Mariah, outbound to France

There's been quite a few times where I said to myself "I need to write my Rotary journal TODAY." I remember as a future outbound, I loved reading journals and I always wished the outbounds wrote more. Now I understand why some people don't have many journals. It's hard to sit yourself in front of a screen and essentially sum up your life in your host country.

In my exchange I have had some of the most difficult moments of my life and of course some of the best, I wish I could sum up everything I've done and seen and how's it all made me feel. Exchange has pushed me so much as a person and I feel like I've grown so much thanks to it. I've also changed host families... Well actually I changed in January and it's been two and a half months, I'll switch to my third and final host family in April. Changing host families was really hard for me, I had never really gotten close to my second host family beforehand so there was a few days of awkwardness and getting to know each other before we fell into a comfortable routine. The first few days in their home I had a really bad case of homesickness it wasn't for home in Florida but for my first host family (Sorry Florida family I still love you) I had gotten so close to them during the time I spent at their home and it was hard to leave them after so long.

My first host family consisted of my host sister Aude, who was 16 and turned 17 in January, little brother Guilhem, 12 who turned 13 recently, Diva the dog, the two guinea pigs and finally our parents who were 49/50 . Whereas my second host family was just my host mom and dad who are 72 and 75 and no pets. It was a big change going from a household with siblings and pets but my current host family has been very kind, I think it was a little difficult for them as well since they aren't used to having a teenager in the house anymore. Anyways it's been going well.

Now, on to my French progress. I caught on to French rather quickly. My only issue is that I have an accent when I speak. Everyone understands what I'm saying so it's not a problem but people can quickly tell them I'm a foreigner. This depends on the phrase that I'm saying, apparently what gives me away in the way I say my r's. For those of you who will be learning French one day, the only advice I can give you about r's in French is to not worry too much about how you say them, as long as you're making an effort to speak the language people will appreciate it even if you don't always say things correctly.

Other than that my Rotarian's just had a chance to really speak with me for the first time in a few months and all of them were so proud of how much progress I've made and so quickly. It was nice to receive some compliments on my language and some of them even said I didn't have a strong accent (Although I think that may have just been flattery)

I've changed classes at school and also now have a bit of a different schedule. Before I was with the 2ende (equivalent of Sophomores) and now I'm with the 1ere (equivalent of Juniors) which is a bit of a larger class so I get to meet a few more kids my age. I also give English lessons to the kids in middle school and now whenever they see me they all say "Hello!" occasionally they mix up the languages and say "Hola!" instead which is always cute.