Thursday, December 30, 2010

better late than never, edition 2?

(if you don't speak french - google translate is about to become your pal)  :)

depuis mon dernier post...


il y a beaucoup à raconter. :)

en premier, je voudrais dire que, enfin, je suis FLUENT. :D
je crois. au moins normalement je comprends tout ce qu'on me dit, sauf parfois des mots plus longs ou particulier. mais, pour le plupart, je pense que je peux dire que je parle courrament le français. :)
mais c'est vraiment ennervant qu'il me reste qu'un mois pour en profiter. je savais que ce serait le cas, mais quand même...

en deuxième.. il me reste qu'un mois! je peux pas y croire que 4 mois sont déjà passé. ma vie ici, c'est ma vie. ce n'est pas des vacances (même si mon emploi de temps indique autre chose), ce n'est plus un "programme d'échange", c'est ma vie. :) ça me parait pas que c'est un séjour, qu'il y aura une fin de cette expérience - c'est comme si j'ai demenagé. c'est une continuation de la vie, c'est pas une pause. ^^
j'ai peur que j'aurai vraiment du mal à me rintégrer (je crois pas que c'est un mot.. re-m'intégrer?) dans la vie chez moi. mes amis, mon lycée, un boulot, conduire... tout ça me parait vraiment bizzare, de l'avoir encore. dans un mois! dans un mois j'aurai tout ça. trop bizzare.
j'aurai autant de résponsabilité. je devrai retrouver un boulot, rechoisir mes cours, faire mes formulaires pour plusieurs bourses pour aller à la fac, faire plusieurs présentations sur mon expérience ici, mon diplome... la liste continue à tout jamais.
mais malgré tout ça, c'est vrai que je commence à avoir un peu hâte d'y retourner. :) mes amis, ma famille, même mon boulot... ça me manque. même si au début c'est un peu dûr, je vais vraiment apprecier toutes les choses de la vie américaine qui m'ont manqué.

alors, ce mois...

au début, c'était le lycée. que du lycée. :P (c'est vrai que je passe beacoup moins de temps au lycée que les vrais élèves français, mais quand même... :)
mes cours commence à être compréhensible. en histoire, j'ai répondu à une question! (c'était pas la bonne réponse, mais au moins j'avais essayé) en français, j'ai lu un livre (pas le même que les autres, mais je l'ai fini et je l'ai compris - mais je vous previens: si vous pensez à lire la petite fille de monsieur linh, ne le faites pas. :P ) et en maths, j'arrive à bien comprendre la matière, et j'ai même passé un examen. :) (je l'avais fait au premier lycée aussi, mais c'est différent)
Même que mes profs continuent à m'ignorer complètement, je me sens mieux à l'école. :) j'ai fait beaucoup de progès pendant le temps que j'ai passé en cours même si les autres se rendent pas compte... :)
avec les autres élèves... il y a pas vraiment de contact, en fait. :P ils sont pas méchants (pas quand je suis là, en tout cas... ^^ ), mais, sauf quelques unes, ils nous parlent presque pas. (et quand je dis "nous", ça veut dire miranda et moi - juste pour clairifier. :)
j'attends pas d'eux d'être nos nouveaux meilleurs amis, mais je fais l'observation parce que c'est different. chez moi, quand il y a des étrangers, tout le monde les suit, les parle, les prend sous son aile. mais là, comme c'est les études qui sont le plus important, comme on parle pas aux gens qu'on connait pas (surtout ceux qui parlent que en anglais...), c'est normal.
les profs sont assez gentils. ils peuvent pas faire grande chose pour nous, parce qu'il faut rester sur le chemin pour le bac et tout - ça je comprends bien. mais j'aimerais bien que, au moins, ils nous laissent suivre le cours comme les autres. il y a rien d'attendu de nous là. les profs n'ont rien de spécial pour nous à faire, ce qui est normal, mais ils attendent même pas de nous le même travail que les autres. il y a pas de travail du tout! déjà, on est dans la filière la plus facile, on a que 24 heures de cours par semaine, et puis on a pas du travail à faire. pas de devoirs, pas d'examen, rien du tout. au début, oui, on était trop content - ça serait facile, on pourrait faire du travail avec notre français et tout. mais maintenant pendant les cours on a rien à faire. si on essaye à suivre les cours, même si je comprends ce que le prof dit, j'arrive pas vraiment à suivre parce que je connais pas du tout la matière. :/ je me sens coupable de n'avoir rien à faire. surtout quand je reviens à la maison le soir, avec tout mon temps libre pour faire ce que je veux, et valentin a plein de devoirs.. c'est pas normal.
mais, je suppose qu'il faut en profiter pendant que je peux... j'aurai tellement assez de travail dès que je rentre chez moi. ^^

