Nov 27, 2010


I'm still alive. I know it's been months that I've been home, but life has been insane. And to be honest, writing a blog post about being home isn't at the top of my list of things I want to do. But I need to do it. I need to finish this, for me. I need to find closure.

I guess the best way to start this would be to start back the day I left my host family. The night before I went to Melissa's house for a final afternoon with Melissa, Audrey, and Marion. The afternoon ran late into the evening, and it was very relaxed. Only when it was time for the very last goodbye did it really, truly hit me that I'd be leaving my new best friends in the morning and not coming back for a long time. It took an extra hour to leave the driveway, because anytime someone got in their car we would just get back out and hug some more. I finally made it home, and fell asleep for about an hour before having to leave for the bus to Paris.

Since Collines du Rhone was the largest AFS-VSF chapter we all took a long bus ride to Paris. We met in a parking lot off the high way early in the morning, and waited. And waited and waited. The bus was about 2 hours late, but no one really minded. It was a few extra minutes with our families. The bus finally came, and honestly my goodbyes to my host family were a bit anticlimactic. But if I've learned anything it's that the French adults aren't as expressive as their American counterparts. They're reserved, and it's just a way of life. So although it was a little disappointing that my host mother didn't look very sad to see me go (where as my parents told me they were sobbing when saying goodbye to the two girls that were at my house this year) I didn't take it too personally.

The bus ride was entertaining enough. All of us AFSers had really bonded over the year so it was full of laughs and story swapping. We finally made it to the hotel in Paris, and it was crazy to see the other AFS chapters. People I met at orientation in NYC, group members from orientation in Paris, semester kids, everyone was there. But AFSers are cool kids, and there was no awkwardness whats so ever between us. Because at that point we had all been able to adapt to a new way of life and make friends, we had all overcome the same challenges, and we all new how to talk to new people and make friends on the fly. We did some boring group activities to get us used to going home, and that evening we had a garden party.

The garden party was actually really fun. We went to the AFS headquarters in Paris, where they had set up a dance floor, food, a screen to watch the World Cup Match, and a wall with all the photos from everybody's application. It ran long into the night. It was fun to see the photos of your new friends, to dance to music in other languages, and to chill out one last time. The night was periodically interrupted by screams from the world cup corner over goals and protests of the South American kids to play more Spanish music, and at the end they showed a slide show of photos from the year.

The next morning people started to leave early in the morning. Every country left at a different time. This time the goodbyes had a different dynamic. Everyone was crying and hugging, just like when leaving our French friends, but laughing and smiling too. Because for all of us there was a growing excitement. Even in those of us like me that did NOT want to come home, that wanted to stay in France another few years. Because all of us were going to see people we hadn't seen in 10 months. We were all in the same boat, and it was hard to be depressed at a time like that. The Americans left fairly late in the morning, and after getting help from our friends to load up the bus we headed off to the airport.

The airport was hectic. There were so many large groups going on so many trips that nothing got done very quickly. We finally got in line, and after arguing with the airport the airline decided to let us have our 2nd bag for free (because it had been that way when we bought the tickets). We got up to security, and at that point our chaperons were like "OK, have fun, get home safe" and left. Luckily our group was pretty tight and we would wait for others and made sure everyone got to the gate safely. We had to wait for a while, during which time I ran off to a duty free shop to buy Macaroons for my parents.

We finally boarded the plane, and we soon found out it was one of the really nice ones. Not only was it one of the really nice ones, I got one of the best seats in the section. The seats all had personal TVs and games and in-flight chat systems, and my seat was in the front of a compartment so I got super extra leg room. It was VERY nice. And you know what's funny? The super amazing airline food tasted rather lacking after all year in France. The "courses" were just normal, the food was like airline food, and it was not as good as I had remembered. Oh well!

The plane landed literally right as the final of the World Cup ended. About 3/4 of my section were from Spain, on a trip to visit the US. As soon as the plane touched down they all whipped out their phones, saw they were about to win, and started pressing their call buttons above their seats so that the entire plane was filled with the triumphant dingdingdingdings of their victory.

Going through security, baggage claim, and customs was very time consuming, but eventually we made it through. I put on the flag my friends had given me and proudly stepped out into the open.

I instantly found my parents, my brother, and his girlfriend waving at me from the other side of the barrier, and as when I saw my host family the first time a knot I didn't know existed released. I was so happy all of the sudden I could have cried. I didn't want to leave France in the least, but boy was I happy to be home.

We all went out to eat and be together, and I tried to tell them all about everything. But I had one major, major problem. Every time I tried to say something to them I would say it in French. I would think I would be saying in plain English and I'd get a blank stare followed by a "....what?". It was pretty funny actually. But by that time I was jet lagged and my schedule was completely off. I slept for a few hours in the car on the way to Baltimore, but that was about it.

