La Meilleur Semaine

I am surprised at how amazing this past week has gone for me. If you do not want to become totally jealous of my exchange experience I would skip reading this blog because I really don’t have a bad thing to say about the past seven days! 
Monday was a more relaxed day. Not much happened besides my host family noticing that my portions of food were smaller, and all of them thinking I was crazy for thinking I was fat and reassured me that I was not fat and to just not care because I was in France! After lunch I went shopping with Natalie and Ombeline. I didn’t buy anything but Ombeline did buy a about ten candles and Natalie bought a very cute purse.
Tuesday was a much more interesting day! I made my whole family an American breakfast consisting of chocolate chip (and a few plain) pancakes, hash browns (which they had never seen before), bacon and a large bowl of various kinds of cut up fruit. They all liked it a lot and said I have to make them pancakes every day from now on. I’m really glad I could do something for them that also helped myself by making me get a little out of my comfort zone. I’m not very confident in my cooking and tend to burn things a little, like I did with the pancakes. Even though I was nervous I knew that my family would smile and say it was all very tasty. Except maybe Maxent, my younger host brother, who didn’t want to try the hash browns because he thought that they looked to strange even though I assured him that they were just potatoes. I didn’t get offended because to someone who has never seen hash browns, I can see why they would be a little hesitant to try them. Eating American food with my host family was defiantly a new experience that further revealed the differences of the food culture between our countries. They weren’t exactly sure how to eat the pancakes, they asked me if they put jam and eat it like a crepe, they also tried to cut up the crispy bacon with a fork and knife to which the fork couldn’t stab the bacon properly because I had made it more on the crispy side, but I very nicely showed them how it is done back in The States. Maxent, despite my little lesson, covered his pancake in butter and ate it with his hands. He said it tasted good though so that made me happy. This was also the first breakfast that the whole family sat down and ate together for. It’s a very important thing in France for the whole family to have a sit down meal for lunch and dinner, but I have to say I have missed having the whole family in their PJs eating together. I think it’s a great way to start off the day and I’m glad that I could show them that part of my culture. The rest of Tuesday, my whole family was out and Faustine had her girlfriend over and another friend and they made cookies then invited me to play some interesting card games with them. I actually understood the last game we played and  I even won a few of the rounds! I felt very accomplished. Then after they left it was just Faustine and I, so we made dinner and ate it outside and hung out and talked and then went inside and watched Spy Kids until the rest of the family got home.
Wednesday was a day I don’t think I’ll ever forget. At least I am really hoping that I don’t. It started off me taking my normal bus to Republique to meet my Canadian friend, Alyssa. I’m really glad I got to spend the day with her. She’s great company as well as a great friend now. We started walking to the train station and picked up a baguette sandwich on the way. Then we figured out how to get our tickets to Saint Malo! Which is the beautiful, walled city right on the coast. The train ride was about forty five minutes long and we arrived in St. Malo at around 1:30. The weather was the hottest it has been in the past three months at a wonderful 76 degrees Fahrenheit with hardly any clouds. Being able to wear shorts and a tank top again almost filled my eyes with tears of joy. It was a little windy though, but hey, you can’t have it all. (Kidding, the wind was more of a nice breeze). While there, we went shopping for souvenirs, walked around everywhere and took a lot of pictures, ate macaroons on the beach and had the most amazing ice cream I have ever consumed in my life. It wasn’t as crowded as I thought it would be so that was another very big plus to the whole experience of the day. However, we had to practically sprint to make our train because we got a little lost. Never fear, we made it with a few minutes to spare! By the time I got home my legs were really sore, but it was so worth it. I slept really well that night.
