Headed back to France!
As I have mentioned before I have decided to be an exchange student this year! After long and hard contemplation I decided on the country France. I absolutely loved my time in France a few years ago and I have always wanted to learn French. So I applied! This March I got my first email from my host family!
I was so excited! I was going to a small town in the VERY north of France! I was so excited. Even more excited yet when my family realized that we had driven right past the town I would be living in the first time we had ever been to France! So I would be living in the place that had first given me a taste of France! It was perfect.
For months I relived our trip through France looking at pictures, I also looked up pictures of my town and the weather. I couldn’t wait! I started counting the days till my flight to New York where I would have my first orientation and then fly out to Paris. It came faster than I expected and pretty soon it was only a few days until the day I would leave.
The day before I left I had an art show to sell the paintings that I had been working on since December. The money I would make at the art show would be the money that would pay for my year abroad in France. We invited a lot of friends, family, and locals to come to see my art, drink some wine, and enjoy some appetizers. I had 10 paintings all together and I was painting more and doing touch ups right up until one hour before the show!
The show was amazing. I had so much fun, and I loved talking to people about my coming adventure. I loved hearing people comment on my art and noticing the little details I had put in. The first painting that sold was the first painting I had ever done with acrylics, Throughout the evening 4 more of my favorite paintings left the room including the one I had finished painting just that day. Watching the paintings taken out of the room was harder than I expected. Especially my favorite ones that I had spent months on. Luckily one of my favorite paintings was bought by the owner of D’Olivo a olive oil shop downtown. So if I miss my painting I can go downtown and see it, and it also gives me an excuse to try some of their delicious olive oils!
The next day I started my packing with the help of my family. And at 5pm that night we drove off the the airport after taking several goodbye photos with my family. It was very sad to say goodbye to my family. So sad in fact that the airport guard handed us a box of tissues.
By 4am the next day I was in New York city. I met up with some other AFS students going to France as well. One girl said the airport guard had given her some chocolates and biscuits she and her family were so sad. So we all exchanged stories of different things we had received from the airport guards out of pity. Then we were put on a shuttle to an airport where we were to have our first orientation. At the orientation were about 200 other students all going abroad for the year. It was amazing to meet people and exchange stories, concerns, and excitement for the year to come. We spent the next couple days together in orientations learning more information about France and rules of AFS. Then the afternoon of the 3rd of September we set off to Paris.
By the time we got to Paris we had gotten about 1 hour of sleep. But we were all so excited we were buzzing with excitement, at least some of us were. The rest were curling up on the airport chairs to get a little more shut eye before we were brought to our hostel in Paris.
Bienvenue A France!
Once in Paris we were given a great meal and after doing a little meet and greet with all the other AFS 2015-2016 exchange students we all went to a long nap until dinner. The next day we were able to go on a bus tour of Paris.
We formed a circle under the Eiffel Tower and did a little follow the leader with chants and dances. Pretty soon there were tourists walking around us taking pictures and videos obviously confused as to what was happening.
Then we went back to the hostel for more orientations and free time with friends. The next day we were separated by regions and put on trains, buses, and cars to our towns and host families. When I got off the train with the rest of my friends that were also in the Nord region.
We were greeted by our host siblings waiting for us. Two of my host brothers were holding an AFS banner. then they brought us to meet the rest of the families. They were all waiting for us in a restaurant. We were all told to introduce ourselves in French. My pretty much worst nightmare. I had learned how to introduce myself in French! Of course though, the moment that I need it, it abandoned me. I awkwardly introduced myself and I’m pretty sure my accent was all but unintelligible.
My family brought me home and one of my host brothers baked a chocolate cake while the rest showed me around the town by bicycle. It was so exciting! I had three host brothers and one young host sister! I was still jet lagged and living on very little sleep, but I was so alive with happiness it didn’t matter! We had a lovely and DELICIOUS dinner together and I was very grateful that my family speaks a little English. That night I went to bed so happy about my host family, town, and home. That’s when I remembered that the next day I would be starting school…. From 8:10-5-:30, ugh. But more on that later. 😉