Saturday, December 5, 2009
The view from our room in St.Tropez
The pool...which I swam in almost every day
Port Grimaud, I think it's absolutely beautiful there
La Gendarmerie Nationale!
Hiking...eating lunch on the steps of a chapel....hiking
Grimaud again, I love the flowers! I love how there are so many flowers growing in France in general, it's wonderful.
Bowling for my birthday! (the bowling ball never made it to the end, so we used another one)
The two most amazing cakes I have ever seen. They tasted good too! I still can't believe my (host) mom isn't a professional cake maker. I guess French people just know how to cook, which makes sense, seeing as they're known for their cuisine.
Ok now my measly pumkin pie is dwarfing in comparison.....If only there was a way for everyone to know what it smelled like fresh out of the oven!
Friday, December 4, 2009
First up, me, of course.
I recieved so many wonderful gifts too! I was honestly very surprised at so many birthday wishes and presents.
I got presents from both families (in the U.S. and France), presents from friends in Premiére and Terminale at school, presents from the neighbors, and so many happy birthday wishes! I am glad to know so many people care about me. I'm also glad that it didn't make me homesick, because I realize something like that really has the potential to bring on thoughts of family and friends who are currently far away.
I think everyone for making my birthday such a special event here in France.
Following were the birthdays of Clémence, my host sister, now 7 years old. The brithday of Fred, my host father, and the birthday of the great grandmother.
The weekend after my birthday there was a party for Clémence, Fred, and I. Lots of family members showed up. Muriel, my host mom, made two absolutely gorgeous and absolutely delicious cakes!
I made a pumpkin pie!!!!!!!!
In honor of Thanksgiving and for my English class with the assisstant I made a pumpkin pie. I've got to admit that it wasn't very easy. I had to convert mesurements and temperature, and make some other alterations to the two recipes I was using to male the pumpkin pie. After taking most Wednesday night to make it I finally finished. It smelled so good and I was very tempted to eat a slice right then! Luckily, I have good self-control.
I brought it to class that Friday and shared it with my class. I think they all enjoyed it. Personally I found it a little watery, the taste wasn't as strong as usual, but I think this is for the better. I've discovered that sometimes it's better when foreign food has a mild taste than a strong one, because it's something new and eating something new with a strong taste can be a bit shocking.
Overall I was very proud of myself.
Also I got to explain the history of Thanksgiving, including the fact that my ancestor, Constance Hopkins, was one of the very first pilgrims, one of the people who ate the very first Thanksgiving dinner with the Native Americans.
I know that there is more that I want to say, but I can't exactly remember what right now...
So for now the end of yet another post.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Just to prove the point of how uncelebrated Halloween is here, I forgot to write about it for the month of October.
It is not very celebrated, or really falltime in general....
There are barely any kids that go out trick-or-treating
No "haunted hayrides," over-decorated lawns full of fake spider webs, witches, coffins, etc.
No running through corn mazes, picking apples in orchards, or apple cider
The leaves do turn different colors and fall here, but there are a lot less trees. So it's not really possible to rake up a big pile to jump in.
It's not that I think it's bad they don't do any of this. It's just interesting discovering how things are so different. I am not sad to be missing it this year, because I know when I return I will be able to do all of those things again. Also once I return I'll be able to tell my host family more about it. All in all I enjoyed being in the South of France for Halloween.
The second thing I've been meaning to mention is about the French language. Even by the end of the first month my ideas and how I think about the French language has changed. I have an analogy but I'm not sure if it will make much sense to anyone else....
When you start speaking and hearing a foreign language everyday your mind starts to change it's ideas about the words.
Suddenly you find yourself almost giving an identity or certain emotion to a foreign word. It's not just "this is the word in French that means this in English"
It's more like "this is another way to say the same thing," just a synonym, just expanding my vocabulary.
For example when you change your level of vocabulary. When you're talking to a little kid you use different vocabulary than if you were writing a college essay. In this way it's almost like speaking a different language.... you change the words you use to be understood in different situations.
Also, in an attempt to better explain what I mean about the "emotions" or "feelings" that foreign words take on, I will try to give an anology.
Giving an identity to a word, is like relating a name to a person.
For example, I'll use the name "Bob."
You might love the name Bob or you might absolutely hate it.
But when you meet a person named Bob, you don't think "I hate this person because he's named Bob" or "I love this person, because his name is Bob"
Instead you think of the personality of that person. When you hear the name Bob, in reference to that person, the personality is what you think of, not your personal opinion about the name in general.
