Monday was the beginning of the end… Of my French high school experience that is. It was a good day, besides my cold I had. I ate lunch with two friends in my class, Victorian and Eva. I ate lunch with them most every Monday, but this lunch was one of the few times I was really apart of the conversation which is an amazing feeling to not only be able to understand, but to respond fast enough to keep up with the conversation is still so rewarding even over five months in.
My two, hour and a half science classes were unusually entertaining and my teachers even said a little goodbye to me after class. Not every teacher did that so I thought that was especially nice of them.
Then the next day that is usually one of my boring days, was actually not a bore! For most my art history class, we sat and talked and drew the first letter of our firstname in as fancy calligraphy as our art skills could give (my art skills are not very good despide what my mom might say, but I tried). Not only was it our last art history class, it was also my last day eating at Fast! It wasn’t anything special that day but it was still as good as always. I’m going to miss the baguette sandwiches and fries. I usually had a panini but I think that the Bricker household is still big on paninis (at least I’m hoping) so I don’t think there will be much longing for a hot sandwhich.
It being the last week of school, one of the final steps in my exchange, hit me harder on Wednesday. I didn’t cry, I actually didn’t cry at all this past week which is unlike me with goodbyes. Anyway, after a messy lab in MPS and completing our forty-five second video in my art class, I was on my bus to Republique from the school. I had about ten minutes to reflect on how this was the last Wednesday I would have to worry about not making my next bus and being late getting home and thus eating alone. I actually did make my second bus to my town with only seconds to spare, but I still couldn’t get it out of my head that this particular humpday, was a little milestone for me. I think mainly because it was probably the last time I really had to worry about being late for my public transport. But after lunch with Ombeline, Natalie and Maxent, Maxent went back to school because he had detention for drinking water in class. I thought that was a little ridiculous just how I think it’s ridiculous that you have to miss the whole class even if you are only a few minutes late. For whatever reason, that is the way they do things here and they seem very set on their ways. Speaking of ways, I’m trying to get back into my old ways of eating healthy. I made avocado dark chocolate balls for my family. I knew they were good because my host mom even asked for the recipe. Tip: there are a lot of instagram accounts with very clever and fun recipes for healthy eating.
Thursday I started an hour later than usual and then in my next two classes, math and English, we all brought our assigned food, candy or drink (I brought coke) and sat in a big circle eating and talking. I also wore my tie-dye shirt that I had my whole class sign. Then in EJS class, my friend Aude and I talked about all the places we’ve traveled too and all the places we want to go someday. She’s been all over Europe and even a lot of the northern part of Africa! It was really cool listening to all of her travels.
By lunch time, the back of my shirt was almost totally covered with notes and so was Eliza’s. Her, Saku and me ate our last lunch at the school together while talking mostly about what we are going to do our last two weeks here in France. None of us are planning on wasting anytime being bored at home.
After my last two hour of History-Geography, I was finally out for the day. I talked with Faustine and her friends for a while after school and some of the guys started to draw on my shirt, so now I have a cat and a dinosaur added to the collection of farewell notes.
Usually my journey home after school days are uneventful but that day I saw a doppelganger of a guy I had class with sophomore year. The weird thing is though, I quite frequently see a person that reminds me or even resembles a person I know in the States. The other unusual thing was that this sketchy house with a lot of sketchy people who didn’t speak French or English living in it was boarded up. By that I mean all the windows and doors were taken out and replaced with concrete blocks cemented together. Nothing is getting in or out of that house now. I’m a little curious to know what happened. I asked Faustine but she didn’t know either.
