Monday, May 19, 2014

Keeping Up

I am no longer in control of my exchange.  Solid plans set in place ahead of time do not exist and I am only able to confirm what will happen within the following 24 hours of wherever it is I'm at.  LIFE IS INSANELY BUSY PEOPLE.  It's been 2.5 weeks since getting back from Île de Ré.  It feels like it's only been a week because since getting back because of how things have been happening nonstop.

Rewind to two Wednesdays ago in Lille.  It was our first week back at school after vacation, therefore our first Wild Wednesday back with the crew of exchange students.  There were lots of newbies from Australia and New Zealand that I'd never before met because they live far away and are from the other district, there were even some oldies I had never met, so it felt like there was such an enormous group of us there.  The weather was lovely so we set ourselves up in the park and the afternoon passed by as we hung around laughing and chatting (in several languages).

Allison and Gillian.  My lovely Canadian friends from the other district who've been part of my exchange since before arriving in France.
One of the Aussies always has a polaroid.  Try and spot meeee! 
CW: Siobhan, Sam (Australia), Vero, Chelsea (Australia)
It was agreed on by everyone that it was one of our best Wednesday hangouts yet.

* Can I just take a moment right now to let all you readers know that I'm actually struggling to write this blog post... Normal English sentences without grammar errors are no longer coming very easily to me.  This is worrisome considering I go to uni in 2.5 months *

That Saturday I got to miss school (WOOP) in the morning to go with 5 other exchange students and participate in our Rotary District Assembly.  We didn't have a big role other than to stand at the Rotary Youth Exchange table with our blazers and flags and look pretty, and at one point we went into a meeting room to share some of our experiences, good and bad, with a team of future Rotary Exchange counsellors. Speaking French in front of a room of Francophones... surprisingly not scary at all! I even got a compliment on my French afterwards yippee!

Siobhan, Liz, Zulma, Rika, Ana Sofia, Maria
After a quick run when I got home, I headed to Marion's house because she was having a petite soirée chez elle.  It's cool because my new host house is only a 5 minute bike ride from where she lives, whereas before I was taking bus, tram, walk, bus, tram, metro, bus, tram, walk, walk, tram, and then I'd arrive 3 hours later.  (There was a lot of exaggeration in that last sentence).  


My homies from school
These are my best friends from my class in school, in the midst of yelling "Team MEMEL!", we have a team name yes... long story.
Now we can move on to last week.  It was busy and a little stressful since my first part of the French DELF (internationally recognized exam with a certificate that basically says "yes I speak French") exam was this Saturday.  I was signed up for the DELF Tout Public as opposed to DELF Junior which was a scary thought.  The difference between the two is the topics given in DELF Junior are aimed more for young people and teens, whereas things get a little more serious for the DELF Tout Public.  The topics could cover anything from economy to politics to world issues, things I would have to present and be ready to debate.. in French.  I was pretty stressed about getting stuck with a topic that I wouldn't be able to talk about, so in preparation I read the Roubaix newspaper every day of the week at school in the hopes I'd absorb enough to pass the DELF with at least a little ease.  Turns out reading the newspaper is pretty neat. ( <-- yes adults you may quote me on that as "ignorant teenager discovers it's cool to be informed") But really, I learned lots about what's going on in Lille, Roubaix, and the area I live in, and I also got informed about cool events that were planned for the weekend! For example the Marché des Modes that happened in Roubaix from Friday to Sunday.  Basically a bunch of local artists, craftsmen and creators got together and set up booths and stands to sell their creations.  There was jewellery, clothing, art and all the wacky imaginative things in between.  For those Calgarians reading this, it was like a giant French version of Market Collective.  After school finished Friday I had a bit of time before meeting up with Troy for a run, so I stopped by for a quick browse.  It was HEAVEN.  It was one of the coolest and trendiest things I've been to since getting to France.  I had a hard time keeping all my money from leaving the wallet... 

I knew I had to go back.  The 45 minutes I spent there wasn't enough, it demanded a solid 3 hours of browsing time to fully profit from all the cool stuff.

My DELF went alright I think.  I had to choose between two themes.  One was related to medical stuff and I didn't understand half the words, and the other was "What is your opinion on beauty institutions for children?" Kind of a wonky topic but I found easy arguments.  Fingers crossed I passed! 

After the DELF I went straight to the Dervilles to meet with Louise before heading to her friend Josephine's house.  Jo has a beautiful house in a lovely neighbourhood and had invited at least 30 friends to come hang by the pool on the roasting Saturday afternoon for a BBQ.  Once again.. it didn't feel like real life.  Everyone sat around in bathing suits under the sun and as soon as we got too hot we'd jump in the pool, then we'd cool down, get out, and the cycle would restart.  
Remember my skate that I bought back in October? Well they're (and any other type of skate really) all the rage right now, so lots of people came on skates.  Juliette, Clemence, Louise and I grabbed a few and rode them for a while.  SO FUN.

Afterwards we biked back to the Derville's, I hopped in the shower then grabbed the tram to head to Lille to meet with some exchange kids.  Like I said, life is BUSY.  I dropped my stuff at Liz's house before we went together into the inner city to meet with Veronica, David, Ty and his family who are visiting from the States.  It was so cool meeting parents, it's fun to see what personality traits come from which parent etc etc.  We had a fun meal with them, then us young'uns went out.  

After sleeping chez Liz I had to bus/metro/tram back to Wasquehal so I could have Sunday lunch with the Dervilles and the grandparents! The weather was lovely and we had a nice and relaxed meal outside before I had to head back to Roubaix to get ready for school today.  I'm happy that I never stop moving places or planning things because it means I'm making the most of the end of my exchange, but at the same time the days pass so quickly that I lose track and before I know it, it's been a week.  Then two... soon five...! I'm home in less than 5 weeks! Total insanity.

In other news the new host family is wonderful.  They're such lovely people and they know how to have a good laugh which is a necessity in life.  The one downside is Roubaix.  I know I've said it before and it's probably getting tiring to read, but living in Roubaix and going to school there has been one of the biggest struggles of my exchange I'd say.  I think it took me a while to realize it because there were so many great things happening that I forgot to think about what was hard.  I will be brutally honest and say that I won't miss Roubaix, and don't see myself returning aside from revisiting host families.  It just isn't a very happy place.  But, the most important thing I've learned, and am still learning, is the importance of always looking for the positives and the good in any situation or person.  Roubaix isn't all bad, and some parts of it can be really beautiful with the amazing weather we've been having recently! It was 25 degrees C out today people (sorry Calgary).  

I will also mention that my new host mom Severine loves to cook and is very good at it.

finishing touches on homemade pizza 
Homemade gaufres, with Lancelot looking on avec l'amour dans ses yeux.  Also, nutella at the ready.
And there we have it.  An update of life as I know it while living in France. Now read this quote and absorb the good vibes of spring.

When we seek to find the best in others, we often discover the best in ourselves

- Siobhan forgets who said this

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