So maybe the concept is a little convuluted, but I hope I have at least conveyed it in a way that people can at least partially grasp this notion.
I will being writing another post when I can about the month of November and be adding some more pictures too.
Thank you to all who continue reading my blog.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Learned lots of new words:
Most of them are related to violence. This is because I am reading Candide by Voltaire. One of the functions of the novel is to show the horrors of war in order to show people that there isn't any glory in killing people. Sometimes it gets a little more descriptive than I'd like. Although, I am proud of myself for reading up to chapter 16 so far.
Went to Metz:
The first AFS orientation after being here for a bit. It was wonderful. I really enjoyed meeting up with the friends I'd made at the Paris orientation. I also made some wonderful new friends. We had a lot of fun attempting to draw a map of France. Also we played some fun games, like pretending we were amoebas and playing "pierre, feuille, ciseaux" to move up to a higher status/life form. I was horrible the first time, but it was fun anyway.
Went to a "Bal Folk":
This was really interesting going to. I got to here the folk music typical in the different regions of not just France but Europe in general. Typical music for parts of Italy, Spain, Russia, Ireland and other countries were played. I tried my best to learn the dances of the different regions. Unfortunately I was quite tired, and lapsed in and out of being a good dancer. My mind just couldn't hold concentration after "un, deux, trois..." But it was quite late so that was probably why.
Made more friends:
Still making lots of new friends. Everyone is so nice here! (I believe I've said this before.) I love talking to my friends throughout the school day, whether it's before classes, during lunch, or after school waiting for the bus. It's funny still having some people come up to me and say "oh you cut your hair!" The school here is definitely bigger and I don't see some people as often.
Took some actual tests in almost all of my classes:
I didn't really recieve grades as much as "bien" or "bon travaille." My host mom was impressed, so I know I'm not doing too badly, because she's a teacher too... I'm just relieved the teachers are nice and understanding.
Met an American!
Their is a new teacher's assisstant for English class. She has lived in New York for 15 years but originally was from Peru. It was very funny when, after half the class introduced themselves, I said "My name is Yvette Alexandrou. I'm 16 years old and I am an American foreign exchange student." The whole class was laughing and especially the teacher's assisstant.
Went to a track meet:
My host siblings competed in a competition of "athletisme" for the day. It was interesting to watch all the different events. Seeing all the kids crowd around the scores after reminded me of being on the swim team, because all the kids do the same thing at swim meets.
Saw a french version of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream:
So, what can I say about this? Well, it was long, and a farce. Basically, four hours of rapid French to tell quick jokes was not processing so well. I did enjoy the scene pictures created though and all the costumes kept things more interesting. Every time a character came out they would be wearing something different. In French, though, the rhyming of the lines doesn't work anymore, so I did miss that.
For "Les Vacances De La Toussaint" my host family and I went to the South of France to St. Tropez. It is most known for the famous movies of the "gendarmes," policemen. The Gendarmerie Nationale is located there. We went to visit it and of course took pictures. The whole week the weather was wonderful and it was between 20°C-27°C or for my friends in the U.S.A. about 70°F-80°F and it was always sunny. We went for long walks throughout the week and of course spent time at the pool. I also got to go swimming in the Mediterranean Sea, which for me, was very exciting. St. Tropez and the bording towns remind me of what I'd expect California to look like. There are palm trees, the sea, mountains, vineyards, and of course some very wealthy people living there. Also on the car ride down we drove through Switzerland and I also got to see Mont Blanc (from the distance) but it was all very beautiful. I loved seeing all the castles on mountain tops throughout the journey to the south. To sum it all up, I really enjoyed vacation. Seeing new places and things and spending time with my (host) family was great.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
During this first month here, I have:
> arrived in Paris and stayed there for a few days with other AFSers
I enjoyed meeting so many new people from so many places! I wanted to practice my French with my roomates, but discovered I was the only one that had been studying it for two years. The others knew almost nothing in French. We took a tour around Paris which I really enjoyed. Although, I would've like to have taken a longer tour of the city, but with such a large group of people I know this makes it more difficult. I believe there are something like 200+ foreign exchange students from all over the world staying in France for the year.