.. à part le lycée aussi, mon séjour se passe super bien ici. j'ai trop de la chance d'être avec cette famille. :) j'ai jamais eu de petits frères et soeurs, mais maintenant que, pendant ce moment, j'ai eu l'occasion, ça va me manquer tellement. :/
ils me disent toujours que c'est dommage que je suis là dans la petite appartement et tout, mais moi, je l'adore. :) j'en ai marre de l'espace! j'aime pas les grosse maisons américaine dont ont utilise normalement même pas la moitié de la place. même quand c'est un peu serré là, j'aime bien qu'on est tout près les un aux autres. ( c'est très possible qu'ils ont un peu marre d'être toujours tout près de moi, mais quand même...)
j'adore être près de tout, tout près du centre ville et tout... j'ai jamais été si autonome que je suis là. :) (c'est normal, vu que ça exige un peu d'autonomie de venir toute seule dans un pays étranger, mais même ^^ )
je prends le bus, le métro toute seule, je sais me rendre presque n'importe où s'il fallait. je me sens plus confiante en moi que jamais. :)
je suis si contente d'avoir eu cette experience. c'est trop dommage que je pourrait pas être ici pour plus longtemps, mais comme c'est mon année "terminale," celle-ci est la seule façon de le faire. :/
maintenant qu'il me reste si peu de temps, j'ai du mal à me placer dans une catégorie - plutot de placer "chez moi." quand j'imagine vivre encore en alaska, ça me parait pas du tout comme c'est ma vie. mais si j'imagine rester ici à tout jamais, ça non plus, c'est pas ma vie. là, ici, je suis chez moi. mais après... le futur, c'est bizzare d'y penser. ^^ il vaut mieux ne pas le faire.
pour maintenant, je profite de la vie française, de la merveileeuse famille française que j'ai tellement de la chance d'avoir. je fais des observations (ce que je vais ajouter toute de suite), je prends plein de photos (ce que je vais mettre aussi), et j'absorbe tout ce que je peux. :)
je suis tellemt reconnaissante d'avoir eu cette occasion. :) c'est vraiment inoubliable, et je sais que ça va me servir pour toute la reste de ma vie. et c'est trop magnifique de voir comment je fais du progrès en français. même si c'est pas très français de parler de son cerveau, c'est vraiment interressant de voir comment le mien marche avec cette nouvelle langue. :)
bon je termine ce post là, et je vais bientôt rajouter des photos et des observations et que j'ai fait :)

(et je suis désolée, j'arrive même pas à faire un résumé d'un mois en france sans faire une dissertation sur mes nombreux sentiments... gah. félicitations à eux qui ont lu ce post entier. ;)

à bientôt!

- katie :)

oh, p.s.:
i didn't use a dictionary at all! :D
not to toot my own horn, but...
toot toot!
;)
(but this also means you should forgive me for any complete nonsense in there.)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

ooooobservations.

  • school is serious business
  • tests are never, ever multiple choice
  • it's toally normal for a test to require at least 4 pages of written response
  • they have a lot of bad words :(
  • everybody's catholic, but nobody's "practicing"
  • "religion is for old people"
  • their school supplies are awesome
  • and very organized when put to use
  • dessert is an obligatory part of the meal - parents force their children to eat dessert.
  • country music doesn't happen here
  • neither do random holidays / days off of school
  • they just seem a lot less... festive? jolly? congenial? affectionate? zealous?
  • road signs are different
  • the sign for a speed bump looks like a mustache :)
  • it's not tailgating until there's an audible collision
  • there are no SUV's, or a word for them
  • all cars here are stickshift
  • they drive exactly like in the movies
  • they do the air kissy thing exactly like in the movies
  • ... they pretty much live just like in the movies.

 

things that bother french people:                                                       
  • burping/sneezing/hiccuping/making any sort of unexpected noises
  • smiling at strangers / cheerfulness
  • loud americans in the bus/metro (apparently)
  • being wasteful (letting the water run, leaving the lights on, not recycling)
  • giggling
  • noise outside
  • especially during meals
  • school (i guess that's international)
  • driving
  • saying entire words - everything gets abbreviated
  • living far away from family (far = an hour or more)
  • halloween :(
  • using the wrong form of "you" :P
  • being too casual in public - pyjamas are entirely out of the question
  • when i say "desolée" but haven't done anything bad

things that do not bother french people:
  • stinky cheese
  • stinky people smells :P
  • their hair, however it is when they wake up (this is awesome)
  • speaking english, whether or not they know what they're saying
  • listening primarily to english music... whether or not they know what it's saying
  • smoke
  • lung cancer...
  • being reeeeeeally close to other people when usinbg public transportation
  • kissing people's faces (i've been here two months and i still panic every time i encounter a large group of people i know)
  • when their teachers write in chicken scratch :(
things i heard about in french class that are very true:
  • french ads don't usually make a whole lot of sense
  • they talk FAST
  • they do the little pulling-on-the-eye thing when they don't believe something
  • they write in cursive, all the time
  • they are seriously meticulate in note-taking
  • teachers are authority, not pals
  • teachers change classrooms, too



p.s. i edited this list, because it sounded too pessimistic the first time. i need to learn to write only when i'm in a good mood. :)

    those magic chaaaanges...

