Friday, June 27, 2014

Presque Fini...

      Woah. I'm sitting here looking back at my last blog post and it feels like I wrote it yesterday. I can't believe how quickly time has gone by! I'm finally finished with school. The last trimestre was intense, with lots of evaluations and homework. Especially because my grade was preparing for the Brevet, a super important end of the year test. We had our last kayak session and everyone jumped into the water. (It's so hot here now during the day! Summer has arrived!) I'm a part of the graduating class so there were lots of celebrations in the final week. On Thursday, all the 3eme students participated in a big handball tournament, where each team dressed up with a certain theme. My team's theme was "hippie", and we won out of all the girls' teams!! Whooo! Friday was the school-wide talent show, which I helped film, and the last day of school. It was, of course, bittersweet, because I had to say goodbye to lots of people who I've become close with over the semester. I'm so grateful to all my classmates who helped (and tolerated) me at the beginning, when my French was truly awful. So much has changed but it wouldn't have been the same without their support.

      To kick off the summer, there have been lots of music festivals. My host sister plays in a band so I've gotten to see some of her shows, which have been great! I also visited Lorient for a few days, which was nice. It's the only place in France I've been to that is very modern, because it was totally destroyed in the war. So it was interesting to see, and very different from where I've been living. Other than that, I've been going to the beach a lot with my family... The beaches in Bretagne are so incredible!


      I'm trying not to count how many days I have left here, because I reeeeally don't want to leave! Obviously I'm excited to see my friends and family, all of that, but I've gotten so comfortable here, with my family, and the language, and just everything, and I'm not ready to go. I will never forget the experiences I've had here. I'm so so sooo lucky to have had this opportunity, and I really want to thank everyone who made it possible. But it's not over yet!! I will write a post when I get home, reflecting on my amazing time here and everything I've gained from it. So until then!!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Paris, la plage, et beaucoup des photos!!

Ok, I am finally sitting down to write this very overdue post. I have been crazy busy the entire vacances! I have so much to write about, and have taken tons of photos. I almost feel like I should break it up into two posts, but I'm about to go back to school so I don't know when the next time I'll be able to write is. I'll try my best to fit it all in!

I guess I'll start with the very first day of les vacances. We got up early and drove out to the sea with our neighbors (my host family is very close with them and we are always doing stuff together on weekends), where we went to a place with a big sign that said "Fruits de la Mer", where they were catching and selling fresh crabs, lobsters, oysters, sea snails and other various sea creatures. We picked out some crabs (araignées de la mer = spiders of the sea), oysters, and lobsters, then went to our neighbor's house to prepare it all. For dinner that night we had a huge feast and afterwards, played music and hung out until a little after midnight. 
On Monday, I got on the train to Paris, where I spent the week! The first few days I was with a friend of my host mom, then the rest of the time I was with another AFS exchange student who is living with her host family in a neighborhood just outside of Paris. My first night there, we drove around and saw "Paris by night". Later on, my friends and I walked the Champs Elysées by night as well, which was amazing. 

I got to do lots of sightseeing, and went to the Louvre, which was mind-blowingly huge. People tell you, oh yeah it's the biggest museum in the world, whatever, but you really can't even comprehend it's size once you're actually there, with the masses of other people. Oddly enough, my favorite piece of art was the building itself, I couldn't stop looking at the intricately designed ceilings and murals. I also really loved the Egypt exhibit. 

Le musée du Louvre was incredible, although I have to say that one of my favorite things about Paris was definitely the street art, which was colorful and modern- often including pop culture icons, I noticed- amongst  all the ancient buildings and historical monuments. It made for really interesting contrast and somehow worked together- long story short, Paris is beautiful.

And of course I can't forget about another type of street art- living! Lots of street performance artists were working in and around le plateau Beaubourg, near le Musée national d'art moderne, which has one of the coolest architectural designs I've ever seen! 

The Sacré Coeur and Notre Dame were other tourist-y things I visited, and they were gorgeous. The view of the city from the Sacré Coeur was insane, and the photos I took don't really do it justice. 

The last thing I've gotta mention about my Paris trip is definitely the shopping. Of course there was the Galeries Lafayette and all that, (Chanel and Kenzo galore... I die) but my favorite thing was something I'd never heard of before- Kilo Shops. They're basically high-end thrift stores where everything is labelled by color and each color has a price per kilo. So you end up paying by the weight of your clothes. It's really cool, and fun to hunt around and see what fancy vintage stuff you can find! 
All in all, it was an amazing week and I learned soo much. Coming back from the fast-paced city was actually really nice, too, and I'm happy to be back with my family. My friend Lucy from Rennes came to stay with us for a few days and we went to a few different beaches. Bretagne has incredible beaches, even though it's not warm enough to swim or anything. It got pretty hot during the day, (hot for Bretagne at least... Certainly nothing like ATL.) we splashed around the the water a bit and went pretty far out onto the rocks, exploring all the cool wildlife that make their homes in the shallow pools left by the tide. 

