Friday, October 18, 2013

Holy Moly 8 Weeks

Well blog readers today marks the 8 week mark of French livin' for me here in Roubaix, with the official two month mark being this Wednesday.  What an absolutely unreal and indescribable 8 weeks it has been.  I never in a million years expected exchange to be like this.  It's way more awesome, and way more challenging than I ever could have imagined, but doing it was probably the best decision I ever made in my life.  There's a lot of things I miss about Canada, but I've also surprised myself with how much I've grown to love my new life and the people in it.  It's funny because I feel like every exchange student says something along these lines at this point in exchange; the amount of learning and changing we go through in such a short span of time is tremendous, and some days it just hits you how insane it is what you're doing.  Then there's days where it hits you how different your new life is from home, and you just want to curl up in front of the TV watching Ellen Degeneres and eating ice cream so you can somehow banish that killer ache that is homesickness.  But for me, the beauty of exchange is revealed on the days where everything just feels right.  Those days where you can keep up a conversation in the new language, or you finally understand the gibberish that is math class, or those moments of self satisfaction and congratulation because you made yourself do something that was terrifying.  Exchange is hard but so rewarding, and I am so grateful to be able to have this experience.  This is great.

On that note!! Another great week just passed! And starting tomorrow I have 2 weeks vacation from school, of which I will be spending in Sicily at a house my host family owns there! As far as I know there won't be any internet connection, so this could very well be my last post for a whole 2 weeks (*cue waterworks*) but I'll be taking pictures nonstop, so I'll be able to flood everyone with photos once I'm back! Thanks to everyone who's been reading! You guys rock, BISOUS!!

ps check these totally kewl pics from my week

Moi et Marion ;)


Monday, October 14, 2013

International Running


Standing on the Belgium/France border after running to Belgium from Roubaix (my phone was wet so the photos are terrible quality I apologize!)

OH YEAH! LOOKIN NERDY! And definitely a little less than dry...
Sunday was AWESOME! It was my first sleep-in in a long time, probably two or more weeks, and it felt so great!!! Yann had told me on Saturday about a run we could do that Sunday morning that would take us to Belgium and back, but would be 12km.  In Canada I ran, but I enjoyed a leisurely 5km here and there, so for me the idea of 12km was kind of daunting, but how can you refuse running to another country! I agreed to do it, and it was only then Yann admitted it was more like 13km... I thought to myself that one more kilometre wouldn't kill me so I was still up for it.  When I woke up Sunday morning it was raining and cold and I won't lie.. I was secretly hoping Yann would say we weren't going to run because of the rain.  But sure enough I walked out of my room and he was already in his running gear.  So I sucked up all my inner complaints and negative thoughts and got ready too, I even ended up donning a Rotary hat with a map of France and my district on it.  Representing Rotary even when I go running woohoo!  It was definitely cold, and I was soaked through to my inner layer within the first 10 minutes but it was SO AWESOME! There's nothing like conquering a challenge that you didn't think you could or even wanted to do in the first place (welcome to the daily life of an exchange student).  The run was a "there and back" kind of dealio, so Yann and I ran as far as the edge of Belgium, then turned around and ran back to Roubaix.

Made it to Belgium! 

snagged a decent pic of this cool bird that I should probably know the name of and I don't....

Belgian canal that was at our turnaround point

This was the view just as we got to Belgium!! This is the path we ran along, then on the way back we were on the other side.  It might be hard to see but it was absolutely pouring rain.
By the time we got back to Roubaix every single article of clothing I had on and every part of my body was just so wet.  My shoes themselves were just filled with water.  I was absolutely positively soaked! My body was tired too, it was the longest I've ever run nonstop in my life, and I did it in the pouring cold rain.  When Yann and I made it back to the house finally, the first thing Yann says is "14 kilometres!!!" So there I had agreed originally to what I first thought was a whopping 12km, and ended up running 14km.  So basically it was 7km to Belgium and 7km home again.  I was so pumped and happy at the end, especially after learning how far I ran! I felt awesome, and just really proud of myself for getting up and doing it when I didn't really want to that morning, and I knew it wouldn't be the easiest run of my life. Not to mention it is so cool to be able say I ran to another country.

14 kms later! Woohoo! I look like a monkey!

