Dani, Outbound to France

Ever since Spring Break came to an end, I’ve felt like time is slipping away faster than any other month. These past few weeks of May and early June have been a roller coaster of mixed emotions: nostalgia for our first days, joy for my experience abroad, sadness yet curiosity to see what the future holds. Perhaps is the fact that school is almost over for all the seniors in my class, exchangers are already waving their goodbyes or simply that time is truly passing by and I can only do my best at making sure every minute counts.

Since my last blog post, I’ve changed host families once again. It was difficult to switch from my second host family since I developed a strong relationship with them, and the thought of starting with a new family scared me (especially towards the end of my exchange). I grew into the routine of my second host family: going grocery shopping with my host mom on Saturdays in the marché, playing cards and board games Sundays, taking the school bus with my host brothers and so on. While my relationship with them is one I will always remember, I have one equally as amazing with my third host family-the Massonnat. My last host family is reconstituted, meaning that both of my host parents were in a previous marriage and have now joined their lives together with their kids. I still have a full house with three host siblings: Julie (14), Jean Felix (13) and Melanie (17; currently in Argentina). I never had a sister before so it’s great having a girl right down the hall to do makeovers, fangirl over Riverdale and watch movies when bored. What I truly love the most from my third host family is the feeling of being at home, since day one. I feel comfortable talking to them about anything and we even play our French version of Carpool Karaoke with classic songs from Téléphone, Indochine and Jacques Brel. In one month, I have created amazing memories with my third host families that I’ll always cherish

Following my bucket list, I was able to scratch off going to a soccer match from the Olympique Lyonnais in the Groupama Stadium(thanks to the help from Rotary!). D1710 invited all exchange students and future outbounds in early May to see the soccer match of the OL versus Troyes. I went all out like a true lyonnaise with my t-shirt and scarf, supporting the OL along with my friends and it was a success! We scored three goals and Troyes went home with none. It was a fun memory plus it was my first time attending a soccer match, let alone one in Europe. Plus, we had a tour backstage of the stadium including the player’s lockers and press conference rooms.

On my last month, I’ve also been on the road quite a lot. My school offered the exchange students to accompany the sixth grade class on their field trip to Freiburg, Germany. We spent a day visiting town, sightseeing and taking pictures all around while we went to Europa Park on our second day. It’s a theme park, just like Epcot center, with all the European countries and even the giant ball. I was so excited to go to a theme park again! We went on the roller coasters and water rides all morning and spent the afternoon visiting the “countries.” My favorite part was probably riding the Silver Star with my friends and singing midway through the loops(I think the people in the cart with us were probably freaked out but oh well). A week later, my host family took me to the region of Ardèche, two hours south of Lyon, for a family reunion; all the family of my host dad came together for a weekend to celebrate birthdays as well as going aways. We were over twenty all together, everyone sharing their stories for the last months and their projects and it was a cute moment together with the family. We visited the region together: l’Aven d’Orgnac, la descente de l’Ardèche, Uzer and checked out the farmer’s markets in the towns nearby. L’Aven d’Orgnac is a set of caves where limestone forms and creates beautiful statues all around; those 700 steps down were absolutely worth the view. While I enjoyed the visit, my best memory from our trip was around the table. I love the importance France grants to spending time together at the table, as a family. It was great because everyone gets along to share a meal and there’s no rush to leave. Between l’Appero(earlier than an appetizer, consider it a pre-appetizer with chips and drinks), l'entrée(appetizer), le plat(main dish), le fromage, le dessert et le ‎café and soon after, le gouter-each meal could last anywhere between three to six hours and it seemed like we never left the table!

Towards the end of May, D1710 organized a “Rotary Gala” with its inbounds,outbounds and rebounds to celebrate the beginning and end of an adventure. It was prom for exchange students since girls were dressed up to their toes while guys in suits and ties; and just like prom, an evening to never forget. We took dozens of pictures and even waved our goodbyes to our friends leaving the morning after. It suddenly hit me that my exchange was coming to an end that what once were my “firsts” will become my “lasts:” last grenouilles, last bus ride, last day of school and so on.

As of today, I am enjoying my first day of summer break. This year in France, I was part of Terminale (Senior year) and just like in the States, senior year is memorable for many reasons: it is the last year of high school, last time waking up by 7AM for class, last time seeing your childhood friends together, Prom and graduation and many more. I had the chance to finish high school once again and just like a year ago, it was a wave of emotions. We spent our last days dressing up and my senior class pulled a prank monday during recess by turning the parking lot into a beach, YES NDBeach. Most students dressed up as Tacky Tourists and walked around school like it was a beach (we even had a water fight and picnic) with maps, sunscreen, Crocs and anything else you could imagine. Yesterday, we also dressed up in costumes and had a parade all around school before having a BBQ/ shaving cream fight. It reminded me a lot of my last days in Cypress Bay and it was equally a success. Monday was also our last full day of class, before final exams start, and I couldn’t help but get in the feels-What about the first time I walked in that room not knowing anyone and now leaving talking to most? I didn’t speak that well French and came to class with no supplies and now, I was leaving with a heart filled with memories of my classmates and friends.

I still have twenty two days left of my exchange, twenty two blank pages in a book coming near to an end. I can’t anticipate what the future holds,but all I can assure you is that I don’t want to regret any missed opportunities. So here it goes, to the last few weeks abroad and what the holds: Que du bonheur!

Until next time,

Bisous bisous

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