When I woke up Friday morning, I felt great, even though I haven’t gotten a solid night’s rest since before my weekend in Paris, I was feeling good about the day to come. I was really excited in knowing that this was my last day having to wake up early to go to this school that everyone liked so much for whatever reason. I was also excited because I would be finished at 12:15 so my only two classes were French and EPS (PE). In French we had a food party and talked about what we all wanted to do in our futures. Then in EPS we went to a nearby park for a scavenger hunt. I’m not really sure as to why we went because it was raining quite hard for an outdoor adventure. Thankfully a girl in my class lived just next to the park so a few of us went to her apartment. We got a call only ten minutes after arriving from a guy in our class telling us that we were leaving early. So the six of us quickly walked back to the classes meeting spot. And by the time we got there we were just as soaked from the rain as everyone else, so the teacher didn’t suspect a thing. We then waited around in the school’s gym and ate candy that the teacher had brought for us while we waited for the remaining thirty minutes of the day to pass. When the time came, I said goodbye to my few friends I talked to the most in my class with. I was never really close with anyone in my class except Saku and maybe Aude because of the few impenetrable cliques in my class. But no worries, I still consider them my friends because they were always so nice to me.
After the goodbyes, I went with Faustine, Emma and Aude to Emma’s house for a picnic. It was originally going to be an actual picnic in a park but it was still steadily raining. There was even lighting and thunder, which hasn’t happened yet in the almost six months I’ve been here. Anyway, I didn’t bring much food but luckily for me, Aude had brought enough chips to share with everyone and even made some extra sandwiches! Sitting there talking with them then going home to take a much needed four hour nap was a great way to kick off summer vacation. In fact, this whole weekend I’m about to tell you about is how I wish I could kick off every summer vacation!
As you may have guessed, I did in fact go to the big market with Eliza. This time I bought some abricots for Faustine, a pineapple, a cantaloupe, and some strawberries. I really hope there is a place like this near where I live, it’s probably going to be one of the things I miss the most. That and shopping. I love shopping the streets verses in an indoor mall. This day we focused on shoe shopping after the market but for whatever reason we both just can’t seem to find what we are looking for. We did go to our favorite cafe and drank some delicious juice and french food. When I returned home I made a fruit bouquet for my family with all the fruit I had bought that day. The strawberries weren’t the best, but the pineapple was amazing and the cantaloupe was to die for it was so good. But later that evening I packed my suitcase to weigh it (I have a few kilos to spare so yay!) but it was so bitter sweet in doing so. I was feeling so excited that I’m so close to seeing my friends and family again but on the other hand, I just had an amazing day in a place that I don’t think I could find anywhere in the Denver area. Even though I haven’t cried yet, I’m sure that all the tears in my tear ducts are getting ready for the heartbreaking final goodbyes in France and the very much looked-forward to hellos in The States.
However,on Sunday I got a little taste of what it will feel like to be with my friends and family again after so long. I took the bus into town and walked to the hotel where my good friend Lara was staying. It was so good to see her again. I forgot how easy it is to talk to her. We didn’t even become good friends until just a few weeks before she left, but I’m really glad we did because I love having free spirited people like her in my life. Her mom and host sister were there as well and they are both so nice and fun to be around. We all had fun driving to Mont Saint-Michel, exploring there and grabbing a bite to eat within its walls. We then made our way to St Malo, but I couldn’t be wander the walled town with them for too long because I had to take the train back in time to make the last bus of the day. I’m really glad that when I get back home that I will have not just someone, but a good friend I can talk to when we both get back home. I’m actually getting really nervous having to go back home. I have a feeling that reverse culture shock may hit me hard but my program has already given me papers to help if that does happen. In many ways this grand adventure is like a dream, not because of the beauty of the experience, but because it’s only you who is experiencing it. All your family knows of it is what you tell them. It’s you who have these new feelings, memories and knowledge about life and yourself. I guess I’m just scared of maybe feeling a little isolated because of it. Whatever feelings I have though, I know my friends and family will help me work through them, so at least I know I have that.
I have a lot planned for these next two weeks before I have to potentially face reverse culture shock or any other less than happy feelings! I don’t think there will even be time for a lazy day at the house, which is a good and ideal thing at this point. I can’t wait to share all my experiences with all of whoever is still reading my blog!