When I got to my house and got out of the car I was attacked by my two best friends who had been waiting in my house for hours for me to come home. It was so much fun, and they stayed for a few hours and talked. That night I stayed up until 6 in the morning, got my suitcase unpacked, and eventually crashed on my bed for about two hours.

The next day I hung out with all of my favorite people, and the day after that I left again to go to Texas and be a part of my big sister's wedding. It was great, because I got to see all of my family in Texas right away. A little while later Lola arrived from France, and she's been living with us since.

I've been having a blast in Towson. My senior year is great, and I love finishing school at 2:15 rather than 6. I've been using skills I picked up in France to make friends, and I've been able to focus and get my work done (it's easier here: it's in English! =P ) Best of all I've gotten to see all the people I missed last year and I've been able to get a fresh perspective on things.

But I still miss France more than I can express. I feel like I'm just on vacation, that I'll be headed back any day now. And it kills me to know that I'm not. Even thinking about it makes me hurt (I've been crying on and off just writing this). I've skyped with my friends, and I've even been skyped into a birthday party! Worse than that is thinking about my AFS friends. We were having such a blast, and we became so close, but it's highly, highly unlikely that we'll be able to meet up like we used too. Because some of us are in Austria, some in Finland, some in Indonesia, New Zealand, South Africa, Norway, Latvia, and so many other places. Even Erin, Annie, and I can't hang out because we're all in different parts of the country (Alaska, Vermont, and Maryland). I guess I'll just have to keep in mind the good memories for now, and save up money to see them later. And Lola's here, which is very nice, and like having a bit of last year in the US =)

So there it is. My final piece. My closure. If you stuck around to read that, thank you. If you didn't, still thank you. I appreciate people listening to my stories, and I hope I was able to help in some way. If you have anything to ask, leave a comment or something. I'd be happy to answer.

Au revoir,

Jul 5, 2010

Et, ben, voila quoi...

Uhh... well... happy 4th of July....

I'm writing now because I said I'd post again, but I have no strength left. Yesterday was my big 4th of July/going away party that I'd been planning for a while. So, so much fun. There were around 30 of my friends there, the vast majority from school but a few AFSers too. The first people showed up at 2 PM and the last left at 11 AM this morning. It was probably the best party I've ever had.

Saturday night it had been stormy, with thunder, lighning, and torrents of rain. I was really worried about how Sunday would turn out because it wasn't clearing up and the whole party was supposed to be outside, but luckilty, at around noon Sunday, the sun came out and he clouds vanished. I had asked my friends to come dressed as an "American", and they almost all went crazy with it. There were a band of cowboys, some american flags, a cheerleader, a hula dancer, Pamela Anderson, and even some one dressed up as me! Everyone brought something to eat, and we had a volley ball net, frisbee, a water fight, and other barbecue like things.

But the best parts were the things that my friends had in store for me. 5 of my friends, armed with a trumpet, a piano, 2 flutes, and a recorder, surprised me by performing "My heart will go on", which was amazing. Then, a little bit later, I was attacked, blindfolded, and forced into unseen clothing. The unseen clothing turned out to be an Equipe de France soccer jersey and a French flag with armholes so that you can year it around (trop classe, quoi). Then, as I was standing in shock, they dumped a pile of gifts on me. I got portrait, a joke book, perfume, and avery lovely necklace. But best of all was the book they gave me that was filled with photos and notes of/from everybody. My teachers, my class, my friends, everyone had signed it. I came to the realisation that I have the best friends ever =)

All that was amazing, as was the party, until 20:00. Because at 8 PM people started to leave. And that was the hardest part. It was a million times harder than leaving the US because now, well I'm not sure if I ever will see some of my amazing friends again. Saying good bye to everyone made me feel like my heart was ripping. Every one was in tears (I'm pretty sure we all looked pathetic).

And now that everyone's gone I just feel extremely tired. When I think about last night there's a little ache that arrives, and other than that I'm just completely worn out. It's not a sleepy tired, it's more a... well.... a feeling that I can't describe...

But this week is packed to the brim. I have a party tomorrow night, I go to Lyon wednesday morning, I have a party wednesday night, I'm going bowling thursday afternoon, I'm having a last moment with my host fam Thursday night, I'm hanging out with my best friends Friday, and Saturday at 5:45 I take the but to go to Paris. I come back to the US Sunday afternoon.

Yeah.... I'm sorry about this post being so weird.... It's just, writing is really... unappetizing.. at the moment...

But I'll see you soon enough...

