Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Some pictures...

Well i have decided to update today just to add some photos...what i've been up to will come later in the week. On Saturday i took some pictures with my host sister Manon and my host brother Aymeric. They're pretty crazy but i'm sure you'll enjoy them...

My host brother with his most prized possession....the wii

My host sister and i...with my host dad in the background

The three kids...i feel sorry for my host parents sometimes...we're pretty crazy as you can see

We make great models eh? Aymeric is wearing my jumper and i'm wearing his old's so small because it's for 10 year olds...i have no idea why he has it cos it's too small for him too

My host sis and i showing you our matching shirts...i've only bought clothes once since i've been here and i managed to unknwowingly buy a shirt that she already just proves that saying great minds think alike...and we think it's pretty cool

Well i think that's all for now...until next time!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Quick update

Well this is just a little update to let you guys know what's been going on for me in the last week. Nothing too much out of the ordinary so i'm just going to tell you the interesting things.

Well on Wednesday i had the day off school and i did a lot of sleeping and relaxing until my host siblings got home at lunchtime. The afternoon also passed in a relaxing manner and then my host sister invited me to go to the hospital with her to have her ultrasound. At first i was a little apprehensive about going but i didn't want to miss out on the opportunity to have this experience with her and see the baby so i did go. It was pretty cool and i got to see the baby's head, hands and umbilical cord. She's around 3 months pregnant so it's too early to know the sex of the baby but it is healthy which is the main thing. The doctor also had a funny accent because he's russian so it was quite cool to listen to him speak. It was also cool when my host mum told me my accent in french is much better than his. 1 Point for Mel. My host sister also decided that i can be the baby's aunty so i find that quite exciting...and because i'm not going to be here next year she wants a picture of me to show the funny?

Well yesterday i had a meeting after school about the trip to Spain with my class. We leave Sunday 4th April and get back Friday 9th April. It was the first real information i got about the trip so it was quite exciting. The bus trip is about 14 hours though overnight so i'm not so keen on that. I will be staying with a host family when i'm there, so it's an exchange within an exchange. I'm actually quite nervous about this trip because i don't know Spanish and i don't know too many people who are going. I will be staying in the host family with at least another student though so it will be good. We're going to Madrid and during the days we are going sightseeing all around the city and seeing all the sights. It's sure to be a great week and when i get back it's Easter holidays. Yay!!!

Not sure what else there is to tell you. Tomorrow my friend Denisse may be coming over for awhile but we're organising that tomorrow. If it's nice on Sunday my family and i are going to go on a picnic with my third host family. They are family friends of my current family so it should be fun. We're going to go to a town nearby that my host dad has been keen to show me. He says there is a nice lake there so i bet i'll do some walking!!!

Je parle plus de français maintenant, surtout à l’école et j’ai trouvé que c’était assez difficile d’écrire en anglais. Bientôt je vais oublier mon anglais !!!

À bientôt
Bisous xoxo

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Random stuff

Well it's another week and since i don't really have that much exciting news i'm going to explain some of the things i've discovered since i've been in France...good, interesting and different.