    1) that song has been stuck in my head today
    2) there really have been a lot of changes since my last post!

    so - i'm in rennes, again. i left, but now i'm back.
    long story short, i'm no longer an AFS-er (sad), but i'm still here, and still gonna finish out at least my semester here (happy!).
    i'm staying with the letorts, a really awesome family that lives here in rennes.
    they have three kids  - antonin, who's five, lucie, who's ten, and valentin, who's fifteen.
    i'm going to lycée st martin, which is so pretty, and i'm in a class of about 15 people, which is nice. miranda's also in my class - she's another american here, and also a redhead! what a happy coincidence. :) she's spunky and fun and awesome.
    we're in the same class, so i get to not be alone, and i get to help her when she doesn't understand.
    it's really cool how i'm starting to actually understand the majority of what people are saying!
    i'm confident enough in my language skills to put french down as a language i speak fluently on my BYU app. :)
    oh, yeah. applying to college from a foreign country is even more awful than trying to do it from home.
    j'ai la flemme! (also a very handy expression)
    i'm getting even better at procrastination now that i'm here. i mean, there are better things to do than continue to further my education. like eating pastries. definitely a worthy substitute...
    especially after this weekend (vacay), my eating habits are... not what they should be.
    we went to le havre this weekend and stayed with delphine's mom. it was really great. :) it's kind of hard here sometimes to feel like i'm not totally crashing the party of their lives, especially when it comes to family time. but i just felt really.. belonging. :)
    it's really hard to think about leaving. i mean, i miss home. i miss a lot of things about home. i miss people at home. but there are so many things here i know i'll miss. my bus pass, having to really think before i speak, breaking cultural barriers every day, facilitating world peace when i participate in class, you know...
    really, though, it's cool to feel like i'm doing something important here. everything is coming together all at once, and it's really overwhelming, but i love it.
    my language is really taking off, so i can have real conversations and actually explain things - so when people ask me about america and why it's different, i can answer. i'm really getting to dig in and learn about the culture- it's like the initial "i'm in france!" shock has worn off, so now i can look around and see what makes it france. and i'm starting to really be at home at home, too.
    poof! all of a sudden i'm living this french life and i don't want to think about it ending.

    anyway, that's all for now, but i really am going to be posting more often.
    for serious. :)

    à bientôt!
    -katie

    p.s. pictures! :D
    
    the perfect strawberry, and xenia. :)
    
    all french children are adorable. proof.

    tomato picking!


    :)

    antonin :D
    this is what happens when young children stay up too late.

    au havre

    falaises à etretat

    etretat :)

    le mont st. michel

    in le mont st. michel :)

    
    "oh my goodness! the sun is on these fields but not those ones over there!"
    yeah, it's pretty. :)
    
    hailstorm! :D
    awesome.

    
    le parc thabor
    
    a rainbow over the train station on our way to school :)

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010

    better late than never... :) (chronicles of the first month)

    
    first school lunch. yummers. :)
    
    trying cooking frenchily. (apparently we do it all wrong)
    arc de triomphe!

    us. :)
    and the eiffel tower.


    louvre.




    super-cute farm/country store place. :)


    
    angers
    


    oh my gosh, i'm so embarrassed. it's been pretty much a month since i left home, and i haven't written anything real!


    ugh. in my defense, the internet in my room is not super strong. (i know that's a bogus excuse, but it'll have to do.)

    let's see, i've a lot to cover... let's start with orientation.

    so, the first one was in new york. that happened right after the last time i wrote on here. it was pretty good. the first day was weird. i got into the airport, by some miracle managed to follow the directions to terminal 5 (JFK seriously needs to work on their airtran labeling system), and arrived mostly in one piece. (there was an incident on an escalator where one of my suitcases made it onto the stair ahead of me, but the other caught on the armrest thing, so i had to run back up the down escalator and pull my bag down without killing myself, while the suitcase that did make it on was rocketing down the escalator towards some unsuspecting, possibly german folks)

    so, after i arrived at the jetblue area, i didn't see anybody that looked like they were with AFS. so naturally, i panicked, called my mommy, shed a few small tears, and continued searching. then, in one of the spots that i could have sworn i'd checked at least 3 times, i saw a familiar face! a facebook face...

