Saturday, January 22, 2011

Just Thought I'd Post :)

Hello everyone!

I have decided to post... just because.

I am doing great here in France, where there is NO SNOW!

I wish that some of that New England snow could come our way because if we don't get snow soon, the ski season risks to be not too active.  There was no more than 20cm of snow on the slopes where we went last weekend, there were places all over where you could see the ground.  I'll bet that you New Englanders will not be seeing the ground for a while :)

I have just realized that my experience is already half over!!

It seems like just yesterday when I stepped onto the plane at Boston's Logan Airport saying goodbye to my Mom and Dad for 10 months on my way to New York and then France!  And now I have my mid-experience AFS weekend coming up next weekend!

I am about to reveal some of my feelings from the beginning of my experience and all of the progress that I have done over the past five months in France.

First of all, it is hard for me to speak English now.  I would much rather speak French and it comes much quicker to me! When I talked to my parents last weekend, they told me that I was developing an accent!!!!  English class is still not hard, but I actually have to think before speaking! I sometimes even stumble over my words!

I remember the first day of school, I walked up the hill to the high school and I had the feeling that I had a flashing neon sign over my head screaming "AMERICAN AMERICAN" and that everyone was looking at me.
Now instead of being freaked out every time I walk into the school, I stop and say hi to every person I know, or they stop me to say hi!

I have my routines now, for example- every Wednesday at noon, Adélie and I walk to the house together and make Ramen and watch The Simpsons before heading off to our saxophone lessons.  I feel like I am at home, you know where you are comfortable with your surroundings and can find something random like the scotch tape if someone asks you.  I am feeling really great about myself and the progress that I have made within the past five months, we had parent teacher conferences the other night and all of the teachers say I made great progress with the language and that I am a very good student!

I still have a lot of work, but it is getting better and I am understanding more and more.  I am off to watch Good Morning England with the family!!



Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ski Round II

This past weekend we went skiing again, and this time I fell down at least 10 times more than the first time.  We went to a different station, but I stayed at the bottom, the baby slopes.  I had to do that until I got the hang of the skis again.  It took me a while to get used to them, buyt after not too long, we went to a green slope, the easiest of them all.

It took me forever to finish the slope the first time, but I decided to go and try it again.  I did the slope multiple times and learned a few more tricks, how to maintain my speed, how to turn, how to stop etc.

I had a great time, the sun was shining and I had bruises all over the next day!  It is also true that half of the time I was on the ground. :)

That day was very nice and we ate classic Haute Savoie meals at the ski lodge for lunch.  It was a really beautiful day out, there was not a cloud in the sky, and true, not too much snow on the ground.  The ski season is not looking too great at the moment because the last time it snowed was before Christmas!  Half of the stations are either closed or have half of their slopes closed, and we don't know when we are going to get snow again.  Hopefully before February break!

I want to keep on skiing, even if I am on the ground most of the time.  It is so much fun and I want to improve so that I can ski whenever I want at a higher level.  I also consider it as a very active sport, the time flies by and you lose half of your thighs by the end of the season!

Toon in to more of my adventures soon and a Happy 16th Birthday to Adélie yesterday!!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Vacances de Noel: Part 3

This post is the last of three, but it is the most... let's just say interesting.

I have moved onto a new level in my life, I have now lived like a typical French person.  Just without the mustache and beret in Paris :) I have walked through downtown with a baguette in my arm though.

So, a quick quiz.

What is the first thing you think of (food wise) when you think of France?

Think about it for a minute and then look below...

YES!! I ate escargots! In fact, I ate TWO, to really try them.  They are really not that bad, very chewy and garlicky. That was it really, I mean they weren't bad, but I have to admit that they were very pretty.

That was the day before New Year's Eve, and then I tried something else on New Year's Eve. Oysters!  I also ate two, but the first was plain, salty, with no dressing, but the second was with a vinegar, which was better.  They were hard to chew, you just had to swallow them whole.  They were fine, but I would not choose to eat them again, at least I tried them!