This is in Perros Guirec, about a 45 minute drive from my house:

And this is Ploumanac'h, also in Perros Guirec:

And lastly, my favorite, Plage Bonaparte, which is only about a 30 minute drive:

And here's me and my beautiful host sister, who, as I mentioned in my previous post, is coming back to Atlanta with me in July!  

I hope that wasn' too long and rambly, I wanted to share what I've been up to before I get neck-deep in schoolwork again. (Speaking of that, yikes, I have homework I need to finish.) I finish school on June 20th, which is way later than I'm used to but I'm taking it as a positive because even though it'll be hard, I now have the opportunity to work as hard as I can on my French. And to establish some sort of work out routine... All this bread and cheese, man.. Anyways, thanks for reading this, if you made it to the end! I'll be back with an update when I can! :)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Pontrieux Life

So, I haven't posted in a while because I've been super busy! The rest of les vacances were great. I visited the beach, and another American AFS exchange student, my friend Natalie, came to visit and stay with my host family for a few days. School has been back in session for 3 weeks, and every day is packed! I've taken my first tests for each of my classes. Some of them were super intense and crazy hard, but I think I did really well in History. I've had to study really hard and try lots of new things- for example, kayaking! Every Friday, my gym class walks to the river that runs through the center of our little town, (here's a picture:)

and we gear up for kayaking led by a local instructor and the school's gym teacher. It's really fun but also challenging! When we do exercises, like navigating obstacles and different paddle techniques, it can be difficult to understand what the instructions are, and navigate a kayak at the same time! But I'm loving it. Most Fridays we end school an hour early so I go with my friends and host sister to the little supermarket to buy snacks and hang out in a little park by the river. These are the times when I realize how much progress I've made with my French- conversations are starting to come so easily!

Spring is here and it's soo beautiful. The weather is finally sunny and there are huge fields of bright yellow flowers blooming everywhere, called Colza:

I've got an official AFS weekend coming up in Brest. I'm going to take the train and meet up with all the other exchange students in my area and stay for the weekend. Then the weekend after that, I'm going to Ireland! I'm super excited!

In other news, my host sister and I have become really close. She's very smart and interested in language and travel, and expressed interest in doing an exchange program. Our families have decided that she will return to the U.S. with me in July, and live with us for 3 months. I'm looking forward to showing her my home, and hopefully being able to help her as much as she has helped me here.

Anyways, that's the update! Til next time!

Thursday, March 6, 2014


Recently, I took a day trip to Rennes, which is an hour away from my town by train. I met up with two other American exchange students and we spent the day shopping and sightseeing. It is a really cool city with lots of stuff to do. I hope to go back soon. Here are some photos from the day.

Oh yeah- little did we know that we would get to see a huge parade! None of us realized that it was Mardi Gras, and as we were leaving a shoe store, we found ourselves in the middle of a crazy celebration! There were floats, people in costumes, confetti and loud music. It happened so fast and there were so many people that I didn't get any good pictures, but I got one from afar after we made  our way out of the middle of the parade.

Les vacances have been great so far.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Les Vacances Commence!

So, I've been in school here for about 4 weeks now I think. I was sick for a while so I missed a few days. All of my teachers are patient with me and they understand that I won't be able to keep up with the rest of the class sometimes, so they help me out when they can, which is very nice. French school is hard. I feel like the mentality amongst the students is much more serious than in American high school, and the curriculum is a lot more intense. But creative expression is very important here, too. On Fridays, during free periods, people bring instruments and everyone kinda gathers in one of the break rooms and people start to sing and play songs, just jumping in whenever. It's actually really cool. There are a lot of kids who are very talented. The hardest classes I'm taking are Math and French. Math is difficult because I know the basic concepts already, and I obviously understand the numbers, but the methods of solving things are different than what I have learned. And in French, we're reading and analyzing Voltaire. Enough said. But my host sister has been very helpful and we've been working on our homework together. Her friends are very sweet, too, and I've started to make some friends of my own.

Anyways, today was the first day of our 2 week break. I got to go see a band play in Guingamp. I'm looking forward to some other stuff we have planned for les vacances! That's all for now. :)

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Few Photos...

My host mom has taken me sightseeing several times and it's been lovely. Just driving around out here is so beautiful because the clouds are always moving and the light is shifting and there are frequent rainbow sightings! The countryside is beautiful and quiet yet there is still a lot to take in. Here are some pictures I've taken so far at a few of the places we visited.

Paimpol is a town near to where I'm living. It's a boating resort town. Many people come to vacation here in the summer, and keep their boats here. There are lots of cute creperies here, and pretty much everywhere else you go in Bretagne.

An old castle; La Roche Jagu

Beautiful old churches!! There are so many!

Castel Meur

Le Gouffre

Part of the national park/reserve type place surrounding Le Gouffre.