The joys of living 3500 miles from home; a constant stream of video calls and Snapchats at very inconvenient times, mom asking everyday if everything is going well, dad trying to be strong and distant, friends freely sharing each and every piece of gossip, there's even a small feeling like you might be an adult despite the fact you are still very dependent on your parents, and, my favorite by far, packages containing your beloved reminders of home.
I received my first care package this week, artfully put together like Halloween in a box. My mom was generous enough to pack up and send my favorite holiday. I thought this lovely stock pile of treats would last me at least a month, I was horribly wrong. I have eaten 1.9 pounds of Swedish Fish, 2 king size bars of chocolate, a shit ton of Snickers, and numerous lollipops. Only the Skittles have been spared. I certainly can't say my exchange is teaching me self control.
Speaking of self control, let's talk about money. I have never been so broke in my life. You'd think that €140 would last more than a month, you'd be wrong. Every store seems so fancy and you just want to buy everything. I'm pretty sure it is physically impossible to save money while on exchange. There is a tinge of hatred every time I walk past an H&M, because H&M just seems to know just how much money you have and just what you need. I vow to not spend a single euro in H&M this month.
Today, while writing this post actually, I was asked if I was homesick. My first thought was of course not, how could I be? After thinking about it for a minute or two I realized I really am. Not in the sense that I want to go home and I hate it here, just that Vermont is all I've ever known. The mountains, the foliage, and the goddamn maple syrup, that is what I am accustomed to.
I was never taught how to adapt, not in school or in life. Subconsciously we adapt to small things all the time, but a big change such as this is something that doesn't come natural. They're are no instructions, a how to manual won't do shit. You can read and research your time away before moving thousands of miles from home, but nothing can prepare you. Everyday this place feels more and more like home. The public transportation is finally normal to me and the two thousand students at school makes me a little less nervous. The constant intake of baguette after baguette is less troubling. I'm even used to being constantly at a loss for words, simply because I don't know the words. The truth is, I don't want to go home until I have to. Right now, I wouldn't say I'm homesick, I would just say I'm home confused.
One month has passed since the day I boarded a plane in Burlington, VT. One month since I said goodbye to my family and friends, and my dear Luna of course. I am barely able to comprehend the speed at which this month has passed. It may have gone so quickly because I spent my first two weeks sleeping each day away.
That's one of the most difficult things so far, I am always so mentally exhausted. My friends from home are just as exhausted as I this school year. Although, unlike them, I'm not exhausted from mounds of APUSH, Chem, Stats, and Calc. I, on the other hand, am so incredibly tired from translating every single sentence ever spoken to me. On the train I translate those speaking around me, I watch every single show on Netflix in French, I read read bilingual books, I've even changed my phone into French. I am trying as hard as I can to truly emerge myself in the language. From time to time, I reward myself with a video chat with English speaking friends. So far, it seems to be paying off.
I know that this post today while be viewed by some of my MHS friends and teachers, I hope that after reading this you can have gratitude for the exhaustion in your lives. To you, it seems as though your constant learning is just making you tired. I mean what the hell is the point? But, if you take a second to sit there and think how much you have really learned so far while Tilly is throwing all of these US facts, you may be just a little grateful. I feel so much hope for the learning I will have in the coming months, because after a mere month, I have absorbed so much.
Okay, enough about me. I want to tell you about the culture in France. It is really quite difficult to find the differences between the two. Thanks to media the french act, dress, and even use some of the same vocabulary as Americans. I heard a student the other day say "Ce soir sera lit." ("Tonight will be lit."). The teens here make me feel a little at home. The biggest differences are the old parts of the culture. While each generation has their own lingo and style, the food seems to be what survives.
The French are serious about their meals. Snacking is rare, and each meal is carefully thought out. When you sit down for lunch and dinner, you will have three to four courses. First, appetizers, in my family we normally eat a salad. Then, the main course, normally meat with a vegetable and sometime a carb like rice or pasta. Finally, you get to indulge on the beauty of French cheese. If your still hungry, you'll eat a desert, which is normally yogurt in my family. The biggest change,for me, is the food.
My thought provoking question for today: Which culture do you admire the most? Why do you enjoy this culture? Have you been lucky enough to experience this culture? Tell me about it!
Please comment and even share my blog if you desire!
My exchange started about a month ago, on August 29th. So far I've deleted and rewritten about a dozen different sentences explaining how this experience has been 100% amazing. I should be honest, it has been hard and trying at times. Each day I tell myself the obstacles are normal and they will disappear soon. I see the students who have been here since January, I see how great their french is and how much they enjoy their time here. I know that soon enough that will be me.
So far school has been the hardest. Lycée Henri-Poincaré has a little more than 2000 students. That is a huge change from the 300 or so students at Montpelier High School. This number of students makes it incredibly difficult to make friends. Not to mention the language barrier. Some of my friends speak English, but I really want to be able to speak French with them. I often try and have noticed my ability to communicate in French is improving.
Just this weekend I was able to travel to one of my dream cities, Paris! I can't begin to explain the excitement I felt being in this phenomenal city. The architecture is beautiful and the culture is everything I dreamed of it being. One of the many places we visited was the Assemblée Nationale. As many people know, I want to be a politician in the future. To be able to look at huge room filled with the red velvet seats the politicians sit in when discussing important topics and making monumental decisions furthered my desire. I can hold such a powerful position.
At the end of each blog post I want to pose a thought provoking question, if you'd like you can tell me what you think in the comments or simply let your ideas mull.
Today I ask you this: What is the most important way to record your memories? Are physical manifestations an important record or do you believe our memories are reliable enough to record important and meaningful events in the timeline of our lives?
Who am I?
My name is Callie-Lyn Dalley. For my junior year of high school (2017-2018) I am embarking on an exchange year in Nancy, France. This exchange will lead me to grow as a person and intellectually.