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.




  1. thank you for posting!!!!!!!!!!! you're an academic beast even in a country where you don't speak the language fluently (or do you??? that would be so cool!)!
    your vacations sound wonderful...2 weeks long!
    and to prove that im NOT a blog stalker, though it may seem like i am, i did not know about lucie. so there. :P
    update again soon? seriously, even if it's just "i had toast for breakfast. it was french toast but not french toast." id check back every day for something like that (oh wait, i already do! jk).
    love you a lot!

  2. everything sounds soooo amazinggg!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and I am incredibly jealous. I particularly enjoy your snow stories,they kind of relate to the snowpocolypse here.
    Sarah, Becky, Sam, and I made a legit igloo. yeah. it was awesome....
    but anyway, I'm glad you are enjoying yourself! ad that party detail, ooh la la. you're a master at life, just saying. French people seem pretty chill...

    I miss you! Enjoy french-ness!!
    lylas, <3 Christy