Love, Sophia

Jun 17, 2010

Nobody said it was easy, no one ever said it would be this hard

Yesterday, at 1:00 PM, I finished class, walked out of le lycée, and got on the bus to go home. For the very last time. Never have I so much hated the start of summer vacation. Because being out of school means that the end is very, very close. It means that in 3 weeks I'll be getting on an airplane and leaving every one here behind. But I'm not ready for that yet. I'm not ready to say goodbye. I'm not ready for it to end. For the first time I spent a bus ride home the last day of school in tears.

This year has been the most spectacular year of my life. I've met so many incredible people. I've fallen in love with a country and a culture. I've made new friends all over the world, friends I feel like I've known my whole life. I've grown close to another family, une autre vie.

And I've changed. I've changed in ways that I can't express in words. I'm not even sure if some of the changes are visible, but I'm sure that I'm not the same person I was when I left. But I'm happier with myself now than I ever was. My AFS experience let me become whoever I wanted to be. Because when you're doing something like this, you realize that changing yourself is not a bad thing, that by adjusting your dreams and projects can become reality.

I'm not sure how this post is going to be interpreted by who ever reads it, but just know that this is a seriously heart-felt reflection. It's hard for me to write this because in writing it I have to admit to myself that it's all real, that I'm honestly going to have to leave. That's where my title comes from. It's not that AFS is so difficult, it's not that living abroad is too challenging, it's just that the ending is killing me. If you're a Coldplay fan, you probably know the next line in the song, a line which taps into my deepest desire right now:

Oh, take me back to the start

But since you're reading this for hearing about France, you need to be encouraged to come. And that should be easy. My last few weeks have been amazing. I had my first piano recital in years. I played Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag, and was the only person that played from memory. My friends came to see me, and we hung around the village until midnight or so. I also had my school concert, which was fun. It was probably the biggest concert I've had. We were 200 on stage, we did 2 nights, and each night 400 people came to see us. It was really cool. Other than that I've had a few sleep-overs, went to a few parties, and have spent alot of time with my friends. Last weekend was the last AFS weekend, and we all went down to Ardèche to have a few days of canoeing and escalade/spéléo/accrobranch (rock climbing/caving/ropes course-ing). Quite fun. If you had a video of us before and a video of us now we'd all be a little chubbier in the new video, but also alot more open and confident. that's France for you.

And the three weeks that are left are going to be amazing. I've got visits, concerts, parties, and adventures instore for every moment.

The other day my friend had this as her status update (in French, of course):

Life is like a roller coaster. It takes up by surprise and it goes very fast. Really very fast. There are ups, downs, and above all large drops that terrify us. Sometimes we find our selves upside down without really knowing what we're doing there and what direction we're going in. With out noticing we're already far away the ride is almost over.

While looking for the author, I came across another roller coaster quote:

Life can be like a roller coaster...And just when you think you've had enough,and your ready to get off the ride and take the calm, easy merry-go round...You change your mind, throw you hands in the air and ride the roller coaster all over again.

That's my life in a nut shell.

I'll post one or two last updates before I leave, but I need to stop before I get too depressed.


May 12, 2010

It's raining, It's Wednesday, I've got nothing better to do...

There must be something wrong with me. I'm actually updating my blog! Maybe someone should call a doctor...

But really, a surprising amount has happened since my last post. Well, actually not that much more than usual, but it seems like a lot when I look back. Let's see, where to start...

I'll start with that dissert I wrote last time. You know, the one that was 15 pages long. I got it back today, and I got 13/20. Not too bad of a note, actually. It's probably the equivalent of a B, but I'm not sure. The comment the teacher emphasized the most? That I wrote waaaay too much. My notes in general have stayed up. I got an 18/20 on a graded chemistry lab! (Oh, random note that you probably don't care about but that I'm gonna say anyways: We have a new chem teacher. Who looks like a goldfish and likes to pick one student in the class to stare at the whole period. Kind of stressful, really).

I've also started hanging out with friends more after school and on the weekends. I had a sleepover with some of my friends one weekend, which was really fun. We pulled out a lot of the things that were the obsession of our elementary-school selves, and I noticed it was a lot of the same as chez moi. Gimp (called scooby-doo here), marbles, POGs, jump-rope, the floor is lava, all of that fun stuff is pretty universal! And last weekend I went to a bal. Well, technically this was a diner dansant, but they're the same thing. It's a dance, ours was hosted by a volleyball team, and dinner with a bar and DJ. But the thing that I found super amusing was that there wasn't an unspoken age limit. The middle schoolers danced with the high schoolers, who also danced with the parents and grandparents. All to current music. I found it cool. (That being said, by 3 AM when we left only the high schoolers and drunkest of the adults were left).

