Last Wednesday was once again a relaxed park afternoon with exchange students. It's getting weird because with the two Lille districts, everyone living all over the place, and the busy-ness that is the end of exchange, it's hard to know if we'll see each other again when we say bye at the end of the afternoon. People have been bringing journals and/or flags to get the other students to sign and it's normal that there's one or two being passed around with a pen during our afternoons. It's sad :(
|Selfies are the new black|
Nothing too exciting happened before the weekend, aside from Friday marking my 9 months in France! It's insane actually, I'm now onto counting down weeks because it's less than a month before I'm home. Only 21 days.
This weekend was a Rotary event at Chateau Thierry, which I understood was a city/region just south of Paris. Katherine, the Peruvian girl in my district has been living there on her exchange for the year. It's nuts because she's so far, which means she's never been there on Wednesdays with exchange students in Lille, and we only get to see her Rotary weekends. She's had a completely different exchange than any of us.
Anyway we got the bus at 7am Saturday and drove a few hours before arriving for a "French Surprise". Benoit, our district co-ordinator, stood at the front of the bus and asked us to guess what it could be. Me, not really thinking that much and picking the first French thing that came into my head yelled "ESCARGOT!!!" from way in the back of the bus and everyone had a laugh when Benoit blinked a few times before saying "Ah.. bon.. bah c'est ça." Lucky guess on my part. So at 9 in the morning we visited an escargot "farm" and watched videos on the science and principles of farming and eating snails in French. And then we got to try some! First time eating escargot ever, and it was actually so good.
|Veronica is nuts|
|They were cooked in this yummy garlic butter and we could eat them from the shell or in pastries. So delish!|
Afterwards it wasn't long before we arrived at Chateau Thierry. Katherine's lycée has an internat or "dorms" where some students will live during the week, and that's where we slept Saturday night. There was some kind of cultural event or festival going on with the students so we got to sneak in and get in on their meal of Paella and watch a bit of the festivities. Paella is a traditional Spanish dish of rice, vegetables, chicken, mussels and shrimp and it was so yummy!! Veronica was so excited when she found out we were eating Paella. She was impressed too, the guy running the Paella stand was from Spain and therefore it was legit Paella. We ate and then spent a good couple hours just sitting around and socializing before someone found a soccer ball. I went and joined in with the boys and showcased my incredible soccer skills that I picked up during my short stint on the soccer team in France. In other words I kind of skipped around and sometimes my foot touched the ball. It's chill.
Then we got to move all our stuff into the boarding rooms of the high school, after which we went on a little walking tour of the beautiful little town and it's sights!
Monday was another busy day. I actually ended up not going to school (hehe..oops). I arrived like normal at 8am only there was nobody waiting outside the class like usual. After 5 or so minutes of feeling like maybe I was early I realized we probably didn't have class and I'd forgetten. *Moment of silence for the extra hour of sleep that was lost that day* Because of other teachers not being there I'd end up only having one hour of class in total that morning... so I just didn't go... But I was still productive! I managed a run and some Rotary paperwork before heading to Lille in the late afternoon to meet with Gillian (Canadian I've known since Toronto airport), Luciana (Brazil) and Will (States). Rishab went home to India on Wednesday and was having a last minute small she-bang at Kheeran's apartment to say goodbye to Will and Kheeran, two of his best friends. Allison (Canadian. Toronto airport.) met up with us and we skidaddled over. It was sad watching Rishab say goodbye to his good friends, I only met him recently since he's in the other Rotary district of Lille, but I could tell he's a really cool guy and will be missed by everyone.
After we had made it to this cool little stone tower with a circular opening where we could all comfortably sit, we took the above photo. I went to recuperate my camera from the volunteer photographer whereupon Veronica demanded I IRISH DANCE in front of everyone.... Well there was no way of getting myself out of that situation. I showed Veronica, Ty, Liz and David my old dance moves a while back and they haven't let me forget about it since. And this past weekend the whole rest of the exchange crew got to see it. Oh boy. There I was standing alone encircled by about 30 people chanting and clapping in an effort to get me to twiddle my knees and do a jig. Soooo I did it. It was pretty fun actually, and then it turned into an impromptu talent show whereupon almost everyone got kind of pushed out there to show off their stuff. Paco from Argentina showed us he can imitate a rooster pretty perfectly, Gokul from India roared like a lion, Rika from Japan sang in Japanese, Veronica from Spain did some flamenco dancing, Maria from India Bollywood danced, Maria Eugenia (Argentina) salsa danced with Guillermo (Bolivia). En gros there were lots of hidden talents to be shown off and it was awesome to have finally discovered it in such an amazing ambience with friends.
|enjoying talent show|
The following day we went to Belleau Wood to be present for the Memorial Day celebration being held there. For those of you who aren't aware, the Battle of Belleau Wood happened in June 1918 wherein US Marines fought and died for France. The ceremony we were present at was to honour all the soldiers who had fought, and there were loads of family members and marines who were there! Basically, as a group of 30 kids coming from over 20 nationalities we carried our country flags and wore our Rotary blazers as a way of representing the idea of "world peace" in the words of our Rotary co-ordinator Benoit. It was very cool to get to be there. Even though I'd already learned about the war in school back home, it's such a different thing to actually be at the location where it happened. The ceremony was in English and French, with phrases being repeated in one language or the other every time there was a speech. First time in my life I've ever understood what's being said in English as well as the translation, it's pretty dang cool!
Afterwards we had lunch at one of the other insanely impressive war monuments in the area with an AWESOME view. We got to run around and be crazy exchange students for a bit afterwards which was really great. I see the other exchange students often but never (almost) all of them like that at the same time and it was nice to be together. It's crazy to think about the time that's passed and observing how each and every person changed in their own way.
|Girls like these two give me the impression that all Latinos are the most beautiful kind-hearted human beings walking the planet|
|girl gang. don't mess.|
|girl gang + sushi|
|flowers in the hair|
|Will & Rishy|
|hugs goodbye :(|
|the dude is a character|
|L2R: Gillian, Pasty Obnoxious Kid, Eva, Allison|
Gabi's return home date was TODAY (insanity) so this past Wednesday was her last before heading back to American soil. There was a good group of us, mostly from my district, who met up with her to say goodbye. I remember the beginnings and all the adventures we got up to so well that it's really unreal to imagine she's gone from exchange and from France 2013/2014 for good. (Side note: Gabi's actually coming back to Lille in August to be an au pair for a year which is MEGA COOL so she has less things to be sad about).
|bye gab <3|
Ciao for now! xx