France - Bonjour from France!
by Nick Abel.
Despite what had been an exhausting and almost lonely few days here in France, I am now taking everything in and those days are far behind me! Initially I felt somewhat alienated from the other kids at the school (what with the whole language barrier and all), but I feel that I'm now rising well and truly to the challenge of being surrounded by a different language and my French has already improved unimaginably.
I can't emphasise just how worthwhile it is to be here, living the mirrored life of a normal French teen. Though it was exhausting at first, I appreciate how effortlessly my host family included me into their already busy lives. I've been treated as a normal person here and expected to follow the same routine as everyone else, which I imagine I'll come to fully appreciate once I've left (my date of departure draws frighteningly near already!).
The other weekend we journeyed into the French countryside, where I was welcomed into the house of my correspondents grandparents like a member of the family. From biking through the breath-taking countryside (still not as good as ours though!) to watching a vibrant indie music festival, that weekend was truly one to remember and helped me to appreciate the approximately 53,282,894 people (thank you Google) who live outside of the bustling hub of Paris. After a fun and immersive week of school, I embraced my inner tourist and visited the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and Notre Dame, among other sites. All this was done via traversing the daunting maze that is the Parisian metro.
The numerous cultural differences between our corner of the world and the land of the roosters continue to astound me. These range from simple observations, such as the fact that one can see swarms of planes above at all times, to flabbergastingly absurd concepts such as having their toilets in a separate room from the rest of the bathroom (just...why?). All and all, I can't thank my family and the staff that made this possible enough for providing me and the other exchange students with such an incredible opportunity.