    see, some really smart kids that are also going to france this year had the idea to create a facebook group before we left, so that we could get to know the other kids and prepare a little more. super idea, because if i hadn't known those kids from facebook, i probably would have tried to get to the hotel by bus or something - if you know me, the idea is laughable.

    so, i joined these marvelously familiar faces, and we waited for about an hour for some other kids that were supposed to ride over with us. turns out they actually did successfully get to the hotel on a shuttle (i applaud them), and we were off! the hotel was really nice. (now we know why an AFS exchange costs so much...) since we were some of the later arrivals, we pretty much jumped right into the orientation - movies about how AFS started, movies about how we should choose AFS (cool, we already did), movies about how it's gonna be really hard... we also played some games. one was, "let's play a charades-like game where instead of guessing words, we guess at ridiculously difficult phrases that don't make any sense!"

    i know i'm probably sounding really cynical here, but it actually was pretty fun. the activities were... less than joyous, but it was good just to be able to think, "oh, i'm not a nutjob. there are 129 other people here who are doing the same thing as me." good bonding. i called my mommy that night, and tried to prepare myself for the journey.

    then, the next day: THE FLIGHT! we had to wait around for a while (in our awful yellow sack-shirts with all our baggage), but it was well worth the wait. the flight was awesome. a-w-e-s-o-m-e. double decker plane, yummy food (no chevre, kristina!), the coolest in-flight entertainmentcenter ever, and of course, our very own cute french flight attendant. ;)

    when we arrived, we took a bus ride through paris to our hostel (can't tell you about that though, i was asleep - too much entertainment on the plane, didn't sleep a wink). the hostel was nice, too. not too hostile. ;) haha. us americans (amurrkins) were among the first to arrive, along with the australians / new-zealand-people. they have really strong accents, in case you didn't know. cute, but crazy. we didn't realize at first that they were even speaking english.

    they were making fun of us because we say youtube like "youtube," and they say it like, "yeeoochoobe". hmmph.

    anyway, the second orientation was a little better, i think, cause it was more focused on you're going to france" than "you're abandoning everything you know and going somewhere else for a long period of time." we talked about what the pressures would be, what our goals were, how to write our names on our school papers, etc. :)

    then, we went off to our host families! those of us in rennes got to take the TGV. the ride was so beautiful! it was in the morning, so the sun had just come up, the fields were all misty and pastel-y... it was so gorgeous. the pictures don't do it justice.

    so, we arrived at the train station, where our families came to pick us up. we got of the train, and there they were! it was really funny to see everybody do the exact same thing - scan, scan, double take, wide eyes, stumble over to the host family, awkward bises, and some smiling and gesturing. :)

    so, i left the train station with my family. i talked! in the car, i talked. i made a little joke and they laughed! it was good. :) we got back to their house, and we changed, ate lunch, and went on a hike. :) the first part of the hike was pretty great. it was really pretty, and everybody was speaking french, i was just soaking it up. then we got to the turning-around point, which was a small dam (we'd been hiking along "la vilaine" - it means the villain. it's the river that flows through rennes - it's called that because the water is kinda murky from the rich soil around it - they think it's ugly. i thought it was beautiful). there was a cute little house, too - where the dam-operator-guy lives. on the way back though, the 10 hour time difference definitely caught up. i was so tired! i can't really remember what happened after that. i think we got home, at dinner, and they explained my room and the bathroom and the lightswitches and stuff. and then we went to bed.

    i woke up the next day, and went to school! what a day. i didn't understand a single thing. except my english class, of course... ;) i had geography (jibberish), lunch (my first meal there, and we get hot dogs - really yummy, though - the cafeteria food is awesome), english (such a relief), italian (it's like, italian 4. so that was interesting), and science. there were supposed to be two math classes in there, but there werent. because.... the teacher was on strike! :D how awesome is that? if our teachers don't want to go to class, we don't have to, either!


    so the next day, i didn't go to school at all.no teachers = no class. there was a big strike because the french government is trying to pass a new law saying that retirement is no longer at 60 years old, but 62. so, to show that they won't want to work more than already do, they just don't work at all that day. :) my host family actually took me to a demonstration in rennes - wow. there were so many people, so much noise, so many signs, so much chanting (didn't understand it, but i think it rhymed). it was really cool. there were old people, young people, people with babies, people with dogs. it was a big deal. we found out on the news that it was like, 20,000 people. and millions all over france.

