Sabrina, Outbound to France

Well, welcome to my first Rotary Journal.

I’ve been in France for nearly 3 months and it has been by far the best three months of my life, but there were some hard times as well. Let’s start from the beginning, I arrived at Charles de Gaulle Airport on August 27th, 2019. There I was welcomed by my first and second host family as well as many other Rotarians and Inbounds. It was funny how all the inbounds got there together and were all equally as tired and lost from all the traveling and French speaking. Immediately as I got there I went to this awesome Creperie (basically just a restaurant that specializes in Crepes) and then I had time to get settled at my new home in a small city called Pontpoint (It’s at 60km north of Paris). The next day the other inbound who’s in my City, Zoe from Argentina, and I went to a nearby city names Compiegne and got to visit this beautiful garden next to a castle. That weekend was Integration Camp and I got to meet all of the other inbounds in my district, we are 25. Everyone got along so well and it’s amazing to see how even if we don’t all speak the same language and have the same experiences, we still understand each other and try our best to communicate with one another. I love my district.

The first day of school came right after on September 1st and wow it was so scary. Having Zoe there with me definitely made it easier, however, I was put in Seconde, which is 10th grade here, which means I’m with people who are a bit younger than me and even though the difference isn’t much, sometimes I do feel that they can be extremely immature. School if very different, every day the number of classes and what classes we have changed, we get to leave the school during lunches and breaks, and if the teacher is not there we get to just leave, substitute teachers are not a thing here. On most days my school day goes from 9 am to 4:30 pm, but sometimes I start at 8 am or even end as late as 5:30 pm. On Wednesdays, I leave at 1 pm, which is very nice.

Here are some things I have found different about France (With my family at least) compared to what I’m used to so far:

- Always have bread at meals. And cheese too;

- They mostly eat food planted on their gardens;

- Eat all meals together, as a family;

- They leave the water outside on the kitchen table so that it’s

room temperature;

- Recycling is a big thing here;

- They have these fruit-flavored syrups that they put in the

water so that it has flavor;

- The toilet bowls are awkwardly very deep;

- No water fountains at school, people drink from the sinks;

- School lunch is mostly very healthy and well prepared;

- Everyone has the same 4-colored Bic pen, it’s funny;

- In school everyone wears their backpacks high up on their

backs;

- In small villages, people walk in the middle of the street.

After the first month, I had a Forum des Pays, there the other inbounds and I got to present our countries to the future outbounds. It was nice getting to see all the inbounds again, I feel like at this point we are all like a big family, these are my people and I love them all. My district tries to organize things at least once a month so that we can all see each other. And at the end of October, we had our first Bus Trip. We got to visit the Mont Saint-Michel which is an Island and commune in Normandy, France. There we joined four other districts and we even got to have a Halloween Party!

So far the exchange has been a roller coaster of emotions and while I've had a lot of good times, and some bad times as well. At school sometimes kids can be a little mean, especially after they get used to you. In my case, I’ve succeeded in making many French friends but sometimes they'll make fun of my accent or comment on something about how I look “as a joke”. The French are also very sarcastic and even though most times they don’t even notice, they can be a little rude. But overall everyone is very nice and welcoming.

Now life in France is starting to be more normal. I have made French friends at school who I speak only in French with (Students at the High Schools are really bad at English, it’s crazy), I also speak only in French to my host families and Rotarians in my club. I’m very excited for what is to come and the adventures I have yet to live.

Click HERE to read more about Sabrina and all her blogs