Thursday I worked out, wrote a lot and hung out with Natalie and Faustine until lunch. After lunch the whole family (except Ombeline who went left for Paris on Wednesday) went to an enormous ‘lake’. I use the quotes because it was so empty it was more of just a monstrous hole in the ground. It reminded me of the Grand Canyon only on a much, much smaller scale. After that we went to Vennes (at least I think that’s where we were) and walked around, ate beignets and visited an old, dark, yet very beautiful and historic church. We also walked around a smaller castle. The west wall was broken down so we couldn’t go inside. It kind of made me sad seeing such a historic thing all crumpled. At least it was just that one side though. I slept a lot on the car ride home. I was very tired from my last two, very long days. But I had another thing coming to me if I thought that those days were long.
Friday I woke up a little later than usual and missed breakfast but I only had to wait a little over an hour for lunch. Which was the first meal (besides breakfast) eaten inside all week because the weather wasn’t up to par for outside eating. After lunch I went to Faustine’s grandparents’ house with her and there we organized medication and pulled weeds from the yard for about two hours. It wouldn’t have been so bad if there wasn’t this one type of weed that would shoot seeds everywhere when you touched it. It scared me and Faustine so many times. It was not fun. After that we went to Faustines friend’s house that had just come home from the hospital and hung out and talked with him for a while. He had something happen to his leg. But he was in good spirits and moving around with crutches and he said he should get better soon. Then after that we went home and got ready for Faustines Aunt’s 50th birthday party! She’s Stephan’s sister and everyone from Stephan’s side of the family is so nice so I was more excited than nervous.  We were some of the first people to arrive and within the next twenty minutes the house was full and I kissed everyone on the cheek who walked in and I tried talked in French as much as I could but meeting all those new people so fast made me feel very overwhelmed. Faustine saw me saw how nervous I was and kept giving me a much needed reassuring smile. After everyone arrived we went in a tent in the backyard and ate a whole bunch of yummy French snacks and drank a whole bunch of cider and champagne. I also went outside with Faustine and her cousins when they would take their (frequent) smoke breaks. It’s just an interesting culture difference how not a big deal smoking is. When it came to be about 10:30 when dinner was finally served which was galette saucisse (a galette wrapped around a sausage). It is very popular here in Bretagne because also originated here. Or so I hear. Anyways it was very good except the first one I ate had very spicy mustard that made my eyes water and my nose feel as though I just snorted spice. The cake was served at midnight. But the birthday cakes here are not like they are in America. Her cake was basically just very large apple tart. They even sang “Happy Birthday” in English after singing it in French and the a few flags and things of that sort were in English which I found interesting. Then for the next two hours we danced and played games. I helped my team by being able to name the song “Thriller” the fastest, but it was hard for them to understand it because of my accent. I was quite proud of myself because it took every other team a while to figure it out but I knew as soon as the door was half way through its creaking. I couldn’t participate very well in the other games but people talked to me and made me feel included. We left at 2:00 a.m. which I was told by Faustine before the party that that would be the approximate time that we would be leaving but I honestly thought that she was joking because it was an adult party and I thought adults became tired but 11:00 at the latest! The French really do know how to throw a good party though. It was so much fun and it went by really fast. We were some of the first to leave though so I’m guessing some people stayed an hour or so after we left.
Saturday the whole family slept in pretty late to eat breakfast. After breakfast I went to Republique to eat lunch and hang out with Alyssa again. We ate Kebab which is really, very popular here in France and also really, very good. That night I watched a movie with my host parents and Ombeline and I actually understood a good amount of it and I was able to laugh at some of the jokes! Then Sunday was a much needed lazy day. After a late breakfast followed by a late lunch, I went for a run, hung out, read and watched a funny French movie about a popular French cartoon before I went to bed.
I feel so at ease, happy, grateful and excited for myself about this past week. In addition to talking more with my host family I’ve been studying more French verbs and vocab on my own. Thanks to this past week I’m not as nervous about facing the final 70-ish days of my program. Having had gone through the some tough things in the past 100-ish days has given me a new found confidence to face what might be coming at me in my next few years with many new challenges that I am sure will be thrown at me. It’s more clear than ever that on an exchange you learn so much more than just a new language.

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