Saturday, April 15, 2017

Tennis, Carnival and Vacation!

          Yesterday afternoon I was released from school for my last two weeks of school vacation in France. Of course, I will finish in June when my classmates are busy preparing for their big test, but after that, I will not return to school in France, or at least high school. I look back on each portion of school vacation, and each time there is a clear image in my head that immediately comes back.

          In October, I imagine myself sitting at the kitchen table writing my mom a letter answering all of her questions about France. Not the prettiest pictures come to mind when I think of December vacation, but I think it was a crucial part of my experience abroad. At that time, I was lying on my bed in tears in Marseille facetiming my dad saying "Dad, I miss you. I want to come home." I'm so glad I didn't. When I think of school vacation in February, I think of all the friends I have here that I was happily spending time with. If you look at it closely, I think each school vacation represents an important part of my experience: smooth sailing, the crash, and getting back up again.

         I had a good time with my AFS friends last Saturday. We went bowling and went to a café and talked. We weren't very concentrated for bowling, but we had fun anyway. In the evening, we ate an Indonesian meal in honor of my Indonesian AFS friend celebrating her 18th birthday. It was a great time for being together: my host parents, my AFS friends, and the birthday girl's family. I was completely exhausted so I didn't go out during the night.

         The next day, I went to the mountains with my host dad. No, before anyone gets excited, we were not in the Alps, but, like I've said before many times about my adventures in the mountains, "I could see them!" (Going to the Alps is a plan this vacation or in June!) I love going to the mountains here in France because that's exactly a reason why I came to France. I want to do things I can't do in the United States. On one side, it was the pretty sunny side of France, and on the other I could see the snowy peaks. We also stopped at a café with a pretty view, and I had a strawberry drink that does not exist in the United States. It was one of my best days in France.

          It was just a normal week of school, we'll say, except for yesterday. We may not have had the best concentration, but I'd say we sure deserve a break. Yesterday was the carnival. Everybody came dressed up in what they wanted. Of course there were three people dressed as Donald Trump. That's a given, right? Others came dressed as a washing machine, a clothesline, yogurt, tea, doctors, penguins, a Chinese dragon, crayons, and even a boat. Some people had costumes so big that we had to glue ourselves to the wall to let them through in the hallway. My parents told me numerous times throughout the school day "Take photos for us!" and then sat happily looking at them last evening.

         I found that the carnival was cool because everyone took part in it, or almost everyone. Even the teachers got into it! There are definitely less fun days at school in France, but when we have them, we go all out! In the US, it seemed like there were always special occasions, so students didn't participate as much, myself included.

         My friend Elsa gave me the idea of dressing up like a minion with her and another friend, so I went for it. Wednesday I was able to formally introduce my friends to my host parents, even though they already know all of them by name and nickname, as Elsa and Laurentin joined us for lunch. Then we went into town to buy all that was needed for the carnival: yellow pants, yellow shirts, and overalls.

          I have to say: One of the best feelings in the world is when your host parents know all of your friends' names and call them as you do. Laurentin becomes Laulau, Sibel becomes Sisi. There are so many little things parents do that you don't realize until you study abroad and join another family. I remember back in October when my other host dad was taking me to tennis and he was going through the names trying to find the one for my AFS friend from Russia. He listed off some from school and some from home before I had to give him a hint!

         Yesterday afternoon, after school,  I stayed with my friends instead of going home. We started playing a game but then got to talking and playing with carts that were left from the Carnival. Afterwards, we went to a park next to the school and took photos. Some people who walked by looked at us strangely, as there were Pokemeon and minions in the bushes, but that's ok. My one friend started playing his harmonica and we had to guess what song he was playing.

La Belle Vie!!!
          Tennis. I've never appreciated the sport so much. I crave to play like I crave to taste root beer. Wednesday afternoon I got out with a friend to play.  I'm happy with my game for the most part. My host dad came with his camera to take photos and videos. Apparently, he went home after dropping us off, grabbed his camera, and came back. I have to say, as soon as I see someone I know watching me, my game goes downhill. However, here, it was ok. After all, we were just hitting for fun.

Yes, the tongue does help!

           When I got home, my host dad showed me all the photos he took and then he and my host mom started commenting on my photos. Not bad for the first time in three months and without my dad by my side, but apparently I need to wait until the ball comes down more before I hit it during my serve, and I realized some other tiny errors that I made.

         This next week, I have my host sisters and my host parents with me. I'm already busy planning events with my friends, of course, You all know I can't possibly survive two weeks without seeing my school friends. I'll be studying too because the SAT test is directly after the school vacation.

85 days 


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