It's started raining. And the rain cancelled both a type of tri-sport competition (bike-run-rock climb) and a rock climbing/camping weekend. That was a bit of a downer. But I've been super happy despite that, and I seriously can't believe that I only have 60 days left. I don't want to leave!! Not at all!! Like, you seriously could not believe the level of unwillingness that I have. This is my life, these are my friends, that's my family... (Not that I don't want to see all you Towson people. You still count and all but I've made so many new friends. It's hard to express myself well...) But those 60 days should be fun. I've been invited to several parties, am planning one of my own, may go camping, have 2 piano recitals coming up, have the school concert in which I have 2 solos, have plans for tomorrow, have plans to meet people in Lyon, and am just generally filling up my schedule =)

I've also invented a new game! Here, I'll tell you how it works:

  • A bike
  • An iPod
  • A camera (optional)

What to do:

  1. Turn on iPod. Find some happy, upbeat music. Start listening.
  2. Get on bike and start riding.
  3. Get lost.
  4. If you find yourself somewhere picturesque, take a picture


  • Start by going up hill as much as possible, and then when you're tired you can coast back home.
  • Avoid going down a big hill if you don't know the roads on the other side. Because you may find yourself at a dead end and your only option is to go back up the hill (and that, my friends, is not exactly the most fun thing in the world)
  • Avoid singing out loud to your iPod when you don't know who's at the bottom of the hill your on if your self conscious. Because it may be a large group of people from your school who'll give you strange looks.
  • Roads look different depending on which direction you're going. So that fun little extra turn you took to be able to see more of the town might just take you right back to where you started.

That's all for now!


Apr 29, 2010


Guess what, I'm gonna update my blog!! Yay!
Today is Thursday, meaning that spring break is over. *snif*. But the last week wasn't a total waste. I spent alot of time attempting my homework, attempting being the key word. In other words, I would sit down with my papers layed out, ready to work, and then do something stupid like make a paper airplane out of my DM de maths. But I did eventually get my work done. Friday I went into Lyon with another AFSer, Anni from Finland, and then went to a concert that is pretty much the French equivalent of side-by-side. (For those of you for who that doesn't mean anything, teenage musicians played at the symphony after training with the orchestra). The next day I went to another, rather more exciting concert. Yes, the day finally came to see MIKA! My friend Marion came over in the afternoon, and around 6 we left for the concert. It was paaacckkkeedddd. When the concert started we were the the center of the masssiiivveee crowd in a huuuuuuggeee (I enjoy usic extra letters) concert hall. (It used to be a slaughterhouse. Fun concert location, non?). When the first act started we began to realise exactly how badly placed we were. Litterally the only thing I saw was the shoulder of the guy infront of me. But then fate struck! It was super hot where we were, and Marion got overheated to the point where whe couldn't see anything. We made our way over to the nurses station, and while she rested I noted that the sides were an excellent place to be. We could see the screen and the stage! So, we stayed there and consequently had an excellent concert! The next day was Sunday, and I was obligated to really work on my homework. (Which I over did. My dissertation? 15 pages. The class average? 6 pages)

School this week hasn't been too bad. My science teacher has been absent, so I haven't had that class all week. I got 15/20 on a contrôle de SVT and a 14,5/20 on a DS de maths. :) Wednesday I had rock climbing, and I signed up for some sort of epicness next week where we rock climb, bike, and run. In gym class today the teacher finally gave in and let us run with our iPods, making it much more enjoyable.

The weather has been spectacular. It's HOT, and the sun is always out. That's about it for the moment. Just thought I'd give you all a little update !


Apr 19, 2010

Spring is here!

Once again I come to you with my apologies for being so late. And, once again, I promise to tell you all the details of fabulous French adventure. I like the format I used in my last post; it made it easy for me to organise myself. So, who's ready for story time?

Chapitre 1: Les Vacances de Fevrier (II)

So in my last post I mentioned that I had played sports in the snow with my host brothers during the first week of the break. But what about that ever so mysterious 2nd week? What happened then? Read on to find out!

That Friday (February 19, I do believe) my host family and I headed back to the chalet, picking up a family friend at the gare (train station) as we went. When we got to the chalet we were greeted by another family already there (This was, of course, expected. It wasn't like some random creepy people who had decided to camp out in our chalet. Just FYI).

The next day I stayed at the chalet with the 2 kids in that family and played games (one my age, one a little younger) while everyone else went and did their own thing.

