Wednesday, April 5, 2017

100 More Days

         This is the time where weeks start to feel like days and days start to feel like minutes. They all say the last three months go by incredibly fast, and they're right. However, I still have time here, and I am making the most of it.

         The weather is beautiful, and I am enjoying every minute. When it was snowing in my hometown in the US, I was outside in just a light sweater. The tennis courts are repaired now, so as soon as possible, I will be more than extremely happy to use my racquet again.

         I am also enjoying doing spending lots of time with my friends now, especially since the big project they were all doing is over. My friends and I finished class earlier last Thursday, so instead of going home, we stuck together and went to the park. We ate snacks, played with snails, and just had a good time. Today after school, two of my AFS friends joined my host parents and me for lunch, and I spent the afternoon with them. One came to my house and let's just say we had a "reflection time" of our experience with my host parents. Two days ago, it was one of my special friend's birthday. Besides taking part in planned events, I enjoy just working beside my classmates and spending little special moments with them. It's common for me to go out on the weekends. In fact, I often have so many invitations to do this or that with these or those friends that I have to really think about what I want to do, which is the case for this weekend.

At the park with school friends!
         For me, everything is going well with AFS. In mid-March, there was Open House at a local high school, so I went along with my host parents to present the organization. It was also an opportunity to collect AFS wristbands, pins, etc! It amazes me how many people seem to want to go abroad here. Of course, half of the people I talk to that want to go abroad want to go to the US to learn English. It is true that France is a smaller country and we were presenting at a school who hosts lots of exchange students, but sometimes I wish my home country was more open-minded.  I had lots of fun chatting with my international friends and advising those, as best I could, who want to go abroad. It's a pretty amazing feeling to talk about your experience abroad, but at the same time it's something that you can't really describe. This is coming from a person who has trouble just describing normal, everyday feelings!

        The last official AFS weekend of this year was this past weekend. I met up with an American AFSer who I have not seen in seven months, and I hardly even recognized her at first. I also met lots of French teenagers who will be going abroad very soon. Like always, there was a lot that happened, but I had two major takeaways.

        In November, at the other AFS weekend, we drew a rollercoaster to represent our experiences. Of course, everything was going so well then, so I drew a steady line on the rollercoaster to represent smooth sailing and an easy finish. Isn't it funny how life works? This time we did that activity again, and I was able to see how my rollercoaster changed.

        For another activity, we also wrote a letter to ourselves, telling ourselves of what we hope we did in France, as we will get the letter back in July. The three initial questions we were told to reflect upon during the letter were these: What did I want to accomplish in France? What did I do? What do I want to do in these last three months. Once I got home, I was able to concentrate more, so I took an additional two hours to do that activity for myself and I added a fourth column: When I Get Home. I don't think I ever realized how much I've done here until I wrote it all out. I printed out the paper and showed it to my host parents. Now it's hanging on my wall.

With my awesome host dad this past weekend!
     Spending time together with an AFS friend from Indonesia this weekend (We are always the last to leave
because our host parents help organize the events.)
          My study materials arrived for the French fluency test a few weeks ago, so I am thoroughly enjoying mself with that. The three essential parts of the test in June will be writing, listening and speaking. The presidential elections in France will take place at the end of this month, so I am staying in the loop. My French is still coming along nicely, and now I am even writing Frenglish without trying. My host mom is there to remind me when I forget how to speak English. I can listen to French music and understand now.

          School is going well, even if I am now completely and utterly lost in math class. So much for taking trigonometry in French!  I have lots of homework, as always, and I did not even mention the SATs yet. However, my French teacher today told me, "You are very motivated!" and went off about how happy she is with my work. Yesterday, my science teacher was impressed with how well I understood a concept and told me "You should be in the scientific section!" It's the little moments like this that keep you going. Needless to say, I owe a big thanks to my host parents for correcting my French errors (as late as midnight)!

          As far as events foreseen in April, there is obviously my birthday, and I am sure I will be beyond spoiled then. This weekend, I am getting together with the same AFS friends I saw today to celebrate one's eighteenth birthday. School vacation is in a week and a half! I finish school early Thursdays, which allows me a good few hours to pour into the SAT or the DELF.

         Another thing that has been on my mind a lot lately has been my return. I remember arriving here and telling myself "That day in July will never come!" It's still "far away", but it's coming. It's not that I don't want to go home, but the things that I am experiencing here cannot be replaced. There is something that seems to be magical about going abroad. Besides, I have almost everything and everyone I could wish for here. The only thing that soothes me about my return is that I really can't wait to see the joy on my parents' face when I greet them. One goal that I was reminded of this weekend, and that I've had all along, is that I don't want to leave France having any regrets. I want to do, see and learn all I can.

         Ok, since I traumatized all of you in the US with my other countdown so much, I'll humor you with this: 95 days. (Hey, that's for whoever is picking me up at the airport!)



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