Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Easy Beginnings

          Not all beginnings have to be hard, and the past week and a half has been a reminder of that. School has never been so enjoyable for me, even in comparison to the US, and I love my host family. That's about all it takes to make me happy in this point of my life.

         The day has finally come. I can finally  understand what in the world the French teacher is talking about in class, and I can now do what the other students do, to some extent, in many of my classes. Wow! Looking back to September, I never thought I'd say that. This weekend marks one of the first times where I have been able to accomplish the French literature homework that my French teacher asked the rest of the class to do too, with a lot of help from my host mom. School is stilll very hard, but progress is progress.

           I also quickly made some new school friends. One thing I really enjoy about France is the students don't seem as cliquish. They come up and talk to you, and they talk to just about everyone in their class, and outside their class too! I know some of them seem to be absolutely beside themselves that a real American happened to step foot into their school, so they may take extra interest in me, but in general, everybody hangs out with everybody.  My one friend tried to help me make sense of math the second day of school, a class I have not taken since June of last year. Friday I discussed the differences in the French culture with my friends, one of my favorite topics. Generally, we either study together or play cards when we don't have class.  I have never gotten so many compliments for how well I speak the French language. That means a lot, to say the least.

            The students have also been really helpful in getting me to my classes, helping me get through all the fun stuff you have to do when you are a new student arriving late from a different country, and getting me to the bus. I only messed up one time, which is when I got off at the wrong bus stop yesterday mainly because I was talking and not paying attention to where the bus was going. I have to say, the bus system is quite different here. In the US, each "yellow" bus had a specific spot to sit in when the students came out. Here, each bus parks in random order, and you don't know if it will be late. Now I have to search for my bus every night. Furthermore, depending on what time of the day I take the bus, it takes a different route, so now I have learned that when I take the bus at 5:00pm I am the first stop, and on the the 6:00pm bus, I am the third stop. You live and you learn.

Just a few of my new friends and me having fun during our break at school!

              It has also been a fantastic first week and a half with my host family. I feel at home, and I am acting like it too! From tennis conversations on life to more light-hearted discussions about who is going to win this or that match in the Australian Open, it has been a blast. We have inside jokes, and I even have a few nicknames. I am called "the sloth" for my fondness of sleeping in on the mornings, which I was given on my third day here. No one back home is surprised.

            This weekend, my host dad made it possible so that I could watch the Australian Open live. That's exactly what I did for a good bit of my weekend in my pajamas on the couch. I watched Serena vs.Venus, Roger vs. Stan and Roger vs. Rafa as well as the mens' doubles final. Sunday my host family made just as big of a deal out of the Australian Open as I did. I watched the final between Roger and Rafa all morning, then we ate lunch while watching the last set, and my host dad even taped my reaction when my favorite won his 18th Grand Slam title, which many people said he would never accomplish by the way:) Like my host sister said a few minutes before she started asking questions about how the game was played, "I like tennis because you like tennis." I even woke up my dad with a Facetime call to the US saying "Dad, he did it! Roger won his dix-huitième, I mean, eighteenth, Grand Slam title!"I like watching just about any tennis match with Roger Federer in it, but it was something special to see him lift that trophy Sunday afternoon.

              This weekend, I also made an American peanut butter dessert with my host sister and host mother with a recipe that my grandmother gave me. For me, it was a flashback to the good old days when I visited my grandparents and I always waited for when my grandmother said "Janae, do you want seconds?" I was surprised we actually found Philadelphia cream cheese in France!

            As I write this, I think of my AFS friend Kristina who just returned to Russia the other day after having completed her semester abroad in France. We were together not so long ago. Time goes so fast. For me, today marks five months down of my experience and about five months to go.If we are well on the way to building cars that drive themselves and cars that fly, as I've heard, is there not a way to stop time too?

Kristina and me




  1. i'm so glad you're having fun! it looks like you're really enjoying yourself. it's amazing that you're getting to know the french language better! <3

    1. Yeah, some days I feel like I can speak/understand much better than the others, and the language still takes much concentration and perseverance, but I enjoy it.