Sunday I got the chance to try something new: snowshoeing! Much like hiking, just on snow fields, it was quite simple. We ended up doing the same trail I did when we went hiking in October! There were several risky moments when we had to cross over avalanche trails, and at one point my host mom slipped and fell down one of the ravines! She didn't slide too far, luckily, and after much worrying she got safely up to the trail. After that we decided to turn back, and we headed to a nice little spot to eat lunch. Meanwhile we were all amused by the boy in the other family who entertained us by doing "the penguin" down each hill (sliding down on his stomach). In fact, it was so amusing that everyone decided to try, even the parents. Although, when my host mom went down she lost a snow shoe. It was then ,while we all laughed as she made her way over the field with one foot that stayed on top of the snow and one foot that sunk in just to her knees, that I realised exactly how practical snowshoes are!

The lendemain I stayed at the chalet once again, this time with Antoine and the 2 other kids, instead of going snowshoeing with the adults. We went sledding down the big hill in the back yard, built 2 snow ramps, had a snowball fight, watched movies, and played games before everyone else came back. Then, that night, there was fondue dinner (yum!).

The next day the 2nd family left, and that night some other friends and the grandparents came over for a duck dinner. There were 2 other teens that came, and together we all hung out in the loft of the chalet.

Wednesday our company changed again as my host dad, the girl we picked up at the train station , and her mom left. But, in their place, one of my host cousins came to spend the rest of the sejour with us. That night, after playing some games and watching a movie, those of us left at the chalet (myself, Laurie (the cousin), my host mom, and Christophe)went to the pattinoire to see a skating show where the ice skaters gave us a glimpse of the winter Olympics (with little sketches of skiing, bobsledding, etc).

Thursday dawned bright and sunny, and my host mom proposed a half day of skiing. So, the four of us headed off for the slopes. At the beginning we all went off together, but after a little bit we ran into some friends and Christophe left to do things more on his level. But I was quite happy with my blues and greens, and this time it passed with less drama than the last time! The weather turned ugly, though, and sometimes there was such a cloud around the slope that I couldn't see more than a few meters ahead of me! Around 5:30 or so we called it quits and went to pick up Christophe, who had left with the family friends. We ended up staying at their chalet for a while before returning to our chalet, playing a game, watching a movie, and going to bed.

Friday was not nearly as nice weather-wise as Thursday. Throughout the morning we had white-outs, rain, ice, flurries, everything. After lunch Christophe, Laurie, and I went out side to enjoy the little sun that had come out. I decided to try snowboarding (real snowboarding) for the first time in my life. I must say, I have a new found respect for anyone who can even hold themselves upright on one of those things!!!! I blame part of my failure on the fact that the board was for a lefty, and I fall to my right, but I can't blame it all on that. Christophe was very helpful, helping me get back up, attempting to steer me down the hill, and even trying to send me over a jump. I went down the hill twice before retiring to a sled. We then built a massive, massive snowman and then had a pretty epic snowball fight (involving Christophe climbing onto the roof to lance snow at us!).

Chapitre 2: Théâtre

In my last post I very, very briefly mentioned "a thing with music". Now you may be asking yourself what exactly this thing with music is. Or you may not be asking yourself that at all. Maybe tu t'en fous. But whatever the case about your inquisitive status, you're gonna find out about it anyways!

Before the ski break, all the kids who are in music in seconde were conscripted to work with a small theater troupe and to perform in a small spectacle. Well, the week before the break we had rehearsal for an hour a day, and the week after the rehearsals were around 2 hours, and Friday the 5th of March we had our little show.

Now, this isn't normal music/theater. The group we worked with tries to mix unusual instruments, unusual harmonies, and unusual topics for songs. All in all, it was a very particular taste of music, but it was fun for us anyways. We sang during 2 songs, and I even had a solo! (Although apparently I have more of an accent than I realized!!) (Note to future AFSers: You have an accent. Even if you think you don't, you do. Embrace it. You make friends with it. Because despite what the guidebooks say about snobby French, the French teens love our funny American accents. Meaning you will get mimicked. A lot. But it's not mean spirited. And, en plus, you're allowed to mimic them when they speak English)

But, continuing with the spectacle, that Friday after school we went to to the theater in Givors, ate pizza, and chilled out until 18h when it was showtime! The students only had a little bit at the beginning and a bit at the end (because, after all, it was the main group's show), but it was cool. I ended up getting home around midnight-12:30ish, and, hyped up on soda and adrenaline and unable to sleep, I watched the stars from my balcony on a calm, french night.

Chapitre 3: Ma fête!

