- In the beginning of the month my gym class switched over from weight lifting to dancing. There are three rotations throughout the year. Since the beginning of the year, I had been building muscle in the weight room at school but now I spend my Monday mornings in the gymnasium, dancing in circles with my friends, a change for the better, if you ask me! We will have to choose a theme and choreograph a dance for the BAC by the end of January. Gym class is much more serious here than in the U.S (but that’s not saying much since back home I rarely even changed clothes for “gym”) and since it’s two hours, we actually get some exercise out of it!
- Throughout the month I’ve been seeing a lot of AFSers, but not because of arranged AFS weekends, don’t worry-I would have written a post all about that! But actually because when kids change families, (which has been happening a lot recently) they spend a couple nights in between houses, at my own! These sleepovers with me are referred to as “debriefing” where my host parents, AFS volunteers, talk about why it didn’t work out with the first family and prepare the student for their fresh start.
- I went shopping in Valence with my friends, an outing that presented itself with my first opportunity to take a train thus far in my experience in France! On Friday, my friends and I were finished with our classes by noon so we choose to eat a lunch of sandwiches that we got at a boulangerie instead of the food at the cafeteria. We ate at the train station as we waited for the train and after a ten minute train ride that cost 2 euros, we were in Valence! We walked around and shopped for our families (and host families) through the old streets and Victor Hugo shopping mall; until well after dark and then met up with one of my friend’s mom who drove us home.
- I also went shopping in Valence one Wednesday afternoon with my host mom and sister; when we got home I found a package from my mom. I knew what it was before I opened it: a book my mom had e-mailed me about finding in a used-book store: Post Cards From France, written by a sixteen-year old girl from Connecticut who recounts the year she spent spend abroad with AFS in Valence (why is everything happening in Valence?!), in 1995. I finished it in one night and was excited to bring it to school to give to Eliza for her to read as well, but it turns out she had already read it! I know the majority of people who are reading this are family or friends but if you happen to be someone who found my blog because you are interested in going abroad (or are currently on a program) you should definitely track this book down. I was struck by how well she put her experience into words and how well it puts mine into words as well, even 16 years later!
- I got all my Christmas shopping done early this year and sent a package to my family back home in the first week of the month. To my relief, I’ve received word from my mom is that it has arrived, and on this side of things I also received a box full of presents! One from my grandma (Thank you!) and one from my parents, with a couple (very much appreciated) things for me, but also gifts for my host family.
- Okay, now what I’ve been wanting to get to all along: today, the first day of Christmas break!!! My school day started at nine but I spent too much time enjoying my breakfast (a nutella baguette) that I got to school just in time. And good thing I did because a kid in my class made a presentation on Lindt chocolate, complete with a box of lindt chocolate for the class... pretty sure he’ll be getting a good grade! After that we had an hour of economy in which half the class was studying for the math test we had afterwards and the other half was thinking solely of break that we would have at the end of the day! Can you guess what half I was part of??? After the test (that took place in the big scary room you all have seen pictures of) I wished my teacher ”bonne vacance” and was officially on vacation! I ate lunch at school with my friends and then we went out to eat cake to celebrate!
- I gave my friends Sally Hansen nail strips (which my mom sent me as they are not available in France) as Christmas presents because I had a zebra pattern on my nails on the first day of school which attracted lots of attention! In turn they bought me two nail polishes at the pharmacy, which was so sweet!
After my friends left on their bus, I walked Eliza over the bridge and we took pictures with the pretty lights in town: