Saturday, September 24, 2011

One month in France!

Hello Everyone,

I have officially been in France for one month! Can you believe it? I know I can't. It seems like yesterday I was finishing up work, saying my last goodbyes to everyone, and packing up for my exchange.
Now, I have been in school for three weeks and already well into my exchange.
Everything is going great. I lost one of my dearest friends this week. Tiki, the girl from Ecuador, went back home today. I think she had an amazing two months here. I am so happy I got to meet her, and I am going to miss her greatly.
Oh, did you know that if I want to say, "I miss you", it's not, "Je me manque", which is the direct translation, it's, "Tu me manque" which is translated to be, "You miss me". Agathe; another one of my friends, was explaining this to me a while ago and I was completely confused for a long time. It sounds so selfish in English, but here it is the correct way.
This week of school went really well, I'm getting closer and closer with my friends (I can't even think about leaving them behind after a year now!!) and school is going by pretty good. Friday in my French class (it's for two hours straight on Fridays) the teacher gave us a text that we have to read, comment and summarize, and then answer the questions given. I understood the task this time, I mostly understood the text... ok there was a huge chunk I had no idea what the author was talking about, and then the questions I had no idea what it meant. So in other words, I sat there in class for two hours feeling terrible I was doing nothing. Not that the assignment would count anyways, but I want to do something. Thankfully, the teacher gave an assignment so that the students who do bad on this assignment can get their mark boosted. So I will do that so I hand in something.
I also have Gym for two hours on Thursdays. Ohhh do I miss my grade 9 gym teacher... this teacher isn't the nicest person. One of my friends; Suzanne, got really hurt during the class and all the teacher was doing was criticizing her for not being active enough while the girl could hardly walk she was in so much pain. I wanted to tell the teacher that she should maybe be helping Suzanne to make sure she wasn't seriously injured but I wasn't sure how to say it in French without sounding mean. Right now, we're doing track. We get to the track (a five minute walk from the school; all the schools share the same track), then we run 800m, then do these 80m sprints with different approaches (example high kneels, low bends etc) then pentabon which is like triple jump but it's five jumps not three, then this week we started disk... you throw the 1 kg disk specifically and wherever it lands it's your score. For pentabon, I'm jumping almost 2m (not counting when I do the first 4 jumps which is 8m) and in disk I throw 11.80m.
In one of my english classes we've been watching the music video of Thriller by Michael Jackson and then doing work on it. It's funny cause Agathe and I are singing the song and acting out the dance from our seats. Now we have to write a Short Horror story next week.
Well, for the weekend my plans are getting my hair cut, going to see my host family's relatives on Sunday for lunch and going on a nature hike.

A bientôt!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Ah France...

Hello everyone!

I have completed another week of school. I have counted 181 days of school so minus 10 days means I have only 171 days left.
School went well this week. My English classes are becoming more of a joke every time I have it. This week we had a competition and well my group won so our prize was our choice; being that the class can watch FRIENDS on Monday along with some sweets. In another class we have been talking about Gothic fiction so the teacher had us watch the music video "Thriller" by Michael Jackson and then describe it. Then we had to highlight the words she gave us that were in the song. It's fun though because I can relax and breathe a bit in those classes.
My French classes have been interesting but I think I'm doing not so bad. I wish I could just pick up the language and accent like nothing but nothing anybody truly wants in life is given out easily.
My friends here are so awesome. Every day is more memories, jokes and laughs that I will never forget. Take today for example. I was in Bernay with them seeing some museums (one was of paintings and sculptures; it was breathtaking, and another on chairs and furniture from historic moments) and then later we went to their house. I was taking about my luggage and I said "vaiselle" which means dishes instead of "valise" which is the correct word. That had them laughing for a while!
I have also found out my second host family. I have not met them but I know their names and that all their children are grown up and working so I will be an only child when I go there after Christmas.
That's it for now I think.

A bientôt!

Friday, September 9, 2011

First week of school = completed!

Hello Everyone!

