Robin, outbound to France

It’s « les vacances » in France, and I have more time, so I figured I’d do a little update on how everything’s going! Firstly, I accidentally said in my last journal that I’ve been in school for almost 3 weeks, but that’s way off, haha…to give you an idea, we have 2 weeks of vacation here in France after every 7 weeks of school, so I’ve been in school for a while! I also said I was going to French classes on Wednesday, but I meant to say Tuesday. Haha, just wanted to set a few things straight! I figured this time I’d write some of what I’ve been up to.

I’ll start with something around 2 weeks ago. My host mom and I did the craziest thing ever! At 8 o clock at night, in the pitch black, rain, and wind, we walked straight into the North Sea….I don’t think I can accurately describe this, or how cool it was. I thought we were doing some cultural activity, but I think it was more of a sport. It was insane!

First we had to wear these skin tight wet suits….when I say skin tight, I mean I could not feel my circulation. I was really concerned about this, but everyone was like, “No one can feel their circulation, it’s all good.” It was IMPOSSIBLE to get on, and probably the most uncomfortable thing I’ve ever worn. Then, there’s no better way to say this, we just walked into the ocean. It was insane.

Here it was, mid-October, freezing cold (had I not just been wearing 3 jackets, a scarf, and leggings under my pants??), raining, and pitch black, and we were about to walk into the North Sea. It felt so wrong, haha, but it was amazing. I felt like I was somehow beating the system, because here I was, playing in the ocean, and it was cold outside! I was not cold, but when the waves were high, your whole body would get wet. Well, we were neck deep in water anyway, so really, your face just got cold! I have no idea how no one drowns on this expedition, but people seem to like it! And it was amazing.

It’s a work out—I think we walked around 2 miles in the water, and it felt like trudging through muck because, obviously, it’s not natural to walk neck deep in water. (We walked parallel to the shore.) Afterwards, I swam around a little, and it was the first time I had swum since Florida! It was an incredible experience and a great memory. It was hilarious watching my host mom fall in the water! (I’m not mean, it was really funny! And she was fine, so I could laugh!) The water was black, frothy, and quite frankly looked like that scene in the 6th Harry Potter movie where Harry’s with Dumbledore trying to get the Horcrux from that cove in the ocean. (Watch it. You’ll know what I’m talking about! Black water, huge waves, etc.) But I literally felt like I was conquering nature and it was the coolest thing I’ve ever done. Honestly. If you ever hear of a sport like this, try it! And the colder the climate, the sketchier the ocean, the better! It would not be the same in the warm Gulf of Mexico!

Next, I went to Mont St Michel with the Rotary for 3 days last week! Best weekend of my life! I now have friends from all over the world, and unforgettable memories. I walked through quick sand, water, trudged through mud that felt soooo gross, and managed not to fall down. I saw one of the prettiest sights in the world, and did all of this with my best friends! One of the best memories from this was the first night there. After eating, we all stood by this cathedral at night and the exchange students from 8 districts all filled the square. Everyone was talking, everyone was friends, and here we were, in France, people I would have never ever met had it not been for Rotary, and we just hung out by this beautiful backdrop.

Also went to the American cemetery in Normandy..I had already been there with my family a few years ago, but it was a very different experience, and the weather was perfect. It is a magical and beautiful and humbling place…I felt very lucky to go again. The weekend was just so perfect, and now I have a TON of pins!

I’ve done obviously a lot more things, but I’m just writing the coolest! (In my opinion.)
Saturday I went to Lille with some of my best friends in France. We took the train (my first time!) and walked around the city together, not with any real agenda. I love my friends here. I cannot accurately describe how much I love them! And how am I supposed to go back next year, knowing we will be so far away?  But we still have much more time. I have so many good memories and stories and I realized that I can never tell them as good as I can remember them, and feel them in my heart! Like when your friend makes her train at the last second, and jumps onto the train right as it takes off, sitting on ancient church steps listening to music with people all over the world, getting lost in the narrow streets, knowing you have time to get a little lost, and then discovering beautiful parks and places you never would have found had you not gotten a little lost!

And (drumroll) yesterday I skyped my parents for the first time in 2 months! I was so happy to see them! I’m glad I didn’t skype immediately, because I feel like not talking to anyone from home for a while gave me a good start to my exchange and helped me focus only on France. It was so nice to see them, and I know I’ve changed since I left. I’m more confident in myself. I know I can do anything. I don’t know how to describe this change, but I’m more confident in my abilities. I no longer wonder if I will be capable of doing something—I know I can do it. When you’re on your own, you learn you can handle a lot more than you may think you can, and you learn that you’re a lot tougher and resilient than you would have imagined!

I’d also like to thank the Rotary…I can never thank you enough. I am living my dream in France, and none of this would have been possible without this program, and the people in it. This is an experience you need to live to understand, and it is truly a life in a year! I can never ever ever thank the Rotary enough for this life in a year—I have learned so much, and I know I have so much more to see, and there is so much more to come.
A la prochaine! Bisoussss
Robin

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