Saturday, January 3, 2009

"But sooner or later, we find the end to everything. But life goes on"

Hey everyone.
So today is Sunday and I leave France on Wednesday and I just wanted to do one last blog post before I no longer have the need to do one.
So it's been 1 year (almost to the day) since I left my comfy life in NZ to try something that I knew would be a life changing experience. As I left I wasn't really sure what to expect, although I had my hopes of how it would be. Looking back on it I dont know why I found the first weeks so hard but I can still recall the feelings I felt.
12 Months later, Here I am, sitting inside "My" house in France, thinking about coming back to NZ and leaving my comfy life I have created here. I have changed so much this year in ways not even I have figured out yet and I can tell now that its going to be a long process to get re-adjusted into my life in NZ.
This year has been absolutely amazing. I have done and seen things that have blown my mind, but the most important thing, the thing I am going to miss the most, is the people I have met. This year has truly been the life changing experience I thought it would be and I wouldn't change a thing about it.

I just also want to thank everyone for following my blog though out the year. I hope you have felt somewhat included in my "French Foray" and have enjoyed seeing the things I have seen and done this year.

See you all soon
Thanks Heaps

Monday, December 22, 2008

!!!!! PARIS !!!!!

Hey Everyone,
Just got back from spending a weekend in Paris with my host family. It was good to finally get to see it after 11 months, especially as it was all lit up for Christmas. Anyway, the photos are pretty self-explanatory.

The Petit Palace and The Grand Palace

The Hotel de Ville

My dinner on Sat night. Cheese only.

The Place de la Conchorde

The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower

The Notre Dame

The Notre Dame

The Sacre Coeur

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"Greve"-ing with the "Grenouilles" (Striking with the Frogs)

Today was the day that I became truly French. Striking is pretty big a part of the culture in France and I'm glad I got to do it before I leave. Today at school most of the students went on strike because the government in France is changing around the Baccalaureate so that you can't take some subjects like History and Economics which all the students are really annoyed about, so instead of just living with it, most of the public schools all over France did whats called a "Blockus" which is pretty much where you put a bunch of rubbish bins, grills, etc. in front of the entrance of the school so the kids can't get it. Most of the schools only have 1 small door that leads out onto the street which is pretty easy to block up but our school has steps that lead up to 3 doors so it took us about an hour to block it all up. In that time some kids had gotten inside and, unfortunately for them, had to stay inside unil 5:30pm when the school day finishes. It was a pretty cool sight to see and something that I felt I really needed to experience.
(the photos are a bit smaller cause I took them on my phone).

This is what my school USUALLY looks like.
But Today.......

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hey Everyone.

Sorry I have been so slow with my blog but my laptop has been out of action for the past two weeks, but its back up and running now so I thought it was about time I finally got onto my blog.

So after the holidays I changed host families to my 3rd and final host families. Its been going really good with them and I'm having an awesome time.

I have started school again. Im in 2nde again (The equivalent of 5th form) which isnt that bad. The only down point is that im with kids who are about 3 years younger than me. Its still good fun and school is a lot more interesting now I understand everything (My french improved HEAPS during the holidays).

2 weeks after school started I had a Rotary weekend to meet all the new students in my district. We have a bunch of new kids from Mexico, USA, Canada, Sweden and a bunch of other countries. Most of the weekend was spent explaining the rules and how to get things organised so I spent most of the time translating all the French into English which was really fun. I also have quite a few new students who live in Nantes so we catch up every now and then. In Nantes there are 2 Mexicans, 1 Canadian, 1 American, 1 Swede and a German. Its been good fun showing them around and pretending to be wise and experienced.

After the Rotary weekend I had two weeks of school before out next Rotary weekend, which was a trip to Mt St Michel, plus my parents were coming to visit. My parents arrived on the Friday afternoon before the trip so I took them on a little tour of my city. It was cool to show them around where I had been living for the past 9 months. It was interesting to see that they found it so beautiful because I dont see it like that anymore. Its where I live and its just become a part of everday. Having their fresh opinion made me love Nantes even more.
That night we had a dinner with my 3 host families and my parents which was kind of strange to have my real parents and the people who had pretending to be my parents in the same room although at the same time it was really cool.

The next morning we got up pretty early to go to Angers (A town nearby) to catch a bus, with the rest of my district, to Mt St Michel. When we arrived we had 30 mins to have a quick look around Mt St Michel then we got shown our cabins where we were staying for the weekend. There were about 4 districts there so I got some time to catch up with some friends who I hadnt seen since Eurotrip so that was really really cool. We all had lunch and then we went for a walk across to a big rock(We dont know why). You can only walk over at low tide and it was a bit muddy so it made for an interesting walk.

The next day we had a proper tour of Mt St Michel. We were supposed to have a look inside the church at the top but I didnt go. I figured that I have spent enough hours this year looking around churches. Once you've seen one, you've seen them all. It was quite interesting just looking around, although it is so touristy that it was annoying.
After the tour we had a final lunch and then had to say goodbye to everyone before we left. It was quite sad because it was our last Rotary weekend for the year so it was the last time I saw lots of my friends.

The Monday after the weekend I got up early with Mum and Dad and we took the train to go to Tours. We rented a car and spent the next 2 days looking around the Loire Valley region and going through all the important chateaus which was amazing and it was so cool to see my parents again and spend some time with them.

