and follow a random itinerary for a whole day(we even asked strangers to take group pictures of us and asked for directions, 100% worth it)

-Walk up the hill of fourviere and down la Montee de la Grand Cote

-enjoy a brioche bread with pralines in Vieux Lyon

-eat at Steak and Shake Lyon(disclaimer: I was craving a milkshake and we haven’t had a real American burger in nine months so this was necessary)

-visit the confluence of the Rhone and Saone river.

Make sure to follow part two of this blog post to stay up to date on what I’ve been doing since the end of Spring Break and how my last days living à la française have been so far.

À bientôt,

Bisous Bisous

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