Friday, August 23, 2013

Destination Reached; Commence Exchange

Well yesterday morning I donned my oh so subtle Canadian Rotary Youth Exchange blazer, said goodbye to my dog, my house, my Mom, my Dad, and Tim Horton's *sniff* for a year and boarded a plane that would take me to Toronto.

Those were some tough goodbyes and it was hard not to spend my next 4 hours of useless time-wasting not thinking about everything I was leaving behind.  But finally I was in Toronto and my life in France felt more real and insanely closer than it ever had before (duh).  Luckily I spotted a lovely little clump of bright red, pin covered blazers in the food court at the gate for the Paris flight and waltzed on over to make some new Canadian friends eh! There were 8 of us in total heading for Paris on the same flight, and what was so cool is that even though we were from all over Canada, all of us were in the exact same position, feeling the exact same things, and had spent our last 10 months gearing up in the same way for this hugely monumental year ahead; I felt like I already had 7 new bffs and all of us had just met.

That flight was another long one full of a bunch of mixed emotions but there was no denying what I'd gotten myself into by the time the plane landed.  All us Canadians stuck together (I honestly just love Canada) till we got our luggage and walked through that gate into the unknown craziness that was the CDG airport.  There were so many people crowding the gate and I had a couple French Rotary men come up and ask me if I was someone, then look at my name tag and move on to the next red blazer when they realized I wasn't the student they were looking for.  It started to seem like everyone had found their host family or Rotarian within the first 5 minutes except for me and I won't lie I started to worry.... until I finally notice what I'd been COMPLETELY oblivious to before, and that was my host dad and host brother holding up a GIANT banner with my name on it, it was a bigger sign than anyone elses's and yet somehow I'd missed it, and they'd missed me (derp of the century if you ask me.)

My host mum, the incredibly jolly Rotary co-ordinator, exhausted me, and my host dad
So I met my host family and they were so friendly and welcoming.  I also found myself being able to understand what they were saying and carry on a conversation, in which I probably made hundreds of grammar and vocabulary errors, but it was awesome!

We left the airport and right away drove for like an hour to a place called Pierrefonds which was a beautiful tiny little village that got overlooked by a giant castle.  We stopped inside a Boulangerie, and as we walked up the narrow, cobbled street toward the castle I ate my first authentic French croissant. It was perfect! The castle was huge and stunning.  We went on a tour but I was exhausted and the French guy spoke like 80 words every 5 seconds so I mostly just walked around gaping wide eyed at the insane castle.



Afterwards we drove to Roubaix and I slept the entire way.  My host family lives right in the centre of Roubaix which actually is quite a large city.  Their house is in a row of buildings and looks old and European from the outside with two huge doors leading inside: so cool. They have a beautiful home and such a beautiful backyard and garden. Their yard is so alive and there are so many plants and trees, with vines that cling to the high brick walls that surround it.  You would never know they live in the middle of a city just from looking at their yard.  The rest of the day was relaxed, I got myself set up and packed and tried to settle in, Marie-Jose (my host mom) took me for a walk around the neighborhood showing me where the Metro was and how I'd walk to school.  

It's still mindblowing right now that I'm actually doing this. It set in as we arrived at the house and I began to unpack my things how long I will be in France for, and how different life is going to be here. It's definitely an adjustment but I'm so excited for all the cool things there are yet to be done! Yay France!!!!

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