Saturday, January 12, 2013

Ce qui m'est arrivé

If you don't speak French and think that this blog entry's title connotes something cryptic and mysterious that I am going to write about, you are wrong.
Sorry to disappoint you.
It only means "What has happened to me."
So what has happened since I ended my last blog entry in the end of the world?

Well, I could start with Christmas.
My Christmas was absolutely amazing! As I mentioned, I sang in the choir with my host parents and brother, in the magnificent old church at the center of the city. It's almost a thousand years old. Here's an old picture of it just to make it seem more "ancient":

It had been a while since I attended a Catholic mass, but I was familiar with all the rituals that went on during the one and a half hours nonetheless. The only difference was that everything was in French. Following the mass, we all went home and had this ENORMOUS dinner that lasted until about 1:30 in the morning. We had lobster bisque, smoked salmon, foie gras, lamb, potatoes, fruit salad, and ice cream cake. It was delightful, and the family atmosphere was fantastic.
These are the presents my family gave me: Chocolate, more chocolate, a Paris book, a little French novelette, an Edith Piaf CD with 100 of her songs (YES!) and last but not the least, my dear grandma gave me a STATIONERY SET!! I was so incredibly happy and surprised, because I had been searching for stationery but never found any, yet there it was, all glorious and Paris themed. Now I can write more fancy letters! I felt right at home, and it was a very successful Christmas in France. :)

Oh yeah, speaking of letters, I sent out ten for Christmas and got three back in reply! Adela went to South Korea last summer so she sent me a post card from there, Clay was in Aix-en-Provence recently so he sent me one from there, and Juliana gave me a handmade card (with a pop-up Christmas tree inside) too. Merci beaucoup, je les adore!

I also visited my first host family to wish them a Merry Christmas. They were happy to see me, and they handed my my school report card. I laughed upon seeing it. French class this year was exactly the opposite of last year: I had the lowest grade in class, and it was my worst class. (Beginner's German is my best class, which made me laugh too.) The thing that made me laugh the most, however, was that the class average was 12,33/20, and I got a 12,4. Um, don't ask me how. I don't even know. At least I can say my teachers like me.

Soon after Christmas I began writing my journal entries in French. I have quite a few entries that are completely in French now, and I don't write as much in English anymore. Granted, it's probably because I'm already completely adjusted into this not-so-new life, and I only have to write about what I did on a certain day instead of how I feel or what I learned or other such philosophical ponderings...hahaha.

You know how I mentioned that I used to detest ice skating and avoid it, but now I feel like I'm capable? Well, apparently, I can sew now too.
I came to France only knowing how to sew on a button because my mom made it imperative that I learn (to my reluctance), but eventually I evolved into sewing patches onto my blazer, and now guess what I made!

I wanted to make something representing 5100 that I could display, so I went to the cloth store. Unfortunately, they didn't have sew on patch numbers that would have made the job way easier. They told me I'd have to use ribbon and form the numbers myself. I groaned a bit, but I decided to take on the challenge. What can I say...I felt super proud of myself. It was meticulous work, and forming the numbers was a pain in the ..., but I like meticulous work involving my hands (hence my future career choice, a surgeon), and it paid off anyway. The flag is now hung up on my wall right next to my blazer.

New Year's this year was so memorable.
On the morning of December 31st, I found myself in a bar in Bressuire called La Promenade. I ordered a sirop de fraise à l'eau, and I drank it as I analyzed a sonnet by Baudelaire for French class, reflecting on the year, all that happened, and how it happened so fast. I also thought about how I could never have imagined that that was how I would be spending the last day of 2012.

At one random point, one of those stereotypical little old French men approached me and told me something like, "Let's finish the year with a bang! Best wishes to you for 2013!" We spoke a bit, and he noticed I was reading poetry, then began to tell me about how he took part in the War with Algeria and wrote a book of poems about it. He gave me the name of the book, Le Piton des Corbeaux, and because I can say I met the author in a little café on the last day of 2012, I will buy it when I find it.

For the rest of the day, Maya (one of my best friends here, by the way she keeps a blog too you should read it! invited Aarohi and me to her house in La Roche sur Yon, since her parents were throwing a huge party. It was one of those really classy parties where all the men wear suits, and even though we were the only teenagers, we still had a blast together. Here are some pictures of us!

Yes, we did toast to the New Year with authentic French champagne ;)

Of course, the countdown was in French. Maya, Aarohi, and I were probably the most enthusiastic as we counted down and after the clock stroke midnight, because after all, we were together, in France, having the time of our lives!

Now wherever in the world you are, here is a New Year's greeting for you, from my Rotary District, 1510.

Another thing that is celebrated here in France is "L'Epiphanie." One of the traditions is to eat a cake called the galette des rois. The galette des rois can be any sort of cake (as far as I know); the catch is that hidden inside is a little figurine, that can be any sort of figurine (as far as I know). The youngest member of the family goes under the table, and as one of the heads of family cuts slices, they yell, "Whose slice is this?" and the person under the table calls out a random name. After everyone has their slice, people start eating the cake until somebody finds the figurine.
Whoever finds it is named king or queen, depending on their gender, and they get a crown, and they get to pick their king or queen.
You can probably guess why I brought this up.

The king and queen of Deux-Sèvres! (It's in sepia because the original had bad lighting)
And my family didn't do it on purpose either!
Plus, I was able to pick a king because Joe the Australian was hanging out at my house that day.
C'était une épiphanie réussite!
(Even though I was really sad that day because it was the last time I would see him, seeing as he leaves for Australia today on the 12th.)
Despite the fact that the good bye was extremely difficult, I was happy I got to say a proper good bye, and happy I was able to have a friend like him living near me so I wouldn't have ripped my hair out being the only Rotary kid in the middle of nowhere (thanks Parthenay!).
It's hard to believe that now that the southern hemisphere kids are gone, the kids who arrived in August and I are going to be the "oldies" now to the new southern hemisphere kids arriving very soon (OH YEAH PARTHENAY IS GETTING AN AUSTRALIAN GIRL NEXT WEEK AND I CANNOT WAIT MORE ON THAT WHEN SHE ARRIVES). It got me to thinking that one day, my day of departure will come, and I will barely be able to believe it, if at all. I'm even almost at the halfway mark of my exchange.

Guess that means I'll just have to keep making the best of it like I have been!

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