mercredi 24 décembre 2008

Making Meringues and Noel!

Wow. It’s ALMOST Christmas!
I’ve been here for…a long time now. Just about 5 months. Which means that I’m approximately half-way through my year abroad in France.

And wow. The first 3 months were hard. The first month I found a friend in my sister, but didn’t find any at school. I didn’t understand anyone, and no one could understand me. The second month I started a new school, and realized that it’s actually pretty hard to find friends at a new school. And the last 3 were just…hard sometimes, but wonderful mostly. I made a good thanksgiving dinner, hung out with people here that I love, will celebrate Christmas!
Have I mentioned how much I love my host family? Alain and I talk and watch NCIS and rugby together. Helene knows my preference for apples for dessert, and we talk too. Aude is sweet, and is en train de devenir vegetarian. Marion corrects my French (« ce que je mange, pas quoi je mange ») and knows how to play BS. Hmm…Louis is funny, and always tries to help me figure out words. Lucie has a strong personality (some people would say…strong tempered?), but we hang out occasionally, and if there’s something wrong I can talk with her. Pauline doesn’t talk much, but I think she’s accepted my existence comme même. I let Gauthier cheat at ‘Dame’ (checkers…okay, he’s not cheating, but I don’t like the French rules! they’re not fair!). Arthur and Charlotte make noise all the time, and are possibly the most annoying children in France (or in the US for that matter) Or maybe they’re not. (maybe little kids are just annoying in general? I’m definitely not going to be a kindergarten teacher) It’s different to be in such a big family, but it’s also kind of comforting, because everyone has such a big support system. And it really doesn’t feel like such a large family while living with them. It feels normal. (I’m going to go home and feel bizarre when setting the table…we put 9 plates right? hehe) And really, I hardly see everyone all together…all in the same room or something. Alain has two children from his first marriage (Pauline at 18 and Mathieu at 24 years old), who only visit occasionally. Aude is only at home for the vacations, and Marion is home every other weekend. I’m trying to imagine everyone on a road trip.

And have I mentioned how much I love my friends? I’m not very close with Samantha, Orane, and Charlotte, who I hung out with the first month at lycee, but I don’t think I was ever very close with them to start out with. (I find that they’re nice, but a little exclusive) But I’m really close with Juliana, who just moved to the Meymac area from Gironde (so she’s starting out fresh too), and Elise, who reminds me A LOT of Mary Rose (a girl I played AYSO soccer with), which is pretty bizarre. Also with Marie, Noemie, Julie, and Charlie, who I hang out with Thursdays and Fridays after school. It’s easy to talk with them, and they’re sweet—huggy and free-thinking. They like Manu Chao (¡me gustas mañana, me gustas tu!) and Charlie plays some pretty awesome electric guitar, and Marie plays a little bit of guitar and sings. (she says she doesn’t sing well…but she’s modest! She’s great!) The Friday before the winter vacation, we all went to the “Espace Jeune,” and Charlie played guitar and Flora played the bass, Marie and Solene sang, I played a little bit of piano. Everyone else listened, and/or sang along. It felt a lot like…the guys’ band practice at our house, or something. It was comfortable, and loud.
AND I LOVE MANIFESTATIONS! So, the French government is trying to reform the Bac, and change the hours of school and change the whole system and everything, and it’s all pretty dumb. (great explanation, eh?) So there’ve been a bunch of protests from the lyceens throughout France (they protest a lot here—a lot more than in the US) And last Thursday there was a ‘greve,’ meaning that none of the students went to classes all day (okay, there were about 5 in our classe that went…the losers! just kidding) and around 2 there was a ‘manifestation,’ where about 50 or 60 of us met around centre ville in Ussel. We formed a big group and the police was there (along with a reporter from Bleu-Limousin radio), and we marched in the streets of Ussel, (blocking traffic!) and sang songs. (« Trois marches devant, trois marches derrière, c’est la politique du gouvernement! ») It was really just…awesome. I mean, we weren’t the only ones protesting…hundreds of teenagers throughout France were doing the same thing. How come we don’t do things like that back home?

Yup. I dunno…I’m really at home here. It’s normal. With lycee, I’m going to ‘faire du ski’ (we meet Wednesdays after school in January and February, and then we go and faire du ski pendant quelques weekends). Yolaine and Ione are visiting the chateau in a week or so, and there’s an AFS weekend next month. The SNOW here was WONDERFUL. And when there’s too much snow the school bus doesn’t pass by the house and we don’t go to school (and then we go out in the snow and build igloos and ‘bonhommes de neige,’ no joke!). And then it’s beautiful and I take pictures. (Finally some pictures of everyone for you guys back home!) I thought we were going to have a white Christmas, but yesterday we had some sun (for the first time since the beginning of November, honestly!) and our igloo melted and I spent the whole day in jeans and a t-shirt. (it was a good 7 degrees! Um…about 45 degrees Fahrenheit…ooph) I think I’m getting acclimated to the cold.

I’ve had a lot of firsts in France: first real winter, first beer, first manifestation, first taste of elk. (Charlie and Noemie are afraid that they’ve taken away my innocence, and that they’ll send me back to the US an alcoholic or something. Which is pretty ridiculous. hehe)

And I’m excited for Christmas: to open the mysterious presents that Mama and Papa sent, and to see if everyone likes my presents (Arthur will get the t-shirt that says ‘Muscle Beach’ on it!). And I sent home presents, which you’ll all get way too late. Sorry. I hope you get it before February or something.

Hum. I don’t know what else to say. Christmas eve is tomorrow!! New Years is shortly after! And then school will start again and then I have another 5 months to go!

(photos are in next was too slow to include in this one!!)