So this vacation was very productive, with many new places, people and foods.  I am so glad that I am in France and am given all of these amazing opportunities.

Actually, I would like to take a moment to thank my Mom and Dad for making this experience possible. I love you guys.<3

Toon in soon to my new everyday adventures!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Vacances de Noel: Part 2

This vacation was a very important time for me because I met almost the rest of the family and friends. That means that during February vacation I will know almost all of the twenty something people that are going to be staying in the house!

I had already met Lucile and Adélie's godfather's families, because they came to Bonneville during the Vacances de Toussain in October.  I essentially met everyone at Christmas.  We arrived at Pamiers, at Anne's sister's house Thursday (the 23rd) night after spending the day at the Chateaux Cathares.

We met the family, Noyale (Anne's sister) and her husband, Phillipe along with their three children, Gwendoline (23 years old), Loïc (20 years old) and Gaël (13 years old).  We all got along very well and had a great time together. The other cousins were there too, I had met them in Paris also during the Vacances de Toussain, Erwan (Anne's brother) and his wife Faty, and their two boys Magsen (13 years old) and Treveur (10 years old).

I also got the chance to meet Mamama (Anne's mother) and Mamie (Phillipe's mother).  They were the typical grandmothers, spoiling the grandchildren and refusing any help, getting up, sitting down etc.  They were very nice though.

Christmas was a very important time for everyone. To be together as a family for those couple of days a year is very special to them.  In fact, this was my first Christmas, and it was amazing! Christmas Eve we ate cold meat appetizers and foie gras (I LOVE IT!) and champagne before evening mass at 8:35pm (20:35).  This was also my first mass, and it was very interesting for me, they essentially sang and the priest told the story about baby Jesus and all that.
Lucile, Adélie and I

We got back to the house around ten o'clock and went straight to the gifts.  The mound around the Christmas tree was so large the we thought it was going to take forever to open them all.  The tradition was that the youngest got to distribute the  presents, the means that Treveur had to go through them one by one and hand them out.  Good thing that everyone opened their gifts at once, because if not, we really would have been there all night. After all of the presents were opened, we just stayed together, talked and ate the "petits gateaux de Noël" (little Christmas cookies).  We went to bed around one in the morning and slept until 11:30am!  They simply enjoyed being together, with the boys playing Mario Kart on the Wii and the girls reading on the couch.

Adélie and I Christmas Day, relaxin'
The next night we went to a restaurant where there were 28 of us where I met all of the family friends. I met the family who lives in Nancy, where we went for New Year's. We had a great time at New Year's, with the same concept of being all together.  I really did enjoy myself in Nancy and it is now the beginning of a new year!

We came back Saturday (Jan 1st) to Bonneville to finish our last minute work.  It was true that this past week (the first week back) was filled with work, tests, and more work! :)

To be continued in a short Part III

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Vacances de Noel: Part 1

I hope everybody passed a nice holiday season and had a happy New Year 2011! These past two weeks have been packed with new places, new people and new food!  I am going to split this post into multiple parts because there is so much to tell.  I would like to start by the places I visited and an outline of my two week long travels.

To start, the first weekend (Dec 18-19) of vacation I stayed in Bonneville because I had a friend's sweet sixteen on Saturday and our band concert on Sunday (see previous post for more details).  We left early Monday morning for Perpignan (50km from the Spanish border) to stay the night with Lucile's godfather.  On the way we stopped at Orange to eat lunch and at Avignon to see the Palais des Papes.  In the 14th Century, Avignon was the home of the Pope.  The inside was very beautiful and very well conserved.

Palais des Papes
Tuesday morning was another early start and we were on our way to Barcelona!  I was so excited, another country to add to my not so long list of USA, Canada, Mexico and France!  What was interesting was that I did not need my passport, I took it anyway but since Spain is part of the European Union, once you are in, you are in, they don't stop you at the border and don't check passports very often.

