Friday, December 21, 2012

Bonne fin du monde!

Another blog entry so soon!?

I couldn't help it. December 21, 2012 was just such a good day for me, I want to write all about it.

"Have a good end-of-the-world! But Merry Christmas anyway."
I guess I could start last night. I was chatting with Natalia in Poland, and we were talking about Christmas. She linked me to Polish Christmas music on YouTube, and because I am a sucker for the joyful melodies of Christmas music, I was happy to listen to this one over and over again. Let's ignore the fact that I have no idea what the song is about (other than Christmas). It just sounds so wonderful!

Also, speaking of Christmas music, I can't stop listening to this song by MIKA, the singer I mentioned really liking in another entry. It makes me love the French language so much. (Like I didn't already love it immensely to begin with?)

As most people already know, there was that alleged prophecy about the world ending today. People in France know all about it too, but they look at it in jest. We laughed about it all day, occasionally bringing up that we would all die tonight or that the world would end. Well, I first heard about this date about five years ago, and I wondered, "What am I going to be doing on that day?"
Well, I never would have fathomed that I would be doing what I did on this day.

First of all, I gave a PowerPoint presentation on the life I have lived in the Philippines and the USA, which means I spoke French for 30 minutes straight (with an interlude of singing in Tagalog in between), and then had a 20 minute Q & A with the students in the class of Première ES2. I didn't know most of these kids, but they really asked a lot of questions and enjoyed my presentation (hopefully) as much as I enjoyed giving it. One part that made them laugh was when I said, "I LOVE big cities... and here I am in Parthenay." Nevertheless, I love my life here, and I don't have any regrets or worries.

Furthermore, I had brought with me various bracelets, keychains, and knickknacks with me to give out as gifts on my exchange. Because I need to get rid of them, I brought them to school with me and passed the Ziploc bag of them to my friends telling them to choose what they wanted. They were all delighted, calling me "trop mignonne!" I was very happy to see that they liked the petits cadeaux!

I gave this cell phone strap made in Korea to Noémie because she loves Asian culture
My friends Cléophée, Kelly, and Anaïs each took a bracelet!
I gave out more than that. Everyone was happy with what they got, and I was especially happy because now I only have few left out to give that I'll probably give out as blazer accessories to Rotary exchange students.
Speaking of my blazer, look at it now!

I would loooove to talk about certain things hanging on it (many of them have a story, in particular the keychain and bears you see hanging on the right sleeve), but for now I will talk about the pin that says, "I <3 MSF."
This week, the school was selling pastries during the morning break to benefit the organization Médecins Sans Frontières. Because it is one of my life goals to be a volunteer surgeon in an organization like that, I was happy to buy a brownie for 50 cents. Then I saw the kids manning the booth with these pins, and I just thought, "I need one of those on my blazer." I asked the particularly cute guy behind the pastry table how I could get one, and he told me that everyone who donates gets one. I scooped up the annoying coins that had accumulated in my wallet (seriously, I am getting pretty tired of the little 1 and 2 cent coins) and dumped them in the donations box, gaining a pin in return! It was such a win win situation; I got rid of those coins, they are going to an organization I care about, a fact that I can proudly display evidence of on my blazer (with ever-accumulating pins).

Before lunch, one of the various performances happening in the main entryway of the school was a guy playing the didgeridoo. Not entirely sure why. I haven't even heard a didgeridoo being played since I was in Australia 6 years ago, and I never thought that the next time I would hear it would be in a French high school on the day the world was supposed to end. I just love what random little occurrences life throws at me sometimes.

Next was something I'm not going to easily forget: the Christmas lunch. I don't know if I have already brought up how relatively fancy our school lunches are, but today it was especially fancy. I mean, look at this!

This doesn't even show the smoked salmon and foie gras that came as an appetizer option. (I didn't take any because this was already more than enough)
A nice full table of friends
By the way, what looks like an unassuming steak in the picture is actually kangaroo.
That's right, folks, kangaroo.
I have never eaten it before, and I didn't know it was kangaroo until I was about halfway done with it, but I found it tasty anyway. 
Within the space of an hour, I heard a didgeridoo and ate kangaroo meat.
I love Australia France!

Later, I spent the afternoon with other musically inclined students of the high school jamming out on guitars/ukuleles, singing different songs with the group. 

Tonight, I went with my host parents to the church in Parthenay to rehearse with the choir (all old people except for my brother Paul and me) for the Christmas mass. Although I was tired and my feet were freezing, the atmosphere was quite magnificent. The church is almost 1000 years old, and I was singing the old classic Christmas songs like Angels We Have Heard On High and O Come All Ye Faithful - their French versions. I found the lyrics to be very beautiful, and I love how the Christmas spirit can translate itself in any language, with melodies that are well-known throughout the ages and distances.

For real, now, I hope you all have a marvelous Christmas wherever in the world you may be.
I am loving France so much right now I can barely handle it.

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