So after 6 o'clock today, I have been in a French school for exactly one week! What experience that has been!
First, let me explain my scheduale here in France. First off, you have Semaine A (english translation: week A) and Semaine B which you alternate for the entire year. There are no semesters also. Next, I will most likely be dropping out of Spanish because here they speak it almost as well as French. I understand French almost perfectly (sometimes they talk way too fast) but Spanish I know maybe 30 words so today when I had the class, I understood maybe 5 words in every paragraph she spoke.... They also have a 10 minute break every 2 hours so they can pretty much let the kids who need a smoke get a smoke. Yeah it's really pathetic. Every class is an hour at least, I have 4 classes that are 2 hours. The days start at 8 and end by 6. I usually end by 5 o'clock in the afternoon but I have to wait for the bus.
Monday: 8h00 - English (reinforcement). 9h00 - English. 10h10 - Work Period (this is shared between two teachers so whatever they teach they use this period to do their own teachings). 12h03 - Lunch! 12h55 - Spanish. 13h55 - Pause (This means I can do what I want, study, go into town, hang out with friends, etc). 14h55 - History and Geography (once you finish a chapter in one of the subjects, you switch to the next. We have begun with History).
Tuesday: (I don't have anything for the first two periods in the morning = I can sleep late and be driven to school). 10h10 - English. 11h05 - French. 12h03 - Lunch! 13h55 - French. 14h55 - Science. 16h05 - English.
Wednesday: 8h00 - French. 9h00 - French Literature. 10h10 - History and Geography. 12h03 - Lunch! Then I go home for the day because there are no classes on Wednesday in the afternoon.
Thursday: 8h00 - Gym (I swear my gym teacher is like, 80 or something. I'm not joking, she shold have retired at least 20 years ago. When I walked out the changeroom and saw her I almost chocked on my spit!). 10h10 - Spanish. 11h05 - Philosaphy (this is to prepare the kids for Terminale; our grade 12). 12h03 - Lunch! 13h55 - Science (I only have this class certain weeks in the entire year. They are marked on my scheduale so I don't have it every week I have Semaine A). 14h55 - French Literature. 16h05 - English. 17h05 - Science.
Friday: 8h00 - English. 9h00 - French. 11h05 - English. 12h03 - Lunch! 14h55 - History and Geography. 16h05 - Spanish.
Is exactly the same except on Monday I have a class at 17h05 - Civics and Thursday there is no Spanish at 10h10 and I have an English class that takes the place of that Science class I only have sometimes and it covers the other weeks that I don't have Science on and there is no Science at the end of the day. 
Long days.... The French here is difficult, some teachers like to talk super fast but I'm getting by pretty well and doing the best in my work as I can. Yes I already have homework, I did the first day.
I have also met lots of friends, YEAHH!!!
There is Agathe and Tiki. I must say these two together for a special reason. Tiki is from Equador, here on a short exchange. She will already be leaving me in 3 weeks and the thought makes me so incredibly sad! For short exchanges, you have the person first come to your country, and then you go to theirs. Soooo Agathe first went to Equador, and Tiki is here now.
Now let me explain each of them. Agathe is very kind and helpful. If it weren't for her, I would be really lost in school. She is in my grade so she helps me with the classes we are in. She is very smart, caring, funny, and super cool! She drew me in cartoon (it's so awesome!!!!) and we get along extremely well!
Then Tiki. She is the sweetest and cutest person ever! Now you're probably thinking, "Interesting name!" Her name is actually Marie Astrid but her nickname is Tiki and it suits her so well we don't even call her by her real name. She speaks very good in English so we help each other in French but it's nice to have breaks and speak in English. Plus, I understand the lessons more then her so if she doesn't understand the words in French, I translate the ones I know. If not I ask Agathe!
Then there is Charlotte. Ohhhhh so cute! And funny oh my goodness she is always laughing an adorable giggle or making us laugh! She is very helpful and friendly. She also knows lots of English so she helps me when I see her during break or lunch. She makes me always feel included, if I start to wander off she is right there getting me back into the conversation!
Then there is Anne. Anne is just a happy person. Not scary happy but she is always there if you need her, is laughing and smiling always...
Annnnddd I just saw naled guy commercial on television... eww. Yes as you can see, culture difference!
Anyways, so Anne is awesome!
Then there is Eva. She is here on exchange for a year like me! She is with Charlotte in her "class" (I am in L which means Literaire so more languages and they are still in grade 11 but in ES/L so they have languages and other things) and is very good at French! She is friendly also and kind, a very good friend in total.
Lastly there is Suzanne. She is very helpful, right there to my aid if I need help with anything! She is very caring and thatnk God she is so willing to help this Canadian in her first week in a new school!
My teachers are very nice and understanding, my English teachers ask me for help sometimes with the questions from the others (haha!) and the food in the cafeteria.... OMG IT IS AMAZING!!!!!!!!!
The food is SO GOOD like... I always had to bring lunch from home unless I wanted to go out but even the times I ate our cafeteria food I was like eww this is so unhealthy and nasty.
First, the food in France in total is very natural. Which I love! Like, in yogurt, there is no blah blah blah this chemical and blah blah blah that chemical. There is cream, the kind you chose directed on the label (example, it is REAL fruit and REAL coconut, not fake tasting chemicals), and a small amount of syrup to make it thick and give a light sweetness.
SO anyways, the food in the caff is extremely, fantastic-ly (I know it's not a word), amazingly good. I have had it three times now (the first day my host mom took me to lunch with my host brother, Rémi, and my younger host sister, Mathilde, and the second day my friends invited me to lunch (we were going to this awesome hamburger joint but it was stillclosed because of summer so we went to McDonald's cause it was the closest restaurant. Let's just say the McDonald's here is the heaven of McDonald's. It is all natural products and no grease). And yum yum!
That is pretty much all so far. I am going to sleep in late tomorrow, some of my host family's family is coming down this weekend, and that's it!