    turns out the law thing actually passed, though. like, the next day. i think it's sad that even though it was obviously very strongly opposed, they went ahead and did it. no second guessing or anything. i don't know if it's like that in america (i probably should know, oops), but it's sad. the demonstration experience was really cool, though.

    so, after that, we went home, i think. ate dinner, i went to bed, cause i was super tired. can't really remember much. :P (10 hours is a huge difference. i have a good excuse.)

    wednesday: went to school, had three hours of math, went home, went to a birthday party for one of the chadufauxs' friends, nearly fell asleep, went home, fell asleep.

    math was weird. i thought it would be the easiest to understand (next to english, of course), but it wasn't. we did stuff with heiroglyphs and roman numerals and stuff.

    the birthday party... wow. so we surprised her at her apartment, and she was really cute - very surprised. :) then we went in and had some munchies (all involved cheese somehow), and then went off to dinner at this restaurant with like, a dance room that they had rented out. we ate (yummy), and then there was karaoke and dancing! but i was so tired, i was falling asleep at the table. super embarrassing.

    thursday: the longest day of school. it was so hard. my teachers seem to have trouble understanding that i've got a lot of trouble understanding. :P but they're nice.

    that night, i came home, and fell asleep. like, i was doing homework in my bed (bad idea), and at like 6, i fell asleep and woke up at like 7:30 the next morning. and was still tired. :P

    friday: finally! friday was pretty good. i took the bus by myself. :) there was a lovely sunrise over the cute little town of pont pean.

    saturday: saturday, i slept in. i'm so tired. all the time! but, i got to sleep in, then have a lovely little lunch, and then go to a church dance! :D

    yeah, that's right, a dance. a dance in france. ;)

    i went in the early afternoon and helped decorate (communicated a lot with gestures - it's a good thing i play charade-like games so often with my friends at home - it's been coming in handy). then, we danced the night away! it was a dance at the church with everyone in the whole ward (congregation), so there were cute old couples, bunches of teenagers, cute little families... it was pretty great.

    There was also a potluck-type dinner after.

    Best potluck of my life. French food is just the bomb.



    i can't even remember what's been happening now! it's been too long. Bah, i'm so undisciplined. :P

    anyway, there you have a play-by-play of my first week.

    The second and third (and part of fourth) have pretty much been the same, but somewhat less exhausting. :)

    Let's see... there was another strike this last thursday. I didn't go to school, instead I went to Rennes with some buddies and explored. :)

    I've also gotten to go to a lot of super fun activities at the church.

    Like, every wednesday, the missionaries here have a ping-pong-and-pancakes night, where we play ping pong, eat pancakes, and have a smashing time. :)

    There's also seminary on Fridays (it's a church class - at home I go every day, we have a seminary building just next to the other high school in town - but here, we're more spread out, so we do it by phone every day except friday, when we meet together).



    Hmmm. Well, I've also succesfully gotten into Rennes a few times, ALONE, by bus. Not to toot my own horn, but I think that's a pretty darn cool/independent thing to do. ;)



    I've only gotten lost/confused with the bus system once, and it's totally excusable.

    Story time:

    So, I'm trying to get into Bruz, to meet up with a friend who was going to show me around. Turns out that the list of bus hours in the pamphlets only shows about a third of the stops - so, assuming that "croix aux poitiers" (the stop i now swear i will never return to unless i absolutely have to go to the supermarket that is located there) was the only one i could change at, i got there, figuring i'd get off, stand around for 10 minutes, and get back on the next bus in the other direction.

    NOT SO SIMPLE.

    so, there are two bus lines that use Croix Aux Poitiers. There's the 72 (pont pean - chartres - rennes), and the 59 (bruz- chartres - rennes). What I was supposed to do was take the 72 to C.A.P., then change there to the 59.

    The problem: there are four different waiting booths at C.A.P. Two are for the line 72 (and right across from each other), and two are for the 59. Now, from the 72 booths, you can see one of the booths for the 59. That's for the bus going towards Rennes. The one towards Bruz is nowhere in sight.

    Nowhere.

    It is the most well-hidden bus stop on the planet. I missed that same bus twice in a half hour trying to find the stop.

    Actual location of correct booth: across the highway, on the other side of it, no crosswalks nearby, obscured both by a giant industrial shopping place and prickly bushes/trees/death traps, about a quarter mile from the other stops, which are all within like 100 feet of eachother (I'm really bad at distance estimation, but that was the best I could do).

    Fortunately, I've chosen my friends well here, so I still got my tour. Just, you know, a few hours later. :)



    It's been a pretty crazy (almost)month. There's been so much more that has happened, but because I'm the world's biggest procrastinator, I can't get it all on here..

