Luke, Outbound to France

Questions, questions, questions...

Hey guys! I am going through a multitude of emotions right now, so instead of lying on my bed doing nothing, I thought that I would be a little productive and update my blog post. Just thinking about returning to the United States is sending shivers up my spine right now.

Today I just came back from my final Rotary weekend with the entirety Rotary D1780, because not everybody will be able to come to the succeeding meeting. In other words, people are leaving to get back to their respective countries, which makes me think about my return trip to the United States. I find myself getting scared of the day I get home, mostly because I don’t know or expect how to feel. At one side, I have my old friends and my family waiting to give me a heart-warming welcome, and on the other side, I have my French friends and family (including the exchange student fam!) that I will have to leave. They have made such an impact in my life that I don’t know if I can usher enough courage in order to board the return flight to the United States. I’ve made countless of French and exchange friends that I am reluctant to start saying my final goodbyes. At the Rotary meeting today, I found myself saying not “goodbyes” to my exchange friends, but instead “see you laters,” promising them that one day, I will see them again. I know I still have a little more than a month in this wonderful country, yet I am here contemplating about the return trip, when I believe I should not think about it. Questions, such as “What am I going to miss in France?” and “What do I miss from the United States?” are constantly circulating my brain. Thus, going to the inbound weekend today just reinforced the thoughts I had already had.

At the moment, I found myself looking over my past blog posts and my camera roll, to read and look over what I had done for the past months. I often wonder if I have changed over my exchange, and if so, in what kind of way. It is hard to say because it is nearly impossible to judge oneself, but one thing is certain; I have learned countless of new and important things during my exchange. From learning how to water ski to learning how to dance the Cotton Eye Joe (Which I should have known before, shame on me), exchange has been a place for new opportunities. These opportunities, such as eating different plates depending on the season, or accidentally asking my host mother to have a marriage, etc. have made me a stronger, and a culturally aware person. I’m sure that even though I am not aware of it, I am starting to think just like a French person at times. All in all, I think I will understand better the scale of how much I have changed once I return to the United States, live with my family and meet my old friends.

Exchange is a rollercoaster ride. Period. Some days are better than other days, some weeks are better than other weeks, and some months are better than other months. But one thing I am certain is that this year is not better than any of the first fifteen years of my life. Rotary Youth Exchange opened my world, and this year is definitely the best of my life so far.

Perhaps to some people like me, the hardest fact of exchange is that we are obliged to return one day... So, with the short time I have left, I will have to try to live each and every day to my fullest, in order to leave no regrets in France. I know that I must leave one day, so I will spend the most time I can with those that I will miss the most when I go back to the United States.

At this point in time, I am starting to think about the last gifts I am going to give to my host families, and the things I am going to bring back to the United States.

In all honesty, even when I have written such a solemn post, exchange is an amazing experience. I have met new people in new places and had new experiences in what was a new country. I have spent wonderful times with my friends and host families, which I will never forget in my lifetime. Not once have I regretted going on exchange, although I have been through hard moments.

With that note, I will live my exchange life to my best extent.

P.S. I feel like I am losing my knowledge of the English language.

P.P.S. I am excited to go to the Bus Trips in June!!!!!

For those who are interested to knowing what I did during March, April, and May:

Following my Bus Trips in February, I:

- Went on a strike for the environment and picked up trash in the community.

- Went skiing chez Patrick, which is in the Alps.

- Ate at a Michelin starred restaurant!

- Changed host families.

- Met a Canadian on exchange with OSEF, who was hosted by the cousin of my host brother.

- Went to do a geo-cache with my friend.

- Made a small hole in my ear drum, which resulted at the doctors office.

- Had a birthday party with my friends!

- Went to Vendée for the second time, and went to the beach, which was extremely cold.

- Turned 16!

- Toured Paris for 3 days, because the family of my host family lives there :)

- Watched the monter de l’arbre de Montségur, a tradition in my village to change a big tree in the village “castle” (This tradition is from the Middle Ages!!!)

- Dyed my hair.

- Made a Carrefour costume with my host brother out of cardboard and went to school with it.

- Went to Ardèche weekend for Inbounds.

- Volunteered at a middle school to teach English to students.

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