That's right, I hosted a party. This is proof enough that AFS has given me a brand new confidence and sense of security. It's not like I've never hosted a party before. I have one every year for my birthday, sometimes for holidays, sometimes for no reason what so ever. But this was different. I hosted a party. Me, with a lack of language skills, without my friends I've known forever, without my usual standby of pizza and chips, without any knowledge of fall back icebreakers!!!!! And you know what, I'd say it was quite a success! Here's what I learned about parties in France:
  • Parents trust the kids enough to leave the house. Maybe it's not that parents in the US don't trust the kids, maybe they just don't trust the party atmosphere. Whatever the case, the French parents seem to feel that the parties will work themselves out and parental supervision isn't mandatory. (And yes, my dear parents, my party was sans catastrophe and sans injury. =D )
  • Everyone brings something to eat. Maybe it's just where I live, but at a teen's party this doesn't happen in the US. You don't start the party with a bag of chips, some burritos, a bottle of coke, and a bag of candy and finish with 7 cakes, 3 bags of chips, 2 bottles of soda, and 3 pizzas that have barely been touched.
  • Games can be translated. Like "Never have I ever" for example. And they provide a new energy to duller moments.
  • The piano is not off limits. Everyone likes to play, no one minds.
  • People dance. At most of the parties I've been to in the US the music plays, people listen, but it's more for ambiance. Here, it's like a school dance. You dance the line dances, you show off your new moves, you even take the slows.
  • The ending time is indefinite. Having too much fun? You sleep at the house. And it doesn't really need to be decided in advance, you just do it.

Chapitre 4: Mes notes

14,81 overall average. 2nd highest grade in the class.

Chapitre 5: Lyon

That makes 4 times in 3 weeks that I've gone to Lyon! The first time was with another AFSer, Erin. The 2nd with a family friend, Laure. The third with my friends from school. The fourth with my host mom. It's really, really easy to go there with the bus, and it's fun!

Chapitre 6: Vacances de Paques

So, Easter here was fun. We had the Monday afterwords off, but that wasn't out spring break. But, the 3 day weekend made a nice little vacation. Easter morning wasn't at all the same as in the US. The French don't have Easter baskets. (GASP!) Luckily, my mom had sent me one all the way from the states. I need not describe the torture that was having a box in my room for a week that I couldn't open, but as soon as I woke up Easter morning I tore back the cardboard and there it was! With Reese's eggs! Yay, peanut butter! I bought my host family some really cute chocolate eggs that were in real egg shells, and so I gave those to my host mom in the morning. Then I was given the task of setting the table for the Easter lunch with the grandparents and cousins. Every one showed up around early afternoon, and we had a typical French Easter meal of lamb. Then all the adults and Christophe went off to hide Easter eggs for an egg hunt. Now, as a little note, in France the eggs aren't plastic. They take those hollow chocolate foil wrapped eggs and hide them just like that. They ranged from tiny eggs to large ones, hidden obviously to hidden in tiny nooks and crannies. (Some people were cruel when hiding them. One of them was very visible in the middle of a rose bush. Putting your hand it and grabbing it was easy, taking your hand back out was the hard part). That night I called home for a little bit and got some news from my family, which was nice. (Note: When you're talking to your mom and every time you start a phrase she cuts you off, it's the connection that's bad. It's not that your mom really just doesn't want you to talk).

Chapitre 7: Les Vacances de printemps

Still going on now! In fact, today is the start of my 2nd week of spring break. I've been so busy this week it's not even funny! Or, more so, busy for me. Last Saturday I was invited to a soirée chez une amie. It was a last minute thing, because she got last minute approval form her parents, but it was fun none the less. We listened to music, ate, and watched a horror movie. I don't really do horror movies. (AKA, the walk from the road where I got dropped off, up the super long driveway, into the dark house, and into my bed at 3AM scared me much more than it should have).

The Sunday after that I went to my friend Lucie's house for lunch. (Those of you who follow my blog more closely than you should will notice that this is the Lucie that was supposed to be in my class to show me around.) We then watched LOL (again), which was fun. (Note to parents: Do not judge French teens based on LOL)

That Monday I played laser tag with my friends from my class. That was super fun! We played at this little place where you rent the entire arena for your group, so it was just the 10 of us playing. The first round I was ranked #7, but the 2nd round I was #1!

Wednesday I went bowling with my host cousins. I failed miserably, but it was amusing. We may do something en famille this week, too.

Thursday I went shopping in Lyon with 3 of my best friends from school. That was cool, and I hope we get to do it again soon!

Yesterday I went to the Parc de la tête d'or with my host mom. We walked around for a few hours and then went to an exposition of Ben at the contemporary art museum.

Chapitre 8: La Semaine prochaine

Next week isn't gonna be too fun... I've got a big paper to write for Monday, 3 unit tests, and a test in French that's 3 hours long.

