My temporary host mom looked at me as we sat in the train station Friday afternoon and said, "You can't keep a bird from flying." Ten minutes later, we said our goodbyes, and I was in the train for a new town and a new chapter of my AFS experience.
I arrived in my new town in the evening. About five seconds after I got off the train, I heard "Janae!" from behind me and my new host mom and I embraced with the French kisses as she said "Bienvenue!" My new host dad came up to me, shivering, said "Salut!, did the bise, and we went to my new home.
My new home is in a little village outside a bigger town, where I will take the bus to go to school. The bigger town is actually made up out of a few towns around here. My location is pretty close to the mountains, though we do not live IN the mountains. Some type of mist is always in the distance, which my host mom told me is because of the mountains. We are an hour away from Switzerland.
I have two host sisters, which I see every other weekend. My host family has already hosted before, and they are very involved in the AFS organization. I haven't met any other AFSers from this region, but my host dad has been showing me pictures, and they already set me up with an AFS volunteer who will show me around at school.
Friday night, we talked a bit, and I started unpacking, and my host mom took out a cup for my toothbrush and toothpaste and said "This is what we give to all our exchange students." I looked, and it said "DORA the Explorer!" Yep, that's what I am, an explorer.
I quickly learned that my new host family really likes America, and that's a relieving thing to know these days! They have books on the US, a poster of New York in the hallway, and my host dad just ordered an American flag. Saturday night we spent two hours talking about their trip to the United States, where they covered a good bit of the West Coast. As an American, you come here thinking you are going to learn about France, but, in reality, you learn just as much about your own country. They also said that they like America for the hugs! I thought they were joking, but I guess not. Needless to say, I've been getting my fair share of hugs lately, thanks to long goodbyes to just French people that are...different! My host family also really likes peanut butter!
|Just a happy kid in France!|
|My first time eating raclettes:)|
I feel like every time I switch families, I try a new cheese and a new bread. I made baguettes with my host mom Saturday. They turned out okay. Sunday, we had raclettes for lunch, a specialty of this region. My host mom explained that people who live in the mountains typically eat it after skiing. It's potatoes with cheese melted on top, and if you want, you can add different types of meat or you can keep that to the side. I can say that in January, after my taste buds have had time to adjust to the cheese of France, it is really really good!
Sunday afternoon, my host mom's parents came, and I talked to my host grandmother and host dad about my life in the US and showed them photos. I told the family a little bit about how I got the opportunity to study abroad in France as well. My host grandfather was watching rugby, so I tried to talk about that a little too. We all ate a yogurt dessert which I helped my host mom make.
Today, my host mom took me to my new school to enroll me, and I will start Wednesday. I am in the Science section instead of Literature, which I was in in the other school. It's a bit bigger than my other school, but I will manage. After that, we went shopping, in which she insisted on buying an outfit for me that I can play tennis in with her. Then, she bought me a French patisserie, called a Suisse, and we came home. That brings us to now.
I don't know what stage of studying abroad to call this. I feel the hardest part is over, but sometimes it still is incredibly draining. Speaking French literally takes all of my mental energy, to be able to form phrases and conjugate correctly. I am becoming more autonomous, after packing all by myself twice and finding a way to get my luggage downstairs and off the train without people I knew around. There have been definitely days I've fet alone, but I quickly learned that there is always someone around who cares in AFS world, even if you just met them a few times in person. On the contrary, maybe you haven't met them in person...yet! Life is crazy, but life is beautiful. I am so excited for these next months.