Granger, Outbound to France

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Time is flying, wow it doesn't feel like I've been here for a month today. I've done so much but here's just a brief rundown that’s happened in the last 3 weeks.

* Made my family dinner (lemon garlic grilled chicken, potatoes de Provence, French green beans, and an apple tart... not very American... but they think its is)

* Got sick (not because of my food)

* Broke my toe

* Visited Châtel-Guyon

* Saw another Château

* Tried Archery

* Tried Fencing

* Visited Clermont-Ferrand

* Ate my first French crêpe

* Ate at my first French restaurant (it was a burger place)

* Had my first "French" fries (there better)

* Made friends with most of my classsmates

* Took my first train (very confused at first)

* Went shopping in Clermont-Ferrand with Jasmine (my Aussie friend)

* Failed my first English assignment (2/20 but I had to write in French)

* Improved on my second getting 16/20, still writing in French)

* Took my first History test (didn't understand a thing that was going on so different from the States)

* Started new “good” habits

* Fallen in love with fromage blanc (like yogurt but better) and every type of french bread especially brioche and pain au chocolats

* Watched my first French movie and understood a good majority of it

* Become familiar with my daily routine

* Answered about 100 questions for my History teacher about America's Involvement in WW2

* Explained the US's Higher Education System, Court System, stance on Global Warming and the Paris Accords, and foreign policy on North Korea (in French)

* Become conversive in French (not fluent yet but making strides each day)

* Learned to make La Madeleines and crêpes (another thing I've fallen in love with)

* Took my first History and Math tests

* Went on my first camping trip with Scouting in France

* Had my first French Pique-Nique (picnic)

* Attempted my first Philosophical Dissertation, did not go well...

* Made dinner for my host family again

* Learned the heavy cream here is different and thus ruined my desert I was trying to make

* Went to the park with my class

Last time wrote, I was experiencing my first culture shock. While I still am shocked at some new things from time to time, I bounce back quicker. I'm in my daily function now and at least besides the language, I feel for the most part French.

One thing I said I’ve started doing it “good habits.” Because exchange was such an abrupt change in my life, it was really easy to start getting in the habit of doing good things. You know keeping my from clean, actually flossing everyday, taking vitamins daily(**Exchange student tip, you need to do this one the change in food messes about you body’s normal levels of certain vitamins and causes a lot of exchange students to get sick within the first couple weeks. But you can prevent it). But no in all seriousness (in addition to those things) some of the big ones I do now are: write down every French word I dont understand and look up the definition later; take notes on observations I’ve made on the French culture and people, and take notes on the things I like in each culture to help me blend the two and develop my personal philosophy. I also plan out my time better now and have created checklists of things I need to do and set time limits for when to get them done.

Exchange student tip-

//**To the future exchange students I would suggest making a list of good habits you want to start and start doing them as soon as you arrive. Also I would get two journals. One to write the activities you did each day and the development of your feelings towards the things that happened, like a diary. Then the other to write things such as checklists to do, fun facts about your town, recipes you’ve learned, cultural observations you’ve made, vocab words you’ve learned. and you philosophical thoughts on various topics. The first one helps you have a reference to what you did when where as the second can be messy and is just a written collection of you thoughts throughout the year. I take my second one with me everywhere and am constantly writing in it.**

Now that I’m feeling more and more comfortable with the culture and the language, I’ve started to try to direct my attention on helping others. One of the major ways is answering the plentiful questions I get from my teachers, especially my English and History ones. I translate things for people when I can, and I’ve started helping others understand dans study for math. (Although I in senior year here, the curriculum is roughly the same as my freshman year curriculum back home, but more on this later.. look out for a blog on French schools next weekend.) I make diner roughly once a week for my family and introduce them to American cuisine. Last night I made a favorite of mine: meatloaf with mashed potatoes and peas, my host mom and sister loved it so much they want me to make it again when my whole family is here.

I just found out that I will be going to do fencing every Wednesday. And on the subject of exercise. I ride my bike about twice a week to school. It’s 15 minutes each way and I get to see the city. I also sometimes walk home if the next bus will arrive in more than 30 minutes.

I guess that feeds into my first month. Today is one month since I’ve arrived in France and overall it’s been great. Sure there have been a couple down moments but for the most part there great. It’s not exactly how I imagined it being when I arrived. I was expecting I guess a more hyped up honeymoon period. Sometimes It doesn’t feel any different than home like home but jut 4500 miles away. Before I left I set some goals of things I wanted to accomplish. Now I’m realizing its time I have to start working on accomplishing them, and with that I keep getting motivated to do more and more each day. But at the same time the enjoying life, and the French no rush attitude is starting to sink in; I’m looking for a happy medium. I’ve also added some new goals of things I want to accomplish while I’m here. Mainly, by the end of the year holding a presentation of America vs French Culture, among other things, for the community.

I’ve contacted back home a couple of times and although some of my friends have started becoming homesick, I haven’t felt the slightest bit of it yet. (Family and friends back home this isn’t against you, I still love you and miss you, but just not homesick.) Also, I’ve found balance with my friends, I still occasionally say hi to my friends back home and hang out with the exchange students every now and then (shout out to my Aussie and Kiwi) but they’re really not distracting me from making French friends. I feel like my class is very accepting to me and although I wouldn’t say I’m best friends with them yet, I friends with most of them and am seeping our relationship everyday.

For now though enjoy some picture of Clermont-Ferrand from to weekends ago and look for some great ones to come. Next weekend I’m off to Mont St. Michel and the Brive-la-Gaillarde the following one. I’m also finally getting to meet my Rotary Club next Tuesday, so I look forward to getting to know them and helping out on their projects.

À bientôt

Granger