Thursday, May 25, 2017

"Normal" Days in France

             "Janae, you're going back to the United States soon, right? Did you like your time here? Will you be able to tell the Americans that it was cool?" The questions come up more and more frequently. My response is always something like "Yes, I'm going home, I mean, back soon. It was very very very "cool". I don't have the words to describe it."

             They say it's the "little things" that count in life, and the deeper into my AFS experience that I get, the more I am reminded of that truth. I have a busy month coming up in June, but before getting lost in all the extraordinary opportunities I get to live as an exchange student, it's important to treasure the little moments, the moments that I didn't and won't have in the US: going out into town with my friends when we don't have class and buying a tennis book and cookies, sitting next to my host mom on the couch as she is going through Twitter, etc.

             Some say it's the first few months of exchange that are the hardest, some say it's the holiday season, but rarely do I hear that the end is the most difficult. That very well might be the case. Knowing when to work, knowing when to spend time with my friends, and preparing myself for the United States are just a few things that are coming into perspective.

             I will pass my French fluency test in about two and a half or three weeks. I decided to take two levels, B1 and B2. Everyone is sure I will pass the B1. On the other hand, the B2 is much harder as it's college level. The four parts are Oral Comprehension, Written Comprehension, Written Production, and Oral Production. I would say the Written Production is the hardest for me. The way of writing is completely different in France, and four possibilities exist for what type of piece I will have to write. Keeping that in mind, I will have to then understand what I have to write about. I have an hour to write  my piece, which has to be around 250 words, using correct and advanced language.  That said, I have not practiced the Oral Production very much. For that, I will be given a document presenting a problem. My job will be to find what the problem is and give my opinion on it. Then I will talk with the examinator and will argue for/ defend my point of view. I might speak French well in my friends' point of view, but the pressure and language level required can change everything. The Oral and Written Comprehension will still be difficult, but maybe a little easier, I'm hoping. I will just need to work fast and be super concentrated.

              This last Saturday, my host dad got two more tattoos. Tattoos are normal for him and my French family, but they weren't normal for me before I got to France. On his left wrist, he got "Family" tattooed across with DNA bonds on the top and rope cords stretching across the bottom, representing how his natural family comes together with his family from around the world. I really appreciate that thought. He also has a world map on his calf (is that the English word?) with Wanderlust written across the top.

             At the end of the school year, I think I'm finally getting into the groove of it! Yes, I know. It's not too early. I feel pretty confident about a biology test I took the other day. My teacher said the one I took before was almost perfect, except for the fact that I didn't write an introduction and conclusion. This time, I did that. Then, after the test, I found out that I had written a similar answer to that of my friends'. I also tried my very best to use formal language in order to practice for the DELF.

           The weather has been particularly hot this week after a few rainy ones. I got out to play tennis with my friend yesterday. It's been about a year and half or two years since I played in heat like that. It made me think of the days in July when I used to play with my dad, which I really hope we will do when I get back. Despite the heat, our playing session was great. I helped my friend with her serve, we caught up with each other's lives, and we played a friendly match. I'm really happy with the fact that I don't need my dad or a tennis coach by my side to play. In the US, as soon as something wasn't working, I would run to my dad for advice. Not having that opportunity when I first got to France was difficult. I had persuaded myself that only my dad knew my game and he would be the only one I'd listen to for tennis advice. Soon, I realized, I'd have to listen to someone else, even if that someone did not have the same mother language as me. After changing regions of France, I no longer had a coach, but it felt normal to be independent, so I started putting two and two together to fix little problems in my game. I'm still nervous for when I get home. Have I lost something since I haven't played as often as my tennis teammates played this past year? Will I have time to be invested in the team my senior year?

          Last night was a very fun night, to say the least. My host dad took my friends and me to our friend's concert. Maxime had been talking about his concert for weeks before and was reminding me all this week, even after I told him, "Yes, I'm coming, and I'm bringing Sibel and Elsa too!" We had a great time. The music was very well played, and we enjoyed seeing Max play his saxophone. I was a little tired when I got home around 12:20am, but that goes for everybody!

At the concert (with Elsa and Sibel)

         I have a long weekend due to Ascension Day, which I will dedicate to my preparations for the DELF and other work. Sunday morning, Mother's Day in France, I will head back to my old region of France to see my old tennis coach and to go to Roland Garros! Like I think I've made clear, life is about as perfect as it can get here! I'm living every moment to the fullest.

                                                                   45 days left

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