Monday was the only day that had a event that I wasn’t exactly thrilled about. I got dress code because I was unaware that any kind of shorts were not allowed to be worn at school, so I had to wear a long lab coat all day. It made for good conversation and I also needed to wear a lab coat for two of my science classes that day. Wearing it and not being that embarrassed was test for myself in which I feel as though I passed. I will admit I was not the happiest to have to cover up my well thought-out outfit by an old, white lab coat but at the same time I just kinda shrugged and told myself that I’ll just rock this outfit where it’s more accepted and went on with my life. Another girl in my class almost got dress code but not by the same lady I did so she got out of it. She made it seem like such a big deal though that she almost had to look goffy for the last few hours of the day. So what if you look a little goofy? You’re not being forced to wear a clown suit and hey, at least you get a little more noticed! I really learned this week that your appearance can really be your best tool to get more attention (will explain more later). When I got home, my host siblings were playing badminton in the backyard for the first time. They told me that they play a lot during the summer so that makes me happy because I quite enjoy playing it and this means I have more bonding time with my host siblings and more french speaking time.
Tuesday, the only out-of-the-ordinary thing that happened at school waswhen Serin randomly brought a few eclairs for a few of her friends to share in perm. She usually brings candy to perm but never in the past four months has it been delicious french pastries. I didn’t eat a lot because of the whole counting my calories deal, but I did have take a few small bites and I’m glad I did. I’m also glad that I played badminton with just Maxent instead of taking a nap or reading like I was planning on doing after I got home that evening. While we played we talked about Youtube, books, school, etc until we had to eat dinner. Like I said, it’s a great opportunity for bonding!
The next day, Wednesday the thirteenth, was my 18th birthday! I have to say I do kinda feel a little different knowing that I am looked upon as an adult by the government and anyone else who doesn’t know who I am as a person (meaning they know that age is just a number and I still act like a child most of the time). I woke up to an extra happy to Natalie who was evidently excited for me. We chatted a bit about my plans for the day (or lack of plans) while I ate a bowl of my favorite sugary cereal. I’ve been watching my calories pretty closely just so that I wouldn’t feel guilty indulging myself a little on my big day.
Going to school I honestly wasn’t expecting more than the usual verbal birthday wishes from my friend or a cookie from the nearby bakery. I’m glad my expectations were low because when Eliza came to school with two birthday presents I almost started crying with appreciation! One present was from Faustine and Eliza that consisted of nice bath soaps and shower gels. The other one was from Eliza had a cute elephant necklace and a really cute scrunchie and some other items that showed me just how well she does know me and also how good of a friend she really is!
Wednesday is usually my half day but the school moved our Friday afternoon classes to Wednesday afternoon because we hadn’t had a Friday at school for the third consecutive week now. I had my science class in the morning where it’s either labs or research, so Saku and I usually talk the whole time but this day he didn’t even give me as much as give me a “what’s up” nod of the head. I thought he was just having family drama or was just really tired or something because he has never not said at least hi to me on any given day we’ve seen each other. I decided I would ask him about it later with less people around incase it was something bad.
I didn’t have art that day so I had a few hours to kill in perm, but I came prepared. I had bought some of my favorite candy to really only share with Eliza and Serin but then some other people came over and took some. I would have been fine with sharing with them except they took handfuls at a time. My candy disappeared back into the safety of my bag so that I could actually enjoy the majority of it with the people I originally intended on eating it with. I know that may sound selfish but I had been saving and looking forward to that candy for days. Sorry, but not sorry…
After lunch (and eating the rest of my candy how I wanted to) I had physics which I don’t really remember because I was half asleep most of the class but we are now learning about forces. I was then more awake during English because we had a test so I was actually doing something. We listened to this “normal” american girl talking about how your can still have good style without having to wear the expensive designer brands brands. The girls voice was so painful to listen to. NO WONDER WHY THE FRENCH THINK AMERICANS ARE OBNOXIOUS! THEY ARE INDIRECTLY TAUGHT IT IN SCHOOL. I really wanted to stand up to the class and explain that no one really talks like this and if you hear someone say “fave” in an actual conversation, that that individual not someone you really want to be learning your English from… My English class did sing Happy Birthday to me but they would add in a quick “Cassiieee” after every “Happy Birthday to you.” I was debating on telling them that’s not how we sing it in The States but I didn’t want them to think I was ungrateful so I thought it best to leave that correction for another time.
We had a little break before Math where I was waiting alone when Saku and Kevin walked up and then I asked Saku if everything was alright. He let out a sigh and took out from his backpack a little box Bretagne’s special salted caramels! He practically exclaimed “Happy Birthday!” and started laughing. He explained that he was pretending all day that he had forgotten about my birthday and that he hated me so that he could surprise me at the end of the day. I definitely was not expecting something like that from Saku! This whole day was filled with surprises from my friends and family that forced me to realize that I’m special to these people just like how they are special to me too.
After school, I got fries and a beer with Eliza (wasn’t even carded) and then went home. Every day when I get home I decompress in my room for a at least ten minutes before I go downstairs and rack my brain with more french. During this decompression time, Ombeline knocked on my door. I thought it was just to wish me a happy birthday, which is was, but it was also Faustine and Eliza there too! I was really not expecting to see Eliza, but Faustine waited for her after I left Republique to go home and together they took the next bus. I was really happy Eliza could be there to celebrate with me that evening at my home. We talked and waited for dinner which consisted of sushi (because my host family knows I love it) ordered from a restaurant. This was quite an event in my house because at least in the past four months, we have not eaten out or even as much as ordered a delivery pizza! I was very grateful! Stephan also made three of my favorite kinds of pizzas. I’m not sure how, but even after more than one serving of sushi and pizza, I managed to save room for a huge slice of cake. It was also the most delicious dessert I think I’ve had the pleasure of consuming since I arrived in France. I also received an enormous bath bomb from Ombeline and a book from the whole family. We also had my favorite cider and I made a toast. I hope I got across well enough how much I appreciate and love being apart of this family.