Chapitre 9: La futur

I have like 2.5 months lefts. I can't even begin to think about it. Like, I'm gonna leave. Leave all my friends here. Leave this whole life I've created. I may never see these people again. My life has changed soo much. My way of thinking, my lifestyle, everything is different. I can't imagine going back. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Too much bizarreness going on. I've had 2 dreams in the past week or so where I've gone home, and each time I wake up almost in tears because I'm not ready yet. Maybe the cloud from that volcano in Iceland will let me stay longer.

But, until then, I'm gonna go make the most of my time here.



Feb 13, 2010

I'm late, I'm late, for a very important update!

I'm really, really sorry that I haven't updated. It's been crazy for me here (in the best possible way), and I haven't really had the time to write a lot. (To be honest, I've even neglected the journal I keep every day!) But I fully intend to write about everything I've been up to right now, so sit back, relax, and enjoy!

Evénement numéro 1: Noël

Christmas was insanely fun! Although I had a lot of trouble trying to decide what gifts to get my host family, everything finally came together. I got my host mom a cute little oil dispenser from a store she likes that makes funky house hold supplies (Pylones, in case you were wondering). My host dad was a little harder, because I only see him on the weekends. I decided to get him a nice box of chocolates from a shop that has quite a reputation (Voisin). Personally, though, I found the gifts for my host brothers the most challenging. Neither were very willing to help when I asked what they wanted, saying "I don't know", "A surprise",etc. In the I was left with the reposes "A car" from one brother and "Friendship and love" from the other. So what did I do? I went and bought the closest thing I could find on my budget: A little hot-wheels for the one and a playmobil person for the other! I also gave them some DVDs, because I'm a nice person =). (Although I've noticed that Antoine plays with his toy car more than he watches the movies!!)

The gifts were finished and under the tree the 23rd, and the real party started Christmas Eve. After going to the movies in the afternoon with my host mom, brothers, and one of their friends (each of us seeing a different film), we returned to the house to find that the family had already arrived. My host uncle, aunt, and cousins awaited us, and before long we were all seated in the salon enjoying fois gras, escargots, and other french appetizers. We then ate dinner, dessert, and papillotes until we could eat no more. Then the kids all went upstairs and played card games and board games, attempted to solve brain teasers, and listened to some of Baltimore's 24 hour Christmas station thanks to the wonders of live radio through the Internet. We finally decided it was time to stop when we noticed that we were falling asleep, which was around 2 or 3 in the morning.

Christmas morning greeted us with sunshine. In the morning we... did nothing special! No rush for the (non existent) stocking, no ripping open presents, no attempting to wake up sleeping siblings!!!! But it wasn't bad at all. I helped my host mom get the food prepared, I set and decorated the tables, and early in the afternoon the whole family showed up. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, oh my! We all stood around and chatted for a little bit before sitting down to Christmas dinner (the kids at one table, the adults at another). The food was, according to my host mom, the classic french Christmas dinner: Fois gras and salmon, then a meat (I'm pretty sure it was quail and venison)(When I didn't understand the french word for venison everyone helpfully tried to explain. I figured it out when they started talking about Bambi). It was all quite tasty, and for the second day in a row I ate way too much. It was then the most anticipated moment of the day: PRESENTS!! Unlike at home where we're always forced to wait as everyone opens the presents one by one in order of age, here they counted to three and everyone opened them all together. I got (-along with other things) some new books (in french and in English/french), a new CD (BB Brunes), some new sheet music, tickets to see Mika in concert (!!!!!!), and ...... (drum roll) a potato! Apparently, Antoine decided to give everyone a potato. With a face drawn on it in marker. No lie. After dinner we all played a game (Wanted) and tried to solve some enigmas from the new book a cousin got. It was all together a very fun holiday.

Evénement numéro 2: Ski

The day after Christmas my host dad, brothers, and I loaded into the station wagon and headed off to the Alpes (only to get stuck in HORRIBLE traffic on the way). We arrived in the night, and right away went to sleep. The next day Antoine and my host dad left early to ski, but I stayed with Christophe at the chalet and worked on homework (oh, how studious of me!). Afterwords we played a sort of "Name that Tune" because Christophe got a CD of film music for Christmas. Later in the afternoon, when Antoine and my host dad returned, I was informed that tomorrow I would be getting a ski lesson in the morning (because I'm an awful skier) and that we needed to go rent me skis. We ended up not getting the skis due to a confusion at the store, but I was getting more and more excited for my ski adventure.