Well i'm going to tell you a bit more about school because for me that's something i found, and still find, very different to Australia. It actually makes me appreciate being educated in Australia and realise how lucky we are when it comes to school. I miss school in Australia which is quite funny. First of all hours here are long...8am starts and 6pm finishes and one hour in the middle of the day for lunch. Lessons are an hour long but usually french and history and geography are double periods. For those who don't know students in France can choose from three streams of subjects, L, ES and S. I started off in an ES class and now i'm in L. Within these streams there are set subjects with very limited choice over other subjects. Everybosy gets to choose a specialty for two hours of lessons a week but thats pretty much all the choice they get. ES and S both have two classes in my year, premiere, btu in my class, L, there are only 9 people, all girls. This isn't surprising because it seems to be the more rigorous and serious stream with more difficult french lessons and an emphasis on langauges. The lessons here tend to be quite boring with teachers using a more lecture type style and expecting the students to make their own notes. Homework and tests are given often with very high expectations and pressure put on students. Marks are usually out of 20, sometimes 10, and anything of 12 or higher is very much acceptable. Teachers have a friendly relationship with the students though, just like a home, and they can be very reasonable and supportive. One thing that really surprised me when i first arrived though was that the French have not discovered substitute teachers. If the teacher isn't there you don't have class so some days end surprisingly early. In fact i have no school at all tomorrow because i usually only have two hours of french but the teacher isn't there so i don't have to go. Another thing, lunches are provided free for all students enrolled at the school and they are full hot lunches including bread, fruit, dairy and desert. They are usually pretty good but some days none of the options are very appetising. What else about school...hmmm. Well sport here is pretty funny for me because so far i've done two sports that don't really exist in Aus. I did two weeks of handball when i first arrived and found that quite fun. Since then i've been doing course d'orientation which is also fun but i personally fund it pretty dangerous. Pretty much we get on a bus and go to a special location about 20 minutes out of town. We have to get in pairs and i go with my friend Manon and each pair is given a map and a piece of paper with the numbers 1 to 30 on it.On the map are the corresponding numbers in red and they are stations that you have to find. You record the stations you find by punching a hole on the numbered piece of paper. The tricky and dangerous part of it is that you're in full woods with limited trails, running on uneven ground and rockes, crawling under barbed wire fences, trying to fight through prickly bushes and all just to get the hole punch. Last week i ended up with scratches all over my hands and legs, i slid down two steep dirty slopes, nearly killed my ankles numerous times and went down one leafy hill on my bottom. It's a heck of a lot of fun though and it feels so good when you maanage to find one. It's also very physical because it's one hour of navigating through the bush and running to try and find as many as you can. Ahh i love it!!! Another thing i found different and a little bit shocing at first was the number of people who smoke here. After every two lessons there is a ten minute break and practically everyone heads just outside the school for a cigarette. I always go with my friends but they know i don't smoke and they don't mind. They think i'll smoke by the end of my exhange but that's one aspect of french culture i won't be adopting. I've also surprised the other exchange students by doing the classwork and homework here. They tell me i don't have to do it and that they don't do it but for me it's something i feel i have to do. Although i have finished school at home part of my life here is school and i feel like i should take it at least somewhat seriously. I also think it helps me learn french and the teachers seem to like that i try to do the work. I always do the work in maths and english....maths is an easier level than i did at home and english is english. For one of my english teachers though i have to do all the work in french and i find that very beneficial. Last week i had to do a presentation on my values that my class did in english..i got 7.5/10 for mine and i was pretty happy with that. I also helped my friend with hers and she got 8/10 so i'm really happy for her. She's really improving and she's so happy that she's getting better so i'm glad i can help her. The only subject i struggle to do the work and homework in is spanish but i try my best and do whatever work i can.The other thing is the lack of uniform factor. To be honest i hate's so much easier waking up and putting on a uniform. Not having to worry about what you're wearing or what you look like is so much better. Some girls here go so over the top at school it's crazy...

What else can i tell you about my french life...Oh yeah english music here is very popular and whenever i listen to the radio in the car majority of the songs are in english. It's also pretty funny because my host dad sings and plays guitar and he sings along to the radio with his cute little accent. I swear they don't know what they're singing though sometimes because some pretty obscene songs that would never be palyed unedited at home are played quite often here and they sing along to all the words. It's also very popular among kids in my class to swear or sing in english a lot...some kids swear at me in english whenever they see me. Not because they're being rude but because they know i'm Australian and that's the only english they know.

Another strange phenomenon here is that i'm expected to be the expert on everything that happens in the english speaking world. Which is fine if i know the answer but it's been very awkward all the times i've had to say, "je ne sais pas". People have also been very curious about Australia and my life there. Australia, and the people, have a good reputation here and everyone loves to talk to me about my country...especially kangaroos haha Being in France has made me realise how much i really do love Australia nd the lifestyle.. There are definitely things i love here and i'm going to miss when i go home and France will always hold a special place in my heart but i really think i want to live in Newcastle. I just love the city and the beach and the people and the atmosphere.

Well i've made quite a few lists since i've been here. Things i like, things i don't, things i miss etc. I think it's a good time to share some of them.