Cheesy Canadian pose for the camera
After showering and warming up, Yann took me to a modern art museum nearby and we spent the entire afternoon leisurely wandering around looking at really cool and interesting art.  It was a really awesome way to spend a rainy afternoon.  My entire Sunday just felt like one big accomplishment of awesome, and I feel so lucky to have been put with such an amazing and cool host family! Was a swell weekend.

Friday, October 11, 2013

First French Art Project!

My favourite class at school is by far Art class.  It's the only class I take that doesn't involve listening to a teacher or taking notes for an hour in a language I'm still working on understanding.  Not to mention that everyone else who takes Art is super chill and nice, the teacher is very very cool and laid-back, and it's just a big happy gathering of creative minded people. Awesome.  Also... we can eat during class: BONUS! It's an option so I'm with a bunch of kids outside my class.  If I didn't do Art, my Wednesdays and Fridays would finish a lot earlier, but I'm happy to spend that extra hour or two at school for art.  Back in Canada, I spent like 50% of my time in my New Media classroom working on photo or video projects, and it's awesome that I have something similar to that here.  The teacher is cool with me doing all my projects on the computer with photo editing and that kind of thing, so I'm so pumped for the stuff I'll get to do this year!!

And on that note, here's my first project of the year!

Make sure you click on it to blow it up full size and get the full idea. (I didn't take any of the photos that make up the inside of the eye, EXCEPT for the one directly to the right of the deer who's on the inside corner of my eye.  For anyone who's interested, it's a photo I took from the top of Polar Peak mountain in Fernie BC a couple years ago after hiking to the top.)
The theme of the project was a "Cabinet of Curiosities."  The teacher started by telling us about way back in like the 19th century when people lived in their huge ancient houses and lived their curious lives and often had some kind of wardrobe or cupboard in their house full of random, unknown things.  People would bring back quirky or interesting souvenirs from their travels, and often in each household there was one place where they stored it all.  Thus, a cabinet full of curiosities.  Our assignment was to take that idea and apply it to something we could do for a project.  We had to reflect on what we could call a "cabinet" and what we could call a "curiosity."  Almost from the beginning I really wanted to use an eye as my cabinet, because I feel like (watch out I'm about to get deep) the saying about eyes being a window to the soul is true, and also because every single person processes differently the things they see throughout their life, and no two people will be the same.  Therefore those things you have seen, and have become a part of you, are "curious" to everyone around you.  Once I half-sorta-tried-to-with-the-help-of-Sixtine explained this in my broken French to the teacher, she suggested putting things in my eye (not literally...DUH) that I knew from Canada, but that might be unknown to most of the French people I go to school with.  And so, after using her suggestion and doing some more reflecting on my original idea, I came up with what you see here! When I look at all the things inside the eye, I think of home, so I called this project "Home" (wow like I am so original.)  I even managed to present it like the rest of the students have to: speaking in French and explaining what you did, why, and your inspiration for the project to the teacher.  It was really cool and I am quite looking forward to the next assignment!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


Well October has gotten off to a great start, and that's exactly why I haven't posted in a little while.  So much has been going on! Apologies in advance.. this is gonna be a long one!

First off this was the beauty view/sky I got to enjoy on my walk to school one morning last week:

who will believe me if I say there's no filter on this.....
So that was awesome.

Then on Wednesday my skate arrived!! YAYAYWEEEOOWWOOOYAAAWHAHOOOO!! It was so exciting (in case I haven't said it on the blog already... I ordered a stereo cruiser skate like 2 weeks ago because I loved Sixtine's so much).  There I was, casually walking downstairs into the kitchen to say hi to Yann in the evening, with absolutely no expectations of seeing it for at least another two weeks and there was this giant package leaning up against the counter.  I couldn't contain myself when Yann told me it was for me... I let out a few decent girly squeals and then continued to repeat "this is awesome" for the next 10 minutes of me opening it and proceeding to ride it around the kitchen.  It was so cool it came with free stickers and sunglasses!