A bientôt!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Getting busy!

Hey everyone!

So yesterday I went with my host parents and host brother to my host dad's brother's farm (yeah sounds complicated I know keep up though!) to pick potatoes! Yes they hand. pick. they're potatoes. It was extremely hot which has been not normal for this summer for them and I was wearing jeans. Meeting the family on my host dad's side was cool plus one of his brother's daughter is named Elise! (My host dad has six brothers and no sisters). After we we're done we had a picnic, had a tour of all their land and the animals (pigs and chickens... funny cause we have chickens both meat and for eggs like them and our neighbors have pigs) BUT what was awesome was I was taught how to drive a four wheeler on my own! Second time on it and it was so awesome!!
After that evening, my oldest host sister's friend was having her 20th birthday party so I was invited to it. There was lots of socializing, I met another girl named Elise and she was really nice and awesome.
For once my name is common, and said right every single time!
Today I went to my Rotary orientation in my district and got to meet all the Inbounds (all that are on their exchange now), Rebounds (all that have completed there exchanges the past year) and one Outbound who is going to my school in my grade and education path (I'm in Premier which is grade 11 for us and I'm doing Literaire which is like us doing classes in the Language field).
I had a really awesome time with them. Some sad news is that the EUROTOUR they promised before of going to several countries in Europe for a couple of weeks has been cancelled. I was really sad when I heard about it.
However they're are about 10 weekend trips I will be doing this year, including amusement park, going to a famous castle, making Canadian food for 250 people as a fundraiser toward Rotary, going to Paris for an assembly (at the end of the year so I will have to see Paris BEFORE then), and one really awesome one is that all the exchange students in France will be meeting up in the ALPS sometime in April.
After getting back from the orientation I slept because I only got three hours of sleep from getting home late with my host family from the birthday party and getting up early for the orientation.

A bientôt!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Over a week in!

Hey everyone!

So I haven't written anything for a while but that's a good thing right? So much to tell so here I go.

So Monday I start school. Istart at 10:15 that day but the other days I can be starting as early as 8 to as late as 9. I can also be going from anywhere to 6 o'clock in the afternoon though. At least I don't have to go on Saturdays and there is no school in the afternoons on Wednesdays (unless they put me down for music). Not just that, but lunch is like an hour to two hours, plus I get it for free at school. See, nobody makes lunches here, they get lunch at school or they go home if their home is really close to the school. Since I'm on exchange though, my meal is provided every day for the entire year. Also, I found out if it snows, I don't go to school. They don't have no blowers here so they can't clear the paths for the buses. I also have so many holidays! Like I get Oct. 22 to Nov. 3 off, Dec. 17 to Jan. 3 off, Feb. 25 to Mar. 12 off and Apr. 21 to May 7 off!! The only thing is, school officially ends the 5th of July but since I don't have to do exams I'm good.I looked through some of my books, I have one for English, Science, History, Geography and Spanish. English I just flipped through to see how they do the books, Spanish I didn't bother, Science looks like the stuff I learned in Grade 9 (eaaaaassssyyyy), Geography looks like I will be learning only about France pretty much, not really other countries which is good cause France is small.And History I haven't looked through yet.
I've done many things so far, including back to school shopping, getting clothes (it's a lot cooler here because there summer came earlier this year so it's already fall), going to see a cathedral and museum and Bayeaux, eating real Italien pizza in Caen (funny story, I ordered my pizza and the man knew I was a foreigner because of my accent, so when he came back to serve our plates, he gave me a really tiny pizza. I was so worried because it didn't cost cheap plus I had over eight hours until I would eat supper. Then after my host family got a good laugh, he came and gave my actual pizza), going biking, to the market, visiting people the family knows, going to my first Rotary meeting (lots of appetizers, wine and seafood! And champagne though I didn't drink any) and funny moments with the family in between.
This Sunday I will be going to a ... guess you can say orientation for all the new inbounds in our district. A lot of the inbounds I heard are going to be going, including my host brother. I'm excited because this will be my first chance at meeting some friends here.
That's it for now,

A bientôt!