That day will be a memory I’ll never forget thanks to my friends and family. I have a truly blessed exchange.
The rest of the night Eliza and I hung out in my room in our PJs and I skyped my family and received birthday messages from my friend in The States which made me happier than they probably thought. I do have to say it was hard not being with my real family on this milestone in my life even with all the wonderful surprises and birthday wishes but how could that not be expected? It was even harder not being with Christa. It was our first birthday ever that we weren’t together blowing out candles side by side. Mais, c’est la vie. And I will see them soon enough!
Eliza had spent the night (we had a four day weekend), so Thursday morning we made ourselves breakfast. She had a bowl of cereal because she didn’t want to try my new, healthy pancake recipe. I still need to tweak it but they actually weren’t that bad! I really enjoyed them! Anyways, after breakfast we got ready for the day.
We took my usual bus into Republique a little before lunch and took the ten minute metro to Alma, which was closed because it was a holiday. So we went back to downtown and ate a small lunch in St. Anne where there are a lot of different cafes. We didn’t sit and eat too long because we were becoming cold from sitting in the shade. We didn’t sit much besides lunch and then an afternoon snack of peach ice cream and coffee. We explored a new part of Rennes and also walked alongside the river for a while. Despite it being a little chilly, it was a perfect day just to walk around. My pedometer on my phone was pleased with my over 24,000 steps! My legs and feet had a different story to tell. The bus ride back home all I could think about was sitting and relaxing in my bed watching Gossip Girl (in French of course!). And that is precisely what I did after we ate a new, sophisticated type of pizza created by Stephen. His cooking never ceases to please my taste buds!
Friday was another day full of walking (and running). I woke up a bit early to go on a run with an Irish exchange student who boards at the school during the week and stays with a family in my town during the weekend, her name is Sinead. I think I mentioned her in my last blog post. She’s really nice, but oh my can that girl talk! We had to walk most of the way because so much conversation was happening. It was an overall good way to start the morning! Then after lunch I went to the Aeroport with Eliza so that we could pick up our pack of goodies for our color run, which included a tshirt, food coupons, our bib, some color packets I had ordered online, and even a little thing of candy that Eliza and I ate immediately! We did do a little shopping to try and find some fun colored socks or scrunchies but that mission failed and we were both exhausted and thought it would be best to rest before our very looked-forward to day! We didn’t want to be too tired!
I was so excited Saturday morning even though I went to sleep later than I should have. I changed into my Color Me Rad t shirt, tied my hair up in a high ponytail, and pressed on my temporary “RAD” tattoo. Oh yeah, I was ready to run. After I took my bus of course, then another bus, then waiting for our group to go, but even all boring-ness of those didn’t make me any less pubmed. Eliza and I met before I took that second bus to the Aeroport and I don’t think I have ever seen her so excited! I’m really glad I did this with he for a lot a reasons and one reason is because I was stupid and neglected to drink enough water that morning so during the 5k I got those side cramps but she walked with me and didn’t mind at all! Our only two goals of the day were to 1) make sure we were both having a ‘rad’ time and 2) get colorful. Even before the run we took out a packet of our color powder and started throwing it in the air and on each other. Then at every kilometer in the run there would be a certain color that would be thrown at you by the volunteers. At the finish line, they would throw all the colors at you. Then after the finish line there was a big stage and an open area with everyone who just finished the course dancing and surrounding that open area was food and souvenir tents. Eiza and I didn’t eat there but we did push our way to the center of the crowd for the color explosion that happened every 45 minutes or so where everyone threw up their packet of color all at once. After about an hour of dancing we decided to leave and get some kebab in Republique before we headed home. The bus ride to Republique was packed with Color Me Rad participants, but as Eliza and I got our food and by the time we sat down we were the only ones in sight that participated in the run and who was completely covered in color. Everyone looked and about five people even commented (mostly nice and appropriate things). Then while Eliza was waiting for my bus with me, two people came up to us to ask us what was going on since they had seen a few others like us, and we explained it to them in the best french we could. As I mentioned before, appearance does play a role in social situations. If you are dressed in a way that shows you are an interesting or fun person (e.i. lab coat or post color run attire) then people won’t be as nervous or scared to approach you with a question! And in learning a new language, you will want to grasp every opportunity to practice your speaking a little more.
On arriving home that afternoon, Natalie was so excited for me and took a picture of me covered with all the color and I told her all about it. I could see in her eyes that she was genuinely happy that I had a good time. I’m really happy that my and Natalie’s relationship has gotten a lot closer in these past few months, because we weren’t that close in the beginning but I guess some relationships just take more time than others to grow.
That night I went out with Faustine and her friends until around 10:00 pm when the sun went down. I would have stayed longer but Color Me Rad Rennes had been such a tiring success, not to mention I had some sort of rendez-vous thing every day since Wednesday, I just had to curl up in bed and get a well deserved night’s sleep.
Sunday was just what I needed, a day with the family at Stephen’s mother’s house. There, we walked around her very charming and picturesque pond, talked, snacked on bread and candy, and drank cappuccinos. Stephan and Natalie went to go visit Stephen’s father because he now lives in a home, so for a while it was just Ombeline and I talking outside while Maxent and the grandmother were inside (Faustine stayed home because she already had plans with friends). It was also very nice and sunny weather.
As you can see I had a very busy week and I suspect that my weeks are going to start being more like this with my friends, family and I try to do everything we want to before I leave in just six short weeks!