After seeing my parents I have just been going to school and spending time with the exchange students in Nantes, although I have been spending most of my time at home with my host family.
I haven't got much planned for the rest of the year. I have just started the holidays today so I have 2 weeks where I will just be hanging around Nantes and maybe organising some fun stuff with the other exchange students. e.g. Go-karting, laser strike etc.
Next holidays I am FINALLY going to get to visit Paris with my host family. Im sure it will be awesome and im really looking forward to it.

Other than that. Only a little more than 2 months until I come home. My French friends have started asking me the famous question that gets on the nerves of every exchange student. "Are you excited to be going home?". Truth is, no. It will be really cool to come home after a year and get back into the swing of normal life but i'm REALLY not looking forward to leaving.

Good luck to everyone for the exams.
See you all Soon.
Mont St Michel

Mont St Michel

Mont St Michel

My friends Bek and Jas in the quicksand

The walk to the rock

Mont St Michel

The gardens of the Chateau Villandry

The Chateau Villandry

Chateau Villandry

The Chateau Azay-le-Rideau

The hotel we stayed in

The pathway to Chenonceau





Cheverny, The chateau from the Tintin comics.



Tuesday, August 26, 2008

And so, another summer comes to a close

Hey Everyone.

Sorry I have been SO SO lazy with my blog lately, but it's the summer holidays (Well, that's my excuse anyway).
I have about 2 weeks to go until it's back to French school. It's not going to be easy after my 3 months of Summer holidays which started back in the beginning of June when it still felt like I had an eternity before I even had to think of coming home. Its hard to think that in less than 5 months (21 weeks) I will be back in NZ.

I have been having an AWESOME holiday. Since my last update I have been to the South of France, to Aix-en-Provence, Avignon and Marseille. I have also been to Sweden and Denmark which was a really cool trip. I don't have a lot of photos from my trip as it was more of a personal holiday for me to have a poke around Europe and catch up with some friends of mine who I haven't seen for 6 months or more. Having said that I do have photos so I will put up those which I do have.

During my trip I spent 2 weeks in Marseille and saw just about everything there is to see there. It is a nice town but its quite dirty as there isnt a lot of rain to keep it clean. It was a very interesting visit and I stayed with some friends of mine and it was really cool to see them.

During the two weeks in Marseille I popped up to Avignon for a day to see the SKC kids on the France Trip. It was really really cool to see them. Until then it was as though I had two lives. One in NZ and a completely separate one in France. Catching up with friends from home was a really bizzare experience as it was bringing something from one life to another but it was so cool to see them.

After my visit to Marseille I went to Paris and took my flight to Copenhagen (After being searched and having my luggage checked by the Police on the TGV). After arriving in Copenhagen I had to take a 3 hour train to Malmo in Sweden. All up it was 9 hours of travelling + 6 hours at Paris airport.

I had such an awesome time in Sweden. I stayed with a friend of mine who is doing her exchange in Sweden. She lives very close to Denmark so we went and explored Copenhagen for a day. Copenhagen is such an awesome city. Very different to all the other cities I have seen in Europe and one that I think I would definately want to return to later on.

After spending 4 days in Sweden I moved over to Denmark. I spent 2 weeks in Denmark and saw many of the towns there. Denmark looks a lot like NZ, in comparison to France which looks nothing like NZ.

The best part of my trip was staying with all my friends, getting to spend time with them and just having fun while getting to see some really cool countries.

Now I am in Aix-en-Provence, staying with a friend of mine until the end of August when I will be returning to Nantes to restart school. I am really looking foward to getting back as I will get to see all the new exchange students who have just arrived from the USA, Canada and Mexico.

So, with only 21 weeks to make the most of I will be keeping myself busy (I hope) and having as much fun as possible before coming home in early January.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Holiday Wind Down (4.5 months to go)

Just a picture of the street to show the difference between Nantes and the South of France

The main fountain in Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence by night

The house where I was staying

A really old hospital in Marseille

The old Major in Marseille

The old Major, from the front

I forget the name of this place but it was built by Napoleon for his wife. She only stayed in it 1 night because she didn't like it.

The church of Saint Laurent which dates back to 850AD

The Abbey Saint Victor which dates back to 315AD



The Palais Longchapmps

The Old Port of Marseille

A sign in Sweden. It means "Final Sale" in Swedish, but it means something else in English.

My friend Alana (right) and her host sister Sophie having Ice-cream

Me and Sophie having Ice-cream



The rooftops of Copenhagen, In the distance you can see the bridge that goes to Sweden.

The rooftops of Copenhagen

The Canal in Copenhagen

The Royal Palace in Copenhagen

Christiania is a separate community that used to be removed from the E.U. You cant take photos inside because most the stuff that goes on in illegal.

A concert we went to of a local Danish pop band

Sky Mountain in Denmark. Its actually only 3m higher than the Nevis bungy in Queenstown.

The view from the highest point in Denmark

The Little Yellow house on the corner on the left hand side is the house where H.C. Andersen grew up. He is the man who wrote over 130 fairy tales including The Ugly Duckling and the Princess and the pea.

The view from a bridge in Frederecia, Denmark

A typical Danish street in a little village.