Once we got to the hostel, we dropped our bags and went out to explore the city.  We visited the St. Catherine church, and took a walk in a public garden and saw another Arc de Triomphe. We also stopped to look at many interesting architectural work on an opera and many houses.  We also stopped to visit the Picasso museum, with the largest collection in one place from the artist.  That night we ate at Con Cargol (The Blue Snail, L'Escargot Bleu) and the food was amazing!  Afterward, only ten o'clock, we went to see the outside of the Sagrada Familia, the famous unfinished basilica by Gaudi.

Our kebabs at Con Cargol
Sagrada Familia
Wednesday, our final day in Barcelona, we went to visit the inside of the Sagrada Familia, which was architectually, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, anything-you-can-think-of-ly amazing. The Sagrada Familia took us the whole morning and then we set off to find the Park Güell.  We spent the early afternoon visiting the park and more of Gaudi's work, then we left for Perpignan again but this time to stay with Adélie's godfather.
Park Güell

Thursday we left Perpignan in the late morning and went to visit the Chateaux Cathares.  These very old medieval castles are situated on a rocky mountain, and the only way to climb is by foot. The trail was not  too long and it was so worth it because when we got to the top we could only stand and stare at either the beautiful castle or the mountainous view.  We visited the ruins of the first chateau and boy was it windy!  On our way up, the wind was so strong that we thought that we were going to fall over!  We then left for the second chateau that you could see from the first. We climbed another and slightly longer and steeper trail to get to the ruins.  This second chateau was on two levels, a lower, older part, and up another small hill, the slightly newer part.  There was not nearly as much wind at this chateau, but there were a lit more ruins to see.  

After we were finished visiting the chateaux, we made our way through the Pyrenees to Pamiers, where Anne's sister lives, where we would stay for the next few days and for Christmas. (For more info on Christmas and New Year's, toon in soon the next post is coming)

The view from Quéribus
At Pamiers I met the rest of the family and we had a very nice Christmas.  On Sunday, we relaxed most of the day, I had a play to read (Le Mariage de Figaro-Beaumarchais) and the boys played Mario Kart on the Wii.  We packed all of our belongings and headed out to Lamalou-les-Bains, 85km west of Montpellier, where we had a restaurant reserved for our family.  I know that it is not very common to rent out the restaurant for just us, but there were 28 of us!  That night we went chez Mamama (Anne's mother) to sleep.  Mamama lives in a small town called Fabrègues near Montpellier.  We stayed with her for a relaxing few days, hanging out as cousins and family.  Us girls took a short shopping trip to downtown Montpellier one afternoon and we had a fun time going into shops that we knew we couldn't afford.  

We left Wednesday night from Montpellier to go to Nancy, in the north of France to visit very close family friends. We spent the next few days and New Year's with them.  We went to the Marché Central (Central Market) Thursday morning to buy fresh produce and meat for that night's meal and for New Year's Eve.  In Nancy, we visited the museum of the L'école de Nancy and the Musée Lorrain.  L'école de Nancy had many forms of architecture that were conserved and was a new way of building and art.  There were many glass bowls and vases with intricate designs and multiple layers of glass.
La Place Stanislas at Nancy

We left for Bonneville New Year's Day and it felt nice to get back my new routines, and to sleep in my own bed again.  The next day was spent, of course, on homework and relaxing.  We had to prepare ourselves for the long week that was ahead of us.  Monday morning, I took longer than normal to get up,  and school seemed longer than usual.  To make Monday longer, I had karate just after schoool, so I didn't get home until nine o'clock.

It is now the middle to end of a long week and it feels like I had way more work than usual, I think it is time to get a good night's sleep and really wake up and realize that VACATION IS OVER!

Good thing February break is in only 8 weeks!!
Haha, I'm not counting down the days or anything...

To be continued...