Yann gives it a try!
I'm still on a high from getting it.  I'm pretty bad right now since I just started, but I was too excited about getting it not to give it a try the next morning.  So my walk to school the next day was my first official run with the skate.  I was absolutely terrible.  The thought occurred to me that I have had more embarrassing and/or awkward moments since the start of my exchange than most people probably have had in their entire lives.  It's kind of hilarious.  So anyway there I am all pumped and excited and walking with a goofy spring in my step as I set up the skate for trial run numero uno.  It was right outside my house where the sidewalk is pretty uneven, but my overly excited beginner's determination was blinding and it didn't occur to me that my plastic cruiser might not glide like butter over the hugely obvious cracks and uneven juts of the sidewalk until my first disaster.  I forgot that it might take some actual concentration and skill to succeed at first using the skate, and I had a bunch of energy that let loose the minute I tried to start pushing with the skate thus making my body forget it ever once had co-ordination.. and the skate slipped out right from under me and scooted forward and onto the road making a huge deal of clatter and causing the guy walking on the other side of the street to turn around and glare with a look that said "what in god's name is going on?!" That's when I dived onto the ground beside a car to hide myself from view.  Anyway once that catastrophe was over and I was reunited with the skate, I gave it another try.  I actually was able to ride it for the next couple minutes without problem! Except it can't be ridden nonstop to and from school because, as I learned the hard way, it doesn't work so well over uneven sidewalk or large areas of cobbled street.  So I make it without issue onto the main street in Roubaix with a lot of students walking to school, random Roubaix-ans chillin out, and overall just a decent amount of people going to and fro ready to start their day, and that was when I forgot my sense of balance.. and the skate slid right out from under me a second time leaving me stunned and sitting on my butt in the middle of the street.  Go Siobhan go!! The entire endeavour was hilarious and actually really fun, but I was definitely glad when I finally made it to school with no more accidents.  I even made it home at the end of the day problem free!  The good news is it's been about a week and I've gotten much much better. Now I use it just to get places and it's so much fun to have.

This weekend was super busy for me.  On Saturday I had school in the morning, then went to my friend Liz's house in Lille for lunch.  Her host family has 4 daughters all younger than her, it was kind of cool to be at a meal with a big family, reminded me of home!  Afterwards we went into Lille to meet a bunch of other exchange kids.  We got galettes (kind of like a pita/panini/burrito mix) from this awesome little stall there where the two guys working had hilarious personalities.  They were so pumped to learn all of us came from different nationalities, and when I busted out the camera the one guy couldn't get enough of it.

"Ehhh! Pho-to eh pho-to!!"

Then he wanted a photo with everyone

This guy is totally random.  He lives in Lille and is always around the really busy areas and makes weird birdlike sounds with his mouth.  He'll come by and pinch your sides and tweet like a bird and then keep walking like nothing happened.  As soon as Annabel saw him she yelled "IT'S YOU!!" I guess she sees him all the time and she actually doesn't like him very much.  The whole situation was kind of goofy, but he really wanted a photo so......!
The rest of the afternoon I spent with my friends, then I took the metro home because I had to get my stuff to go to a concert with Ana and then sleepover at her house! The photos I took there didn't really turn out unfortunately.  It was pretty fun! The next day I went home in the morning, took a shower, and right away afterwards went with Yann to a friend's house for lunch.  Theophane was already there, and I met 3 other French boys ranging in age from 14-17.  One of them had done a month long exchange to Vancouver last year! I get way too excited when I meet people who have been to Canada, or are from Canada, or know it well enough to talk about it with me.  Severine, my third host mom, then picked me up after we'd eaten so I could go with her, Lancelot (my adorable 10 year old third host brother), and Rika to Bruges! Honestly probably one of my new favorite places.  There's probably chocolateries within 5 metres of you no matter where you stand in Bruges, and it was so beautiful! And did I mention there was a lot of chocolate?

mmm Haagen Dasz

just everywhere

Rika, me, Lancelot just before our boat tour of the Bruges canals!

this is the boat tour we went on

Because in Bruges when it's not chocolate that you're thinking about, it's beer

Three words: giant chocolate rhinocerous




In his natural habitat

This photo is like one big metaphor for eating chocolate.  It's like a stare down with all the weight that chocolate threatens to make you gain.

Omg my dream

Then as soon as Severine dropped me home after Bruges, Yann drove me to Marion's house for a sleepover before school Monday.  That was a blast and a half. School Monday was pretty relaxed.  Our French teacher didn't show up to teach, and instead of heading into Perm (study hall) we just sat in the hall and listened to music for an hour.  It was awesome! And I had my camera on me yay!

lol Louis
Today was a pretty good day too:

MY SKAATE! The cheapest one I could find was colored this way ha.

Roubaix.  I walk this street to and from school every day.

Sixtine and Louis 

Okay I swear I actually look cool when I'm riding it.......

And that's October so far :)