Mathieu, my host dad, picked me up from the Brussels airport when I arrived in last Saturday. I almost didn't recognize him with his OUTRAGEOUSLY dark skin, tanned after his 10 days spent with the family in Bali. I also almost didn't recognize France! The sun was shining, the weather was warm, and I had to shed at least 3 layers after the walk from airport to car. Spring has arrived here people and man am I loving it. Sunshine, warm weather, and long days do a lot to improve a person's mental well being. I was excited to see my host family after the 2 weeks away, I had missed them!! I might also mention that they were all sporting beautiful, flawless tans, making me feel not only pasty as can be but questioning if I am of the same race... I forgot that spring/summer bring with them constant jibes at my inability to ever be darker than white drywall, as well as the game of "let's compare our arm colour to that of Siobhan's to make us feel better about our tans". Thank you Irish genes for giving me chronic pastiness.
Anyway, I had lunch with Valentine, Mathieu, and Edouard at the house, then took advantage of the time of day and weather to head in to Lille and try to find some exchange friends. Lille.. was.. INSANE! It was buzzing with crowds of people out enjoying the hot weather and sun on the weekend. I guess I had just figured Lille was never really busy because in the cold winter months there'd be less than half that amount of people in the city, but apparently they'd all just been hiding indoors for the past 4 months. Part of me felt like it was August again, and I was at the beginning of my exchange walking around Lille and exploring La Braderie, it was some weeeeird nostalgia. I met up with Ty, Vero, Tee, Tae-hee, and Rodrigo at the Opera, and then ran into my friend Embla from Sweden! I met Embla when I joined the soccer team, she's my age but working as a jeune fille au pair this year in Lille as opposed to being on exchange. Embla introduced us to another Canadian girl named Nicole who's also an au pair in Lille. So that was awesome. Then we all kind of just spent the afternoon chilling out and about in Lille and soaking in the beauuuutiful warm weather. I think it's the first time in 4 to 5 months that I left the house without a proper jacket or winter coat. HALLELUJAH!
|Nicole from Ontario|
|Elise, Veronica, Embla, Siobhan, Nicole|
I actually had kind of a pain-in-the-butt week, but that started Wednesday. I didn't have to write the Monday DS exam in school, and had an awesome few hours catching up with my French friends before getting to come home early to an open afternoon of relaxation. I was worried for nothing, the first day (or few hours) back went so well! I went into Lille in the afternoon with Valentine which was really nice. We got to hang out and do some shopping together and have some quality bonding time which we hadn't really done yet so it was lovely! Plus later that evening I got out running and it didn't suck, so things are looking up on that front too yippee.
Wednesday was awesome until approximately 6pm. Before then, I had a super fun afternoon with all sorts of exchange friends, including some lovely Canadian girls who had taken the train into Lille from their far-off towns (something they wouldn't do very frequently because it's a hassle and costs moola!). I biked to Lille after school all the way from Roubaix which was SO fun, it took me a good hour but it was so easy because of all the bike paths. The weather was lovely, the scenery was cool, and I was getting some exercise so I was on a high. After meeting up with friends in Lille I did a little shopping here, a little shopping there, we hung out on the Opera steps for a bit because it's a cool chill out place and you can people-watch like there's no tomorrow, we played a little soccer, got some ice cream, and ended up finding a nice grassy opening where we could sit down and have a mini picnic/soccer game/chat session. What is not to like about that Wednesday afternoon.
|elegant photo of an elegant Australian modelling the elegancy of French baking|
|A LOOOOVELY LOVELY Canadian named Allison. This girl is awesome.|
All was swell. At around 5:30pm I started walking back to the centre of Lille with the girls who had to take a train. I was leaving early because since I'd never biked home to Wasquehal from Lille before I had no idea how long it would take me and didn't want to find myself wobbling along alone at 8pm still not home. So there I am casually walking along, looking forward to a breezy bike ride home, I go to the bike rack where I left my bike (the new, cool-looking bike my host parents bought in replacement of the stolen one) and it's not there. *CUE MAJOR PANIC ATTACK* In the place where I'd left my bike, was some other stranger's bicycle. The lock that held the bike to the stand was some other stranger's lock. My bike lock was lying forlorn and cut in the middle on the ground, not attached to my bike in anyway. Yep. That's right. MY BIKE WAS STOLEN A SECOND TIME. It hadn't even been a month since the last theft. I could not believe my terrible luck, out of the hundreds of bikes locked up around Lille, some stupid thief had picked mine. I was pretty mad, at myself and the thief, but there was nothing to be done, so I took the tram back home feeling a bike shaped hole in my heart (really just milking the drama on this right now). My host family was really really nice about it. They recognized that it wasn't my fault and this stuff happens etc etc, but they did end up saying that they probably weren't going to get me a new one this time around. Oh boy.
So since I'm now bike-less for good, my new best friend is my skate cruiser. I don't mind because since the weather is better it's actually pretty fun to get around everywhere using that, except for Thursday morning. I was on my way to catch the bus and having way too much fun speeding along the road when one wheel caught a rock, my skate stopped dead, and my body kept moving forward at high speed. Face to pavement. (Replaying this in my head right now as I try to describe it in writing is actually causing me to giggle... how am I such a catastrophe). I lay there without moving in shock for one moment as I had a quick feel with the tongue to make sure my teeth were all still intact, once I realized all was okay on that front I hopped up, grabbed my skate, and went on my way. A couple construction workers working on the side of the street that saw me fall asked me if I was okay as I went by, to which I gave them a huge smile (with a slowly swelling fat lip and bloody mouth), a thumbs up, and an enthusiastic "Nickel!" as I rode by. My friend Thomas was at the bus stop and helped me clean up a bit on the ride to school, so thankfully the catastrophe was taken care of before arriving, although my swollen lip and chin chose to hang around for the next few days so I wouldn't be able to forget about my spectacular fall.
Aside from missing the bus, then getting on the wrong bus yesterday, the rest of my weekend has passed without hiccups. Yesterday I picnicked in Lille with some exchange friends, and went to Louise's cousin's 18th birthday party in the evening. This morning I got out for a run in the beauty weather and have had a lovely relaxing afternoon filled with catching up on my odds and ends.
MY MOM AND SISTER ARRIVE IN LILLE SO SOON. They'll be leaving Calgary one week from today and they arrive at noon on Monday the 24th. I cannot wait, and also can't seem to register/imagine them being here after almost 7 months of kicking it solo. I'm having a hard time thinking about much else at this point. Fingers crossed I can manage to not have any other bad luck catastrophes this week so I can be in perfect shape for when they arrive!