Friday, June 23, 2017

Enjoy the Present and Be Positive (The Last Two Weeks)

           And here I am....the last two weeks. In September, I told myself that these days would never come. June seemed so far away. In December, I wanted this day to come but it just didn't seem to be coming fast enough. Now, I am here. I think that I will soon be back in my native country, but I remember it as if I never left. Half of me just wants to lay in bed and cry, and it takes all the energy I have to make the most of my last days here. I realize, as I've learned this year, that I am a very small part of this world. Everybody's life around me continues. My host parents still go to work, my friends are still studying for the BAC. When I left the US, although my friends and family were sad to see me go, their lives continued. I started a new one. When I go back to the US, I will start another one. Everyone's here will continue. It's harder to say goodbye than hello during an exchange year.

          However, like I said, I am making the best of the present moment, which I was reading about the other day. Staying busy so that I don't think about two weeks from now is one of the ways I handle "this." Though I do have to some serious planning/pressures for when I get back to the US, I don't forget to have fun. Marseille, the Alps, my French fluency tests, countless parties and events with seems to never end, and it doesn't have to yet.

         Marseille was magnificent, as almost every town near the sea is. I went with my host parents and AFS group about two weeks ago. I went during Christmas break, but that was a rough time. I was glad to create better memories with my host mom and AFS friends on our boat ride!

         My French fluency tests were last week, and overall I am pretty satisfied. I studied hard and did my best. This time I was able to control the stress better. I feel more confident about one test than the other, but we'll see when I get my results next week. Perhaps the most memorable events of the day were not actually the the tests themselves, but the getting there. Our train got stuck on the way to Lyon, and we would have been late for my exams if my host mom was not figuring out another way to get there. We ran to catch our bus and to get to my second exam also. There was even a confusion about where the tests were being held. That's a day with my host mom I'll never forget!

        The Alps were amazing as I expected, but they are not as close as you all think! I loved climbing on the rocks and playing in the snow with my host parents!

         As much as I try to  focus on France, I always get asked questions, particularly, "How do you feel about going home?" Some immediately say "You must be excited to see your family again." Others say "So, are you sad?" I'm not sure myself. Sure, as I listen to "Welcome Home" I smile at the thought of seeing my cousins again (especially since I missed the family reunion this week and my Chinese cousins are home) and I try to plan out my first words for my parents when I find them at the airport and how I will teach them the bise.

        However, the happiness of seeing my family back home does not hide the fact that I am leaving a life behind here. Some people do not understand how people that are not biologically related can be so close to me, but that's been the greatest gift this year has given me. When I waved at my parents in August and said "See you in July", I meant it. I would love to be able to say it here. Right now, the thought of going back comes as a shock, even if I knew it was coming for the past ten months. I've read about it, heard stories about it, but it just doesn't seem real. When it does acually sink in, little by little, sadness is the first feeling.

        If I had the choice of going back to the US, I'm not sure I would, at least not yet. On the other hand, I guess the greatest present I can give to my host parents at this time is to put into action what they've  told me these past five months. I can't have everything in life, so I have to make the most of what I do have. I had understood the first part well before coming to France, but the second part took more work. All that to say, I'm going to list why I am excited to return "home."

1. Family and Friends

        Obviously, the #1 reason why I don't want to leave France is the #1 reason I want to go back. It's been extremely hard to be away from everyone, and everything, I knew this year, especially in December. I can't wait to see my nanny again and the countless others!

These are the crazy cousins I've missed!

2. Being Able to Understand Everything

       It's been pretty cool to not have been pressured by all the school responsibilities this year, but it was frustrating when I wanted to put in the effort with my classmates but couldn't. May I never forget how draining certain times were when I was just trying to figure out what was being said around me or to understand the personality of those around me.

3. Root Beer and Fried Chicken

      I can't say I prefer American food over French food, (That would be a crime!) but there are some food/drinks I will be happy to taste again.

4. Discover my Hometown

     I actually wonder what it's like to go further than the Giant grocery store or to sit and watch the cows pass by on the Amish farm...

5. Hugs

     I don't really miss them at all now. I've adapted in several ways. However, I put this element because if I don't remember how hard it was at the beginning, how should I expect everyone else to? (I remember the first real culture shock the week of September 17-24.)

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