by Ella Russell, Greenheart Travel high school student in France
Since my last blog, a lot has happened here in France!
First, I met relatives of my host family for the first time. Linda’s brother and his family came over during the weekend before last. I felt a bit awkward interacting with them, and it was probably the same for them too. So in the beginning, while I did make some small talk with the parents, for the most part, I retreated into my books.
Eventually though, I started making Origami (I had brought a pack from the US).Two of my host cousins were interested, and I ended up teaching them how to make Origami cranes, stars, and boxes. Doing this helped to remove a lot of the awkwardness, making it easier to converse.
The next day, with my host uncle, aunt, and their daughter, who was a bit younger than me, I went to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower. We took the elevator up to the summit and slowly made our way down. Despite the cloudiness, the view was great! On the lowest floor, there was an area where the floor was transparent, and an ice skating rink with free skates (which I had not expected). I skated with my host cousin for a while before we drove back.
It was nice to meet host family relations closer to my age. I have a 3 year old (Nahel), and a nine month old (Alycia) for host siblings, and while they are both very cute, it creates a different dynamic from what I expected. I am supposed to speak English with Nahel, who is not very enthusiastic about it, and my host parents are (understandably) very busy with their work and the baby.
I feel that I have settled into life at school. The students are friendly, often practicing their English with me. It is still rather hard to understand what the teachers are saying, but I can generally understand the general idea, and as time goes by, I am understanding more and more.
I have also been enjoying the school lunches, which are a relaxed affair with plenty of choices. You can bring lunch from home, you can reserve a lunch in the cantine (the cooks make just enough in order to not waste food) you can buy food at the cafeteria, or you can leave the school to eat somewhere else. Either way, it is healthy and delicious. In the cantine, people actually eat the fruits and vegetables! I have mostly been eating at the cantine, but I have gone to friends’ houses, and one time, all the way into Paris.
Last Friday, Mickael (my host father), Nahel, and I went to see a play on the Champs-Elysees in Paris! It was a satirical, humorous twist expressed through urban dance about Snow White and several other Fairy Tales meshed together. For example, instead of seven dwarves, there were seven Snow Whites all enamored by one dwarf; in Sleeping Beauty, the prince kept trying to kiss the princess awake, but every time, she would move her head to the side, and for Cinderella, they showed in the forgotten slipper scene, but it was a white sneaker, and there were three sets of princes and Cinderella’s. After the Cinderellas ran away, the princes emerged one by one, crying and moaning hysterically to each other.
Apart from the funny scenes, what caught my attention was the window this performance offered into French culture. For example, there was a running gag about a bear going fishing, bringing food along with him, but forgetting his baguette. Also, during a scene with the three little pigs, they were all smoking together (a past time all too common in France). Less obviously stereotypical though was the way the story was presented. From what I have seen from this play, and some French movies, less emphasis is placed in France on tying stories together into a clear story line; moments are more distinct from each other and at the end, there is less of a resolution. After the performance, we took pictures of the ends of the Champs-Elysees (the Arc de Triomphe, and a Ferris wheel).