Well, the day of my ski adventure arrived and I was out the door by 8:30. We rented the skiis, drove to the slopes, and before I knew it I was being introduced to Antoine, my ski instructor. (Oddly enough, it was Antoine (my host brother) who helped my fine Antoine (my ski instructor)). Now this is where my skiing becomes completely new for me. At home I ski on a nice little mountain with fake snow. Here I was in the Alpes. With real snow swirling around often making it completely white. And I swear the ride up took like 1725639192.3726 million hours. Not even kidding. (Ok, maybe I am kidding. Just a little. But anyways, continuing with the story...). But you know what? My skiing wasn't too horrible! Antoine took me on the easy slopes, and I was able to steer and control my speed and all that jazz (and I only fell like 4 times, which is pretty phenomenal for me). The three hours of lesson passed quickly, and afterwords I met up with my host family for lunch. After eating I was planning on going back out and skiing with Antoine (my host brother) and my host dad, but that's when my problems started. On the J-bar up to the slope we were going to take disaster struck! Well, not really disaster, but one of my skis popped off. So I had to get off the lift to save my ski, and that's where my break down occurred. I'm not really going to go into detail about it in an attempt to preserve my image, but I will say that it involved my trying to ski down a slope that was too hard for me, exhaustion, getting a jet-ski called to take me back to the lodge, and the end of skiing for me for he day. But you know what, it wasn't all that bad! I had already warned my family of my lack of ski experience (3-4 times in my life), and that evening I went home and watched a nice movie with my host mom called La Première étoile which made me feel better about my skiing =)

The next day the rain arrived, so skiing was not really possible. The day was spent inside playing board games and doing enigmas, and in the evening we went to a friend's chalet for dinner. There were a couple families there, meaning that there were enough people to do a kids table and an adults table. So, since we finished eating first, all of the teenagers left to go to a bar in town (all the teenagers being me, my 2 host brothers, and 3 other guys that were there).It was really nice to just be able to chill with people, and even though I didn't know the other guys I was able to have a great time! (to the surprise of my host mom. She called at the end and was all worried that I'd just been left in the corner all night).

Evénement numéro 3: Nouvel An

The day after I got back from the Alpes was New Year's Eve. While my host brothers had a massive party at the house, I was invited to a friend's place for a fiesta of smaller size. 4 people, to be exact, me included. It was with my copines, the 3 girls I hang out most with at school. I t was really fun! We did the typical sleep over things (little games, gossip, music, movies), and ended up staying up until 6 or 7 just talking. So, there's proof: French teens and American teens really aren't that different!!

Evénement numéro 4: Grève

My teachers went on strike. Again. Two Thursdays in a row. Meaning the first week I had a couple hours in the afternoon and the second week I had no class at all. Meaning, naturally, going with all my friends to McDo and then to the magasins. As a matter of fact, I've missed class a lot lately due to things relatively outside my control! Take a look, I've had:
  • A field trip with Escalade that took an afternoon
  • A teachers conference that gave us a morning
  • A day of planning for next year that I was allowed to skip, giving me an afternoon
  • A thing with Music that took everyday last week from 11-1
  • Snow, that keeps some of my teachers at home, giving us an hour or two
  • Snow, that stops the buses, giving us a day and a half
  • And, best of all, a 2 week ski break going on right now

Evénement numéro 5: Vacances

This week and next week make up our February break! This week we stay at home, but on Friday we head back up to the mountains for a week of skiing! (I'm gonna stick to the easy slopes this time). So far the break has gone well! Yesterday I went to the movies (Sherlock Holmes) with my host mom and Christophe, played soccer (in the snow) with Antoine, and played badminton (in the snow) with Christophe.

Evénement numéro 6: Cooking

So, I've made a few little thing for my host family. I made a massive lasagna, which, thanks to teenage host brothers, was gone in 2 or 3 days. Sunday I made some Valentine's Day brownies. And today I attempt an real, American pizza! Wish me luck!

Evénement numéro 7: Notes
I've been getting some good grades here! I got a 16.5 /20 in Geography (good), a 14/20 in History (good), an 18.5/20 in Chemistry (excellent), and, best of all

11.5/20 in English
Which, by the way, is not good. In fact, for a native English speaker, it's awful. But, in my defense, it was new for me. I have no clue what les modaux are. And, in the fill in the blank part, all my answers were correct. They just weren't what she was looking for. (But I think it's terrific. It's boring to always have 20/20 =D )(Also, I now have a smattering of people offering me English lessons. The kid next to me got a 13 and spent the entire class telling me that it would be smart to take notes and that maybe I should listen more closely to the teacher. I think he was enjoying himself)

So, that about covers my last 2 months. I've been having a terrific time, and I still highly recommend France for people trying to decide which country to come to! If you have any questions or comments or complaints or ideas or proclamations of love for the blog or what not, feel free to say something! I'll try my best to keep updating more frequently!

A bientot, Sophia