Thursday, April 20, 2017

Friends, Family, and Birthday Wishes!

            Fulfilling. That's a word I will readily use for these past few days. I've taken a break from studying and have just been relaxing and being out with friends and family.

            I was getting ready to sit down and study Monday evening when my dad offered to take me down to the tennis courts. I accepted the invitation and absolutely loved our time together. My service was not the best at first, but after I got into the groove, it started to come back, which, of course, was at the end of our little playing session. Also, my host dad had this little spin on his backhand. When I ran up to get the ball, instead of coming towards me, the ball always went the other direction. It would have been quite frustrating in a match, but all I could do in this moment was look up at my host dad and laugh with him. We must have been out at the courts for two or three hours.

            I went to Elsa's house the next day. We baked cookies and talked and then her father gave us a ride to another friend's house to play Mafia. Her father was really impressed with my ability to speak French, and then Elsa said "Yeah, I know, it's crazy!" I know I shouldn't brag about myself, but that's a huge compliment, like always! The Mafia games went well, although it's completely different here. There are so many more characters, and my friend is an expert at the game, so he adds little things and I feel like I'm back in school straining my ears to listen to every word just to have a basic understanding of what I'm doing. I even took notes, but then Elsa turned that into a paper sailboat, so that was the end of that. We had fun eating sugar that night as well.

           I also got the chance to hear my friend Maxime play his saxophone. I pleaded with him, using every excuse I could think of: "It's my birthday in two days!" "You're going to miss me in July!"His sister came to help me, and five minutes later, I got to hear him play. It's cool when I get to see parts of my friends' lives because they are all so interested in me, what I want to do in France, etc.

          Wednesday was the grand day outside with my school friends and AFS friends, etc. I organized something like it last vacation, and everybody really enjoyed it, so I did it again. I've never really been the type to organize things, and now I know why. I must have spent as much time planning this afternoon as much time as the afternoon took, but the smiles and laughter on my friends' faces quickly paid me back. I invited my Japanese AFS friend to come with us too, and my friends were so happy about that.

           It was a bit colder than we expected. I don't understand it. Why is it cold now? It was supposed to be cold last month when it was 75 degrees, not 50 degrees now! Anyway, we had fun playing a different version of soccer and volleyball because we were short on supplies and people. Then we acted like a bunch of kids and played hide and seek. Elsa played the flute for us too! Needless to say, I was very tired last night.

           Today, I have the privilege of celebrating my 17th birthday with my host family in France, which is another dream come true. I say host family, but that's just to specify that my real mom and dad are not here. My "host" family feels like my real family. However, I have an exchange student problem. If I was born at 4:45pm in the US, that means I have to wait until 10:45pm here to celebrate my birthday, right, thanks to the time zones? We might as well celebrate it tomorrow! I don't know what my host parents planned, but I know they planned something. I've been out of the house way too much lately, so they've had too much time to get something together! The letters from my mom, grandparents, and cousins hanging on the fridge will soon be opened. Also, I've already received plently of messages wishing me a happy birthday through various sources, and my American family is not even awake yet! I'm sitting here writing this update and my phone keeps lighting up. I feel so loved!

           French people really like nicknames. They'll take the most simple name "Janae" and turn it into "Jaja". My host dad was the first to do this, although my friend at school claims she did not need any outside influence to call me that. It took my host mom a little while to start calling me Jaja, but now that's even normal. (She prefers to call me her "little mess", or her "cannonball". Those who know me will understand.) I guess it started because my host family has always had students with two syllabe names or nicknames. What's more is that Jaja does not even exist as a nickname. Sure I will call my friend Maxime "Max", but Jaja?! However, I love it. Now when I hear Janae I think I'm in trouble.

           This has been a really great first week of vacation. It feels kind of weird to not have studied in three days or so because I certainly have plenty to do, but I've decided to take advantage of my time in France first. Apparently, even after studying, my scores have not gone up for the SATs, so that's a bit frustrating. Perhaps after a long break I will suddenly be able to do my math so much better.

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