Let's start with things i love about FRANCE:
- The sheer beauty of this has some breathtakingly beautiful landscapes and the grass is actually green here.
- The history: everything has some historical tale attached to it and the architecture is so old and fascinating.
- Can't go past the churches or the castles either...they're always so gorgeous.
- The pride the french people have in their country, it's history and their language.
- The close proximity to other i love that aspect of europe
- the's so pretty and i feel so good when i speak it.

ok now on to things i don't like about France (YET!!!):
- The cold...well here at least..winter was freezing and soemtimes i seriously thought my toes were going to fall off they were that cold.
- The food...well at least the meal times..only having three meals a day is a real struggle for me..i still get hungry at times when i can't have a meal and struggle to eat heaps at the meal time
- getting up so early for school..6am wake up calls
- the amount of swearing used in conversation
- the smoking

and finally the things i miss about Aus:
- my family and friends...there really isn't a day that goes by where i don't think about you...lots of things here remind me of you and when i see such beautiful things i wish you could be here to see them too.
- My pets..i miss cuddling and playing with them...having pets here just isn't the same
- Speaking english and understanding what's going in all the time..i miss not feeling lost in conversation and not having to worry about somebody asking me a questions i can't answer
- feeling completely comfortable
- the sun, the heat and the beach
- the aussie attitude and people
- being able to drive and being independant
- coaching and being at the gym
- my own bed and my bedroom
- KFC and all other food that i love at home

Well i know the i miss list is kinda long but i really am having a great time ere at the moment. The list is just a bist of refelction on my two lives...yes i consider them two lives. For some reason they don't seem like the same life to me. They're so different and separate at the moment.

Well one last thing to add. I feel like i have the most amazing host sister int he entire world. We have such a great relationship and she feels just likea real sister to me. We talk and do homework and watch movies and tease each other and have fun together. It's so great knowing i have someone i get along with so well to talk to here and relax with. I can't believe how great this family is for me and how lucky i am. They're not perfect but no family is and i have no major problems. I also think i'm not a person prone to complaining so i just focus on the good stuff..and there is quite a lot of that so i'm stoked. I also think they are happy to have hosted me so i feel good about that. They love speaking english sometimes and helping me with my french so i hope they feel hosting was a positive experience for them. Well that's the end of my reflections for now. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Un autre jour...

I know it's only been a day since i last posted but i have lots of time to write today because i finished school at 10 and i'm waiting for my host mum to pick me up at 12.

So yesterday after school my host brother asked me to play soccer in the front yard with him and my host dad. We mucked around for about an hour kicking the ball around,chasing each other, shooting goals in their mini basketball hoop and just generally having fun. It was nice to be doing some exercise outside for a change without it being too cold.

When my host sister got home from school she came into my room jsut to say hi and we talked about our days. Afterwards my host siblings and i pretty much spent the rest of the night in my bed looking at my photos, talking and watching the movie Madeline in english from my computer. I also found out last night that my host sister is pregnant and she's due in September so i'll be here when the baby is born. It's also due between the 15th and 31st of Septmeber and my birthday is the 13th so i'tll be around my birthday perhaps. I think that's pretty cool...

At the moment i'm definitely at a high point of my exchange rollercoaster and although i can't see the turns ahead of me i hope they are just like this because i'm really enjoying the ride. I'm at the point where i can see how it may be difficile to leave this town at the end of the year. Luckily i still have about 9 months before i to enjoy it before i have to worry about that! I'm also at the point where if someone offered me the chance to go home tomorrow, no questions asked, i wouldn't take it. I've made it 2 months here already and i have too much to look foward to here now to leave it all behind just because it might get hard again. I've had some great times that i'll never forget and i wouldn't give them up for anything. I AM going to make it to the end and i AM goignt o have lots more great moments to enjoy. Don't get me wrong, i still miss home, Aus, my family and friends and i think about them everyday but i know they're happy if i'm happy so i'm goingto enjoy myself as much as i can. I also know that my life in Aus will be waiting for me when i return in the not too distant future and i want to live this up while i can. I only have this chance once so i'm determined to make the most of it!

Well on to other things... As you can probably imagine i have quite a bitof free time here and while i now have internet connection on my laptop, and i do a lot of things with my host family, i'm really missing reading and being able to escape into that other fantasy world that is presented to you. I brought with me a nintendo DS game with 100 classic novels on it but whileit is extremely practical and they are fabulous books that i plan to read in the future it's just no the kind of reading i'm craving here. I don't want the intellectual stuff....i want the brilliant can't put it down writing. I also have Harry Potter 1 here in french but that takes so much concentration and time to understand it so it's not the same either. I really just want a good Jodi Picoult or Harlan Coben book to delve into... but for now i'll just have to manage with what i have because english books aren't too readily available over here.