    I'm having fun, though. :) The first week was really hard. But it's turning out to be so great. :)

    Time really does fly when you're having fun. I'm 1/5 of the way through my exchange! Noooooo! I'm not ready for that yet. :(


    Well, I guess I feel like I'm sufficiently caught up. Kind of. Given the circumstances. (what with my procrastination and all)

    If I think of anything else that's really splendid that I've got to add, rest assured that I will do so.

    :)



    Well, I'm off to enjoy more yummy french food!

    A bientôt!

    -Katie



    p.s. other observations:

    - pickup trucks are nonexistent here.

    - their humor is different. They don't think sarcasm is as funny as we do. :(

    - they all wear the same shoes. (well, pretty much. bear with me on the hasty generalizations, here)

    - there is no such thing as lazy days. sweatshirts/sweatpants are a no-no. :( sad.

    - everybody has a trousse (pencil case).

    - they don't really have cutesy words for stuff. like potty, or yucky, or kitty, or really anything we add a -y to.

    - everybody pretty much has the same handwriting.

    - they all take notes the same way.

    - they don't snack.

    - nutella jars are glass here.

    - all cracker-type snacks are cheese-flavored. chevre-flavored cheeto things = :(

    - brown sugar is nonexistent.

    - same with chocolate chips.

    - when they cook, they measure by eye.

    - all french children are adorable. (not a generalization, that is 100% fact.)

    - normal french = elevated english.

    - the bises are really weird to get used to. :P

    Sunday, September 19, 2010

    fun facts! :D

    so, because i know you've all been waiting with baited breath for me to post again, i'm going to. :D hooray!


    also, i'm really sorry i haven't posted in so long. i know there are like, 10 people reading this, but still. i feel guilty about not writing. i promise i'll be better. :)

    now, instead of giving away all the news and details that i'm saving for my real blog post, i'm going to make a list (probably a long one) of observations i've made about france. and french people. :) they're obviously huge generalizations, but that's okay.

    without further ado, here we've got (in no particular order of fun)

    FUN FACTS ABOUT FRANCE:

    • it's beautiful here.
    • the chti language really exists.
    • thankfully, i'm not that far north. but there is another language here in brittany that some people speak - breton.
    • ratatouille also exists, and is yummy. :)
    • msot of their music and movies are american. (movies are usually dubbed, though).
    • they love amercia (more applicable to teenagers).  
    • apparently my school is just like everything they ever hoped for. :)
    • they do eat a lot of cheese. 
    • a lot of bread, too. 
    • in terms of food, everything we can do, they can do better. (except mac and cheese, hamburgers, and pb&j) 
    • speaking of pb&j, they think it's weird. lots of them have never had peanut butter, and they think it's crazy to put it with jelly. they lose cool points on that one. i love pb&j. 
    • they do wear black (or navy) striped shirts a lot.  
    • they are super put-together. it's intimidating. 
    • they are also really big on ironing everything/ not having any stains on you. pretty unfortunate for me. 
    • most everybody under 30 speaks at least a little english.  
    • the boys are super cute.  
    • ;) 
    • everything is smaller here. people, serving sizes, houses, cars, fruit... 
    • facebook is huge. 
    • the countryside here is the cutest thing you ever saw. it is exactly what you might picture when you think of "calm, lovely french countryside." complete with rolling hills, random groves of pretty trees, old cottage-y houses, with laundry drying in the wind... (*sigh*) 
    • laundry is dried on a clothesline, by the way. it's very pretty.  
    • but, everything is stiffer. and your jeans don't shrink back. and apparently all your socks dissapear. :P 
    • everybody speaks french, all the time. (i know i sound like an idiot putting that in as an observation, but sometimes it hits me, and it's really shocking all of a sudden. i dunno.) 
    • school = ETERNITY. seriously. thursdays are 8:30 am - 6 pm for me. ewwwww. 
    • and both the teachers and students switch rooms after every class. i don't get it, but whatever. this also means that the rooms aren't decorated at all. it's very dreary - in the hallways, the walls are cement. in the classrooms, the walls are plain white. 
    • my school also only uses flourescent lighting. AAAAAAHHH. :( 
    • you also don't pick your classes. you pick a "track," sort of. there's ES (economics and stuff), S (math and science), L (litterature - that's what i'm in), STG (i think that's general stuff - or management). there are some other ones, too, at speacialty schools.  
    • so, in your track, you get to pick a few options. like, for L at my school, you can choose two languages out of 5, and you can choose whether you want more math or more english.  
    • then, you have a class that you go to all your classes with (besides the ones you picked - then you just go with the ones who picked the same stuff as you). my class is 26 girls, and one boy. and we spend all day, every day together. 
    • there are no school sports. or any extra-curricular activities, really. 
    • a lot of teenagers smoke. (not a fun fact at all.) 
    • the buses are starting to make sense to me! :D 
    • there are no lockers at school. (well, there kind of are, but they're tiny, and there's only like 50. it's a one-time use sort of thing.) 
    • cafeteria food is AWESOME. (see above statement about food) 
    • there are a lot of false cognates between english and french. 
    • there are more real cognates - if i don't know how to say a verb, i say it in english, plus a french accent and -er on the end. it works about 2/3 of the time. 
    • some people (especially women) make this weird hiccupy/gasp noise randomly throughout conversations. i think it's some sort of emphasis thing.  
    • they also do it sometimes when it's dead silent. 
    • they're not all like parisians. they're very friendly, if you are. 
    • nobody says "zut." they say a lot of things in exclamation that i won't repeat. :P 
    • they also say "mince." (it means skinny.) i think that one's safe, though. 
    • they are super-scheduled. like, they make plans on saturday for the next friday. and they eat at the same time every day, together.  
    • they have lots of slang / abbreviations that don't make any sense. 
    • "lizzie mcguire, you are an outfit repeater!" would never happen in france. people wear the same shirt, or the same sweater, or the same pants, a few days in a row, and it's totally normal. especially for teachers. like, you could wear the exact same thing every day for a week and it wouldn't be werid. 
    • their plugs (and the voltage) are different. (kind of obvious, but maybe i just saved somebody from frying their laptop or something several years down the road.) 
    • they have big noses. (okay, obviously not all of them, but kind of a lot.) 
    • they really think americans are fat and stupid and uncultured.  
    • they might be onto something... 