> took the train from Paris to Metz
I was so excited to meet my family on my train ride to Metz. I loved looking out at all the new landscapes. It's very beautiful here and I love seeing the small towns scattered everywhere and nestled in valleys. Also I talked to a person on the train in French and I was very proud of myself. It was my first real French conversation in France. I met my family at the train station, they were all there waiting with a "Welcome Yvette" sign. I was so happy to finally meet them!
> have been going to school in France
Almost everything about school here is different from my school in Maine. The classes are shorter (55 minutes long), but there are more of them. This is possible because you don't see the same teachers everday, and the schedule changes, so that it repeats every two weeks. (There is a week A and a week B). I think I have about 14 different subjects that I'm taking right now. These classes will last for the whole year. I am in Première, which is the equivalent of 11th grade in high school.
Almost everyday I meet new people at school, and everyone is so nice! They are all very excited to meet a real American. I have also had a few people tell me they love my accent, which is very cool. I know sometimes there are certain accents that don't sound very good speaking some languages. Although I also realize this can be subject to personal opinion. So who knows, maybe there are French people who don't like my accent.
The grading system is from 1-20, and 15 is considered pretty good. The teachers never give out 20's, I think. Although I wasn't surprised by this, because I knew the system was different before I came over.
Everyone is a lot more concentrated and willing to do their school work, and do it well. Even when they have free periods they study. I think this is great, but sometimes I wish I could talk to other people during my free time......well, I do talk to people when I have a free period, but sometimes I feel like I'm intruding or keeping them from studying. I don't want to annoy anyone, but at the same time I want to improve my French.
The school food is more elaborate here. It looks like it takes more time to prepare. All the same it's not always amazing, but maybe that's just because I'm a bit picky sometimes. I have been making sure to try everything at least once though. I discovered that there are some things I like now that I didn't before. At school we have French fries a lot, although it's funny because they call them "americains frites" (American fries). They usually have a dessert with their lunch too. Basically, they eat a lot more than I thought they would. I always get asked why I don't eat so much. I explain that I just have a small appetite. (but that happens to me in the U.S. too)
There is a lot of PDA (personal display of affection) in the school, of course. Bisous, hugging, holding hands, etc. Although hugging is more reserved for couples, which is unfortunate, because I miss hugging people. Although, I've discovered that giving bisous is not so bad, and I enjoy greeting people. The French kids at school always acknowledge other people they know when they pass by each other. They smile, or wave, or say "salut" to each other. It's nice. Being recognized in a foreign country is comforting and makes me feel like I fit in here. I think the French people would find it strange that "PDA" is an actual term for me, and that in my school in Maine it is not allowed. If they tried to prohibit that in France I think there would be war or at least numerous riots.
> figured out the bus system...I think
It took a little while, but I believe I can figure it out now. My French is improving, so now it's easier to ask for help or what bus to take (just in case I'd need to ask, that is). I take the bus in the morning to go to school and in the afternoon I take it to go back home. It sounds simple enough, but I only figured it out fter making a few mistakes. But most of the French people are quite sympathetic to my case and try to help me out.
> learned how to set the dinner table
So maybe it's just a small thing, but it's different from what I know. The fork on one side of the plate, knife on the other, small spoon and fork above the plate, and one (or two different sized) glass(es) above that. There are two plates, one on top of the other, and a napkin on top of both of them. That's how it's set up when guests are coming over. I like it and how everything has a certain pace to go. It's all nice and orderly.
> discovered French fashion
I learned that French people don't wear as much color as people from where I live. They like sticking to blacks and grays. Their fashion is simple and very stylish. They pay a lot more attention to what they wear. They always look well-dressed.
> got a haircut....in France!
Yes, I did get my haircut in France. Yes my family did help explain what I wanted to the hair dresser. And yes, I was very thankful. So I will add another post soon with some pictures of my family, the area I live in, and my new haircut.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Here's a list of a few things I've discovered:
*there are more pets in France than there are children
*women were not allowed to vote in France until 1944
*cave paintings in Lascaux are estimated to be over 15,000 years old
*cotton candy is called barbe a papa "dad's beard"
* it's rude to put your hands in your lap during a meal, French (and it seems Europeans in general) find this really strange
* there are over 500 varieties of cheese made in France
[information found at culturegrams.com]
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Friday May 29th
Friday, May 15, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
My mother and I painted this floorcloth by hand and we are raffling it off at several different locations as a fundraiser for France. It's dimensions are 8' 5" x 5' 6.5" Listed below are the places and dates of where the floorcloth will be displayed for anyone interested in buying a raffle ticket.