Quoi d'autre, quoi d'autre...Sice i've been here my imagination has also kinda gone a bit wild because i have so much time to think and plan and daydream. When i went to the Pyrenées with my host family and stayed with Mami my interest in scrapbooking took a giant leap. Mami does a lot of scrapbooking and i looked at all her albums which are really good. It made me really really keen to make a scrapbook about my exchnage when i get home and i've taken lots of photos and collected lots of things so that i can make it great. I think it will be a great way to look back at my year and keep all my memories in one place. I keep a journal here and i writein it every night so that will helo me make it when i get home. Hopefully i'll be creative, and motivated, enough wheni get home to capture all the wonderful moments of my exchange in the scrapbook so that i can look back on them forever....and have something cool to show the grandkids lol

Well that's about all for today. My plan for my afternoon off school is to relax and then go through all the french grammar sheets i was sent from home and make my own little summary. I really want to be the best at this language i can be when i go home so i'm going to do everythingi can to help myself learn.

p.s I also went back and aded to my very first post here. At the time i didn't have much time on the computer but i'm sure some people may be interested in what went on. I'd also like to have that record for myself while i can still remember.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

another week in the french life

Well it's been another week and i'm surprised i've actually managed to keep this up so far. I find i write about the same events so many times her eto so many people so when i come to write my blog i'm almost tired of writing. Maybe i should do this first and then copy and past the text afterwards...that might be smart.

My past week has pretty much just been a normal week for me here. Last week wasn't a great week for me though so i'm kinda glad it's over. The weather was pretty crappy, school was boring and i was tired after my big weekend in Spain. I'm happy to say though that so far this week has been much better. I've been here nearly 2 months now...where has all the time gone?!?! I did start those special french classes au college and they were good. I'll be going every Thursday and it's practically all french grammer. Last week we did really easy stuff that i could already do so the teacher said she'd find some harder work for me to do. My writing and reading is at quite a high level here and my understanding is definitely coming along i just need to improve the speaking. I have had conversations in french though so i'm improving. I think i'm doing quite well for how long i've been here.

Well i'm currently sitting here at school on the computer trying to fill in the time until my host dad comes to pick me up at 3.30pm. I finished at 12 so it's quite a long wait but that's the story of my life here. I usually find something to do to fill in the time either at school or en ville so it's not really much of a problem. Now that the weather is finally starting to get warmer it's nicer to wait outside too.

Well i might start this post with my weekend. My weekends here are my chance to sleep-in and relax and i really do take advantage of that opportunity by sleeping in until about 12. My host family don't mind though so it's all good. Saturday after lunch i spent some time on the computer and then my host mum, host sister and i went to the neighbour's house. My host brother was a bit upset because he wanted to come but he was told it was just a girl's thing haha. The neighbour's have two young kids, a girl and a boy, and so we decided to play the wii. We played this game called just dance, which is pretty much the dancing equivalent of singstar. There are lots of songs to choose from with different levels of physical exersion and technique. We had four players at a time and it was absolutely hilarious to watch. It was heaps of fun and even though i felt stupid it was good. I even managed to win once to the song, "Fame". Go Me!!! Then when the guys got home we relocated to our house and the game continued until about 9pm. My host brother then started a pillow fight but he ended up surrendering because i was too good (read: my host mum made him stop because she thought he'd hurt me. lol fat chance of that happening becuase i was def winning)Then we had dinner all together and it was some really nice carbonara pasta. It's times like these (haha my head just said "you need minties" anyway back to the story)i'm so glad my host dad is a chef.

Sunday was another long sleepin and restful day spent on the computer. After lunch my host brother went to his friend's house to do homework and my host dad went to work so it was just us girls at home. We played a card game and after they had managed to explain it to me we played for about 2 hours. I won so i was pretty stoked about that. Sunday night i talked to my mum and my sister on skype because it was my sister's 16th birthday at home. I got to see her open her present and card which was nice. She also got her licence so congrats about that Dani!!

Yesterday it was back to school but it's actually sunny here this week so i'm super happy. Everything seems so much better when it's sunny. School was school and nothing that exciting happened. After school i had an hour to fill in so i went for a walk around the town and finally took some pictures of the bridges. (see above when i can bothered to add them off my camera) I also bought a patch to put on my blazer and i was so proud because i managed to use french to buy it without the man getting confused. I'm planning on putting the patch, which is the crest of my host city, on the shoulder of my blazer. Unfortunately the ugly green Aus blazer happens to clash with my beautiful red patch. At least it'll stand out i guess...

