Friday, June 20, 2014

The end is only the beginning

In 48 hours I'll be at the CDG airport in Paris checking in for my flight to Montreal.  In 72 hours I'll be back in Calgary, home after 10 months away.  I can't believe my exchange is already at an end.  SO much has happened and changed in my life and in who I am, but at the same time it feels like I only arrived yesterday.

As per usual, much has happened since my last post.  Last Wednesday was relatively tame and just really enjoyable.  Our big group of exchange students met up in the park by the Ugly Church that I wrote about in my last post.  We laid in the grass and took in the lovely day in peace.

Stole this photo from Eva's facebook album. Her caption "Everyday should be like this"
Will severely miss this beautiful city
A photo to sum up "park chillin'" featuring Liz and Paco
That Friday (a week ago today) was the BBQ at my teacher's house with my class from school.  It was so much fun! A few teachers showed up, and almost my whole class was there.  Everyone brought a little something to contribute to the food and drinks, the weather was really nice, and with people like Clem and Hugo floating around it was basically unavoidable that it all ended in one huge water fight.  Everyone also surprised me with a going away present from all of them! They'd put together a box filled with little knick knacks to represent memories and inside jokes from the year, or else little symbols of France.  They'd glued France soccer player cards to the top of the box because it's the World Cup and in their minds I'm obviously cheering for France (which isn't false I have to admit..).  They also gave me a mini bike lock....... ha.... ha......ha..... joke of the year.  They gave me a huge map of France and circled Lille in permanent marker with a squiggly arrow pointing to it accompanied by a "We are here".  They gave me France's world cup t-shirt signed on the back by everyone in the class. Also a mini water gun (a little foreshadowing for the water fight that was to follow).  A mini water bottle because apparently I'm always drinking water, and some delicious goodies representative of the North like Speculoos cookies and Violette candies.  Then there was some random stuff like a children's French book and some wildly patterned underwear which I can probably thank mainly Clem for... I can see her going wild in the grocery store looking for everything crazy and hilarious to throw in on top.  It was one of those well thought out gifts that symbolized the connections I made with the people in the class throughout the year.  It meant a lot.  

opening of the box

THANKS CLEM (note clem behind snorting with laughter...)

so touched by all the love
Clem teaching Mme. Becuwe's son how to destroy people with the water gun 
After getting soaked Round 1

After getting soaked Round 2

I had to say goodbye to the teachers and some classmates which was weird.  I've said so many goodbyes in the last little while that it's starting to feel like a habit.  My brain isn't really realizing how final a lot of the gooodbyes are! In my head I'm still going to see people in the following weeks...

Saturday was our Rotary District Conference and the very last time we had an organized Rotary event with all the exchange students together.  The conference was to bring together all the Rotary clubs in our district 1670 here in France, as well as a way of thanking the Rotary governor for all she's done for Rotary this year.  It was also a chance for us exchange students to be properly presented to the district that's hosting us.  In the morning we had a flag ceremony where each country and it's corresponding student was introduced.  

I'm waaaay over to the right next to Aubry's American flag. Paco and Maria showed up late so I had the honors of sporting the Argentinian flag for the ceremony.
We spent the next couple hours preparing our show for the Rotarians that we'd be putting on after lunch.  I had a couple extra tasks to be done on top of show prep because along with Clancy, Rika and Katerin I'd be giving a speech later that day, IN FRENCH, to all the Rotarians gathered in the crowd.  The 4 of us had to sort of re-write our speeches in order that they'd correspond well and we wouldn't repeat ourselves too much... and we somehow managed to do so in only about 30 minutes. Speeches came first, followed by our talent show.

lol at the photo of my squinty face larger-than-life sized in the background.  Awkwardness follows me like a dementor.
After the 4 of us finished, every Rotarian in the audience stood up and clapped, then all our exchange friends in the front two rows stood up and turned around to face the standing ovation as well.  Some of my friends were in tears, it was an emotional moment and I spent those 30 seconds standing on stage stuck in a frazzled lip-biting not-sure-if-I'm-going-to-start-bawling-or-not state.  

Our talent show was a hit too!  I don't have any photos but click HERE for the youtube video. It's worth a watch, there's a lot of really cool talents unique to people's countries and cultures that get showcased, for example I Irish danced... yep.  Over 3 years of not dancing and I whipped out the moves just for Rotary.  Nothing was broken, thank the lord.  And if anyone wants to try to understand 4 French speeches in foreign accents you can go HERE to see that video as well.  

It was kind of nostalgic afterwards, because the real goodbyes began.  I think it felt unreal for all of us.

Irish Dancer and Flamenco queen 

That evening Veronica, Ty, Elise, Paco, David, Rodrigo and Ian all came to my house for one last soiree ensemble before Veronica and Ty would leave Monday and Tuesday.  It was a really awesome night, I think it's safe to say we went out with a bang, but we had some sad moments too when we reflected on all the awesome memories from our year and how much we'd miss each other.  They're my people!

On Sunday I had to say goodbye to Vero and it sucked.  On Monday we spent the day together as a group of exchange students in Lille and at the end of the afternoon we said goodbye to Ty.  That sucked too.  Despite the gloomy sadness of goodbyes, I KNOW that I'm gonna see those guys again, our bond is too strong for our friendship and adventures to already be over.  

I forgot to mention that Anouk, my host sister, got back from her exchange in Mexico on Sunday!! It's been very cool having her back.  It's weird to see a French person talk about exchange because I'm doing my exchange in her home country and despite that huge important factor of the countries being different, there's still soooo much mutual understanding between us and the exchange experience in general.  It was a pleasure to watch the whole family together and see how happy they all were to be reunited once again in their home... made me kind of want to be back home in Canada as soon as possible myself!

This Wednesday I said a final goodbye to all my French classmates, excluding Ana, Marion and Sixtine who I'll be seeing and then saying goodbye to this afternoon.  I also went to Lille and had one final Wednesday with some crazy exchange kids.  T'was great.

Yesterday evening I went with my host parents and Anouk to Yann and Marie Jo's for dinner.  Rika's mom and sister are visiting her and then taking her back with them to Japan, so yesterday's dinner was a way for them to meet all 3 host families as well as an opportunity for me to say goodbye to Yann and Marie Jo.  It was cool!

Today I have a mini gathering with my art class in the late afternoon before heading to the Dervilles house.  I have one last night out tonight with Louise and her buds, then a final lunch with the Dervilles tomorrow ( wahh :(( ).  Tomorrow is La Fete de la Musique in Lille, in other words just one giant party throughout the city.  It's a cool event to be happening for my last afternoon in my favourite French city.  The last of the goodbyes with my exchange family will also be happening tomorrow.  I can't believe it.  TOMORROW. Feels so unreal.

Sunday at 8:30am the Brodins will drive me to the airport for my flight at 1pm.  Then this adventure that is exchange will be over.  This is probably my last post before I catch my flight Sunday! My next post will most likely be written from Canada.  Catch you then eh.

No comments:

Post a Comment