Please excuse my language as I translate the title of this post to “a shitty week”. For those of you who don’t already know, I am in the process of changing families. Now I know exactly what you’re thinking, I have read hundreds of these kinds of blogs where everything is going great, until that one post that says their whole life was just turned upside down. You want to know the whole story, you want to know why and when and how, and if you’re a prospective exchange student you’re probably getting more and more worried that this will be you one day. But while I’m not going to go into great detail about why when and how, I will tell you how I feel as this train takes me further and further away from the place that’s become my home through the course of these past five months.
You see, when I was 15 years old I found myself in France, in a town called Tournon Sur Rhone; everything was foreign to me, the language, the people, the food, the scenery. But I knew I would be here for ten months and I knew I wanted to enjoy those months. And so I found myself confiding in strangers, being more outgoing than I ever had been before and trying endlessly to be funny and charming in a foreign language, and somehow, remarkably, it worked.
After just a few weeks I had friends who wanted to hang out, teachers who wanted to help, and a town that I knew like the back of my hand. Tournon was the place where I found myself without my family and friends for the first time in my life, both literally and figuratively. It was the place that took me in, as those strangers became best friends who displayed remarkable hospitality and patience. That town had become my home.
Unfortunately, at the actual home, things weren’t going too well. But I’m good at pretending everything is okay, so good that I can get lost in my own game. I found myself making excuses for the things that weren’t okay with my host family and looking past the fact that my situation was less than ideal. I was probably a little scared of change too. I had had a lot of that in past months after all. I needed a push, a boost to get the courage to make the move. And it was those same friends I told you about earlier that we can thank for making me come around and face the task of changing families. My debt to my friends in Tournon is way over my head by now with everything they have done for me. Which is why it’s so hard for me to be sitting on this train right now, surrounded by men in business suits on our way to Paris. They have business to do in the capital, but my unfinished business is all in Tournon.
My ears are popping as we travel through the countryside, a constant reminder that the reality is, I’m moving. I’m on my way to a new family in the outskirts of Paris. My friends had no idea the push they gave me to speak up to AFS would send me all the way to another region, they couldn’t have, it wouldn’t have, usually.
My old host family worked for AFS in my region, making my situation more than immensely complicated. And my friends are doing everything they can to have me back, there is a petition going around my school to protest my absence. I’m going to miss them so much.
I got the news that I would be changing regions during a break between two hours of math Monday. As I broke down in tears, my friends surrounded me as one of them grabbed the phone and told the AFS lady to stop treating me like a pigeon. Apparently she didn’t get it either because I’m still leaving. My friends wrote sweet notes all over a box of chocolates, which I am indulging myself to as I sit here and reminisce. Am I really already reminiscing on them? This all happened so fast.
The positive way to go about this is that I will always have those friends, and I know that I will see them over vacation (the French do have a lot of those anyway!). Besides, who complains about getting to live in the suburbs of Paris, right?
I’m sorry this post doesn’t offer a lot of explanation about this drastic change but I’m warn out of talking about it. It was a week of explaining myself in English and in French, a weeklong roller coaster of emotions. The story is complicated; worn out, but most importantly, not yet finished.