    well.

    that's all i can think of right now. but, when i post more posts, i'll stick extra random observations in there. :)

    i'm doing pretty well, too, by the way. :) my first week was hard. but things are looking up, and my french is already taking off. it feels good to really get going. :)

    well, i've gotta go so i can eat some really yummy dinner with my host family, but i'll post my real post soon (it's in draft mode still).

    à bientôt! :D



    -katie (now prounounced kha-tee)

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    going, going... gone?

    I'm in The Salt Lake City airport now, which means I've officially left the nest.
    I can't say the flight was particularly exciting - the highlight was waking up just in time to get the cookies. But I didn't sob through the entire trip, so that's good..
    My friends (and my dear mommy) came to the airport with me. Let me tell you, I've got the best ones in the whole world. Sorry for hogging them. :)

    Yesterday, I was totally freaking out. Like, I'd be packing, and walk by the bathroom, and think, "oh my gosh, I have to pack enough hair-ties for five months. That's how long I'm going to be gone." (I also just remembered that I only brought two. With my track record for losing things, we'll see how long those last...) And then, I'd shuffle over to my mom's room and cry on her shoulder for a while. My tear ducts are still malfunctioning from crying so much - my eyes start watering for no reason like, every 3 minutes.

    So, yeah, I cried a lot yesterday -  but I'm starting to remember why I was so glad to be able to go. I know I'm going to learn so much - not just about speaking french, but about being confident and assertive and leader-ly and outgoing and eating vegetables and all sorts of other wonderful things. :)
    I'm beginning my adventure, and I haven't really realized it yet. LAst night, I had a better grasp on it, but right now, my mind hasn't really caught up with what's going on. Which is probably just as well, seeing what a mess I was yesterday...

    Anyway, I plan on posting again at some point during the orientation.
    Sorry if these posts kinda drag on, but until I really learn the art of journal-keeping, that's kind of what this is gonna be. :)
    à bientôt!

    -katie

    p.s. picture! :D this is my lycée. (sorry, it's the best picture i can find...)

    Tuesday, August 31, 2010

    today's the day?

    I'm leaving tonight.
    I don't mean that, do I?
    I am SO not ready to leave. I love it here. When I first moved here, I never thought I'd become so attached. I didn't particularly like my house, the weather was never good enough, the winters were too cold, our school was too boring, and on and on...
    And today, I live in the most beautiful house on the whole planet, I can't imagine life without the mountains and the clouds, I'm going to miss out on all the snow fun, school is better than ever, and I can't imagine five months away without my best friends, or being able to come home and cry to my mommy when I need to.
    It is entirely true that you don't know what you've got till you lose it (or are about to).
    I keep having to remind myself (actually, my mom reminds me) that all these things will still be here when I get back.
    I told her I've been listening to depressing country music about leaving home and whatnot (I hate country music). She told me to stop, but I've been doing it anyway, and this is what stuck: "she couldn't wait to get going, but wasn't quite ready to leave." I know that's super corny, but that about sums it up.
    I know this is going to be a great experience - I picked the best organization I could find, they found a family for me that I'm so happy to have, and I have so much support from home. Still, though, five months... that's a long time to go without a hug from my mom. Not quite ready to leave.
    I don't know if I'm supposed to always be cheerful or something on here, but that's out the window at this point. :P
    Seriously, though, to any new AFSers that read this: Obviously this is a hard part of the exchange, and I'm being pretty dramatic about it;  but anyone who's gone, is going, or is getting ready to go (that's me!) can tell you that your exchange will be so worth all the heartache that comes with it.
    So: I plan on crying all the way there, then sucking it up and making the best of it with the hundreds of other exchange students that are doing the same thing. And it'll be alright. :)

    If you read through this, and think I'm a sap... well, there you have it. :) Thanks for reading anyway.

    A bientôt,
    -Katie

    p.s. Oh! I talked to my host family yesterday morning. They must think I'm a total idiot, because I forgot most of the things I was going to say to them. But they were so kind, and so patient. :) They even let me talk to their daughter, who's fluent in English. Which was also wonderful. :)
    I'm really excited, because I didn't know what school would be like - I though they'd have me enrolled in all math classes or something - turns out I'm taking all literature/language/a couple hours of math classes. Hooray! :D
    I can't wait to meet them - even if I can't understand most of what they're saying, they just seem so wonderful.

    Monday, August 9, 2010

    Info. (t-minus 3 weeks)

    Hooray! :D I finally know a thing or two about my host family, my town, and my school.
    So, there aren't any kids at home, but they have two grown children, and the family just seems really great. :) They live in the cute little town of Pont Péan, France (near Rennes), and I'll be going to Lycée Anita Conti, which seems really nice.  I have no idea what classes I'll be taking or anything, but I'm sure it'll be fun. :)
    As for what life will be like, from what I've gathered, I'll be walking to school (about 10 minutes away, I think). And it doesn't really snow there, so I don't have to worry about crazy -20 degree winter weather (not until I get home, anyway). I also know that they do some awesome gardening, so I'm pretty excited for that. Nothing green ever lives longer than a week at our house...
    Besides doing some serious digging in my AFS sutff to get all that info, I've been trying to prepare my french as well. Mostly this training consists of watching Enchanted in French over and over, and sometimes listening to french songs. :) It's pretty fun.

    I also just realized that I'm supposed to use my first real post to tell about myself and why I wanted to go on an exchange.
    So...
    I'm 17, and Eagle River, Alaska is my home. I'm kind of a bookworm, but I do love the outdoors, especially in AK. I'm not so much into long camping trips and shooting things and spending long periods of time swarmed by bugs, but i do enjoy nice hikes and bikes and things. It doesn't always work out, because I'm kind of clumsy, but I still think it's pretty fun. :)
    I wanted to go to France because for the three years I've taken french, I've absolutely loved it, because I wanted to experience a different culture (all of my siblings went to some of their secondary school in Asia), and, of course, because of the pastries. ;)  I heard about AFS at school through a presentation in my french class, and after hosting two girls (one from Japan and one from Thailand), I decided it was my time. So after completing an excruciating amount of paperwork, I was accepted and on my way. I now have three weeks left until I leave... It's crazy.
     As for what I expect from/want to get out of my AFS experience, I'm going to be making some serious efforts to be more outgoing and confident. I'm pretty good at hiding in my shell, but I'm starting to do better at breaking out of it. I'm also going to be working towards fluency. I'll only be there 5 months, but with my three years of preparation, I think I can do it. :) Optimism is key!

    I'll update with some pictures and things whenever I get them. I'm so excited! :D
    à bientôt,

    -Katie

    Thursday, June 17, 2010

    The Very First Post.

    Well, now that I've got a blog, I guess I'd better start writing on it. :)
    Let's see... So far, I've been accepted to AFS USA and France, attended a pre-departure orientation, and been informed that they found me a host family. The pre-departure orientation was pretty interesting... they pretty much just gathered everyone in Anchorage that's going on an exchange next year, and had us talk about what we expected (and feared) about our trips. There was also some very yummy food. :)
    As for my family, well, I don't know a thing about them besides that they have a cat. I  got a call a week or two ago from someone at AFS asking me if it was alright if my host family were to have a cat. I said it would probably be fine, and she said something to the effect of, "Okay, then we'll go ahead with the placement. Congratulations, you have a host family! Bye."
    If that's not suspense, I don't know what is. I'm hoping they get back to me on that sometime soon.
    Well, that's pretty much all the news I have. (except that it's also an extremely long and drawn-out process to get a student visa, and I'm not sure I'll ever finish.)
    I'll probably post again whenever I find out where I'm going.
    ... yep.
    -Katie :)