When i got home yesterday i had a package waiting for me which is so exciting considering the amount of mail that's been lost between aus and here. It was a package of french work from a my old french teacher and some photos and things from my mum. So exciting to finally get something and not be disappointed because it didn't turn up.Last night after dinner i had a long talk with my host family about my life here, my exchange, how i'm feeling etc It was so nice to know that they care about what's going on with me. They also said that when i leave their family there will be a hole because ive really become part of the family and my host brother considers me his sister. It was very nice to hear that because i do feel like part of the family and i am so grateful that they have been so good to me. It will be sad to leave such an amazing family but i'll see more of them throughout my year. Especially because my next host family is my host mum's parents.

Well today at school i only had three hours of lessons. I was dropped off at 8 but didn't start class until 9 so i spent an hour doing english homework. I find some english homework here quite difficult though because the instructions and explanations are in french so i'm never quite sure what the question is asking. Spanish was ok and then afterwards i had english with my class. They had to do a talk about their virtues for 2 minutes in english and i had to do mine in french. I think they were pretty impressed by my french which is good because we were'nt allowed sheets or anything. After that class i had anglais de spé which is more advanced english. At the moment we're analysing advertisements. Some people had to do an impromptu oral about it but i'm first up next time. I don't really like this class because the teacher gets annoyed if i don't say what she expects me or wants me to say. It's hard because this is subjective english so our ideas aren't always the same or i might miss something. It's a little bit stressful for me.

Tomorrow i finish school at 12 and my host sister and i will be home alone all afternoon so we'll probably do something together which will be nice. Next Wednesday i'll probably stay in Villefranche and do something with the AFS student from Paraguay. She speaks really good english so we can talka dn we might watch a movie or something. It'll just be nice to finally do something with someone for a change.

I also have some exciting things to look foward to as well. In April i have my class trip to spain...then early May i have my next rotary weekend and they're always fun because of the amount of awesome exchange students in the same place at the same time...then later in May my best friend who is on exhcange in Belgium might be coming to stay with me for 5 days. If this works out i'll be thrilled and it'll be so much fun to muck around and have fun just like we would at home....then my euro tour comes right at the beginning of June....i finally got a reply from the travel agent about how to pay so that's being organised. Two weeks of travelling around Europe with other exchange students is just about the best thing in the world. Then in September my family is coming to visit. My mum finally got her passport (yes mum you were supposed to have that before i left home)and booked the trip so i'll have some time with them. Can't wait!!!

Well this turned into a rather long update...i had some other things i was going to talk about, like how i'm feeling here, and reading material and my scrapbook plans but i might leave them til tomorrow or whenever i next feel like writing.


p.s if you're wondering about the picture of me at the top i got bored on the weekend and took about 10 random pictures of myself. I decided i had to do something with them so here one is...

p.p.s leave a comment!!!!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A weekend in Spain

Well as the heading suggests i spent the weekend in Spain. I had a great but tiring weekend! We stayed at a lovely little hotel not too far from the French border in a place called Bossost. During the days we traveled 30ks to the ski slopes at Baqueira. The rotarians, Claudia and I went for walks in the snow, saw an igloo and did some toboggining with the 6 year old grandaughter of one of the rotarians. The snow was great and Marie-Sarah was so cute..she enjoyed giving me little french lessons and showing me her english, "what is your name?" lol

During the evenings we went to a Tapas bar and talked about lots of random things...i wasn't quite brave enough to try the sangria though. We then had meals at the hotel which were quite good. The second night though i was a bit shocked when an entire fish came out on a plate. The ehad and the tail were still attached and i had no idea how to cut it. It was pretty good though once i worked out how to actually eat it.

Back at school today and i was pretty tired..been feeling a little bit sad today but i'm sure things will be better tomorrow after a good night's sleep. I did end up changing classes and i'm now in 1ère L which is the literature stream. There are only about 7 kids in my class, all girls, and i'm not surprised there arent very many cos it's damn hard work. I now have lots of english and french, spanish, maths, biology, chem and physics, sport and history and geography. I like this class though because i use more french and we also join with another ES class sometimes so i've met heaps of new people. School is a bit boring at the moment though and i especially don't like anglais de spé. We're analysing advertisements and it's a bit too much like english back in Australia for me to enjoy it. The teacher expects me to be an expert and pick up all the symbolism and language techniques in the text etc I never expected to have to do this kind of thing here and i feel so bad for my classmates because they really don't understand the work..i'm starting special french classes soon though so i'm looking foward to improving my french. I'm starting to think in French now and i'm finding that quite exciting..

Until next time,