Goodbye, France

Hello, everyone. First of all; I'm sorry - And this is my last apology for not blogging, because this is my last blog post. Unless at least 50 diehard fans beg me to continue. Either way, this blog will always be here for those who want to read some of my thoughts and experiences during my year in France (As long as the blog platform works and allows me to), whether you're an exchange student, parent, teenager or what not.

There's not a whole much to say about it, really, I guess I lost both time and motivation to blog the last two months, but I guess those two were probably the best months here. Big creds to all those who manage to keep a blog updated steadily for a long period of time. Trust me, it's not easy. Anyway, I looked at the statistics for visits though, and it's been quite steady, even over the last two months where I haven't blogged, usually rising in curves for Wednesdays and Sundays, when I said I would blog... So thank you, all of you who have been reading my blog and who have followed my journey for one year in a foreign country. Oh, and I'm sorry I didn't get to answer the questions I got about France, but here is a quick text that should answer most of them:

France is ok. The girls are ok, and the houses are ok. The houses are usually made out of brick. The school is horrible, but no, I didn't really struggle at school in the beginning, because I didn't understand anything, and I didn't make a huge effort to do so either, so I can't say it was. I actually struggled more as the months progressed. I had studied French for one year before I came here, but I barely knew anything at all, and I didn't understand a thing when I first came here. The age limit for buying alcohol in France is 18, but in bars and cafés they usually don't care at all. Oh, and I'm sorry "MYSTERY MEN", but I can't be your boyfriend, because I don't date men. If anyone wants to see the questions, they're here: http://wineandvuitton.blogg.no/1334361241_got_any_questions_abo.html#comment.

So this is only the beginning of a really, really long blog post, and there won't be any pictures, so if you're not up to the challenge, feel free to leave. If not, follow me as I go through my head to see what my year in France has really been like. I'll start with a recap of what I've done the last two months.

I finished school somewhere in early June. As I didn't pass the "bac", I didn't have to revise for three weeks before the actual tests at the end of june (From 18th-30th or something), like my hostbro did, pretty much non stop. He'll get his results tomorrow. He's probably getting quite good grades, unlike me. Remember how I told you that I had to get 10 in every class to get into the last year in Norway? Well, it turned out to be harder than I thought, though admittedly I never really engaged myself to get good grades. I got an average of 9,68 the last trimester, which obviously means I didn't get 10 in every class. Though most of the fault is mine, I have to say that my history teacher was a depressed alcoholic who didn't like me, and neither did my science teachers, though the latter case was probably because I only played battleship with Melvin or did nothing in all their classes. Anyway, certain things came up at the end of May, and I talked with my counselor as well, so I reckon I have a pretty good chance to get in anyway. 

So I finished somewhere in June, and the last day of school, we all went (And when I say all, I mean nearly the entire school) to the local castle after the classes were finished, and there we drank, smoked (Except for me), talked and just chilled out. Eventually it was time for goodbyes with the class, which did not end in tears, but was slightly sad anyway. The three-four weeks afterwards I've been visiting some friends, done my voluntary work, had an exchange student sleep over at my house, and I also hosted a goodbye-party the 29th, which, despite the not-so-perfect planning, went really, really well. From Tuesday to Thursday I slept over at Melvin's, and on Saturday I'm going to Paris with the other exchange students, to finally come home on Sunday.

Ok, so that was the recap. Now comes the part where I don't know what to say. I'll give it a try anyway.

 I think the most frequent question people ask me is: "Is France good?". No. France is not good. France is different. It's different just like people are different. Some things are bad, some things are good. Throughout this year, I've come to know many of them, both good and bad. Sometimes, I feel like the bad things outweigh the good things. Sometimes I ask myself whether is was the right choice to come here in the first place. So here's me, exposing the biggest lie in exchange student history: An exchange year will be the best year of your life. I'm sorry if I crack anyone's bubble of ignorance, because ignorance is bliss, apparently, but it's the ugly truth, and it hit me and the other exchange students right in the face as soon as we arrived. I remember hearing stories about people who literally got mistreated by their hostfamilies. But we all thought; "Nah, that won't happen to me. That's only one in a million". I'm not saying that I got mistreated by my hostfamily or anyone else, nor that the majority of us were mistreated, but some did, one of them being a very close friend of mine here in France. Well, honestly, the majority of exchange students don't have their exchange year turn out to a perfect year, the year of their life. I'm one of those. Amongst a ton of others. This wasn't my perfect year. It wasn't the year of my life. I dreamt of and expected going to cafés and eating croissants everyday, buying cheap fashionable clothes as it suited me, going to Paris as easily as visiting my neighbour's backyard and speaking French fluently after Christmas, without really realizing what a childish illusion and fantasy that was. Instead, I was met with the cold reality I should have expected if I didn't have my head up in the clouds. It was hard immersion into a quite different culture, and eventually I realized what I should have been smart enough to understand in first place; That all that I had dreamt of and expected was simply the deceiving tip of the iceberg. 

I look back on some of my blog posts, and except for a couple of vague sentences about it, I see no traces of the bad things or the miserable feelings I had here. I guess the reason I didn't write about this before was because I was trying so hard to make this the best year in my life, and I blamed myself for not making it good enough. I didn't want to admit to anyone, the least to myself that maybe I wasn't having the time of my life here. But was it actually my fault? I've thought this through, and I've concluded that it wasn't. I'm sure you all know a similar expression to "Life is what you make it" or "It's you who decide how good you're going to be", but it doesn't always work that way. I'm not putting the blame on anyone, really, I agree that the exchange or life or whatever it is, is what you make it, but I put up a good fight to do so, and it just wasn't the year I had dreamt of. Of course, there are things I regret. Firstly, I wish, despite all, that I had experienced France better, I guess that is partly my fault. I remember a few occasions where I probably could have said yes, but I said no. I say it's partly my fault, because you can't just go wherever you like whenever you like just like that. It doesn't work that way. Especially not when you find yourself in a different country, bound by the rules of a different family than your own, and above all the exchange organisation. Even the two times I went to see my halfbrother in Paris, it took a hell lot of organizing and asking for permission. I also regret not being such a good friend to certain people I wish I had been, one of them being my hostbrother. I admit, at first, I found him a bit of a jerk, but eventually I grew to like him quite a lot, and I discovered that we have quite a few things in common, and now I consider him one of my best friends here in France, and possibly amongst my friends in Norway as well. I know that I was a nuisance to him in the beginning, and that to him I was just the Norwegian guy his parents decided to host for a year who just hung out in his room all the time, but I hope, and think, that I eventually became a friend to him as well.

Are you still with me? Because if you've read this far, you have to keep on. There's more to it, and it's important.

So after all this ranting, you must think I really hated my year here, and that all I ever wanted to was to go back. Well, here comes the silver lining. I didn't. Despite a lot of bad things, I had a lot of good things happen as well. But that's not why I'm happy about this year. The reason I'm happy, though I don't feel like that adjective truly describes what I'm feeling, is because neither was it a good year, nor a bad year, but it was a good experience. It was a good experience for many reasons, I'm sure you can imagine some of them. First of all, it made me realize exactly who I am, where my home is, and most important of all, it made me rethink everything I knew and thought I knew until finally I gained an entirely new perspective on a lot of things. I know this experience changed me as a person as well, though sometimes I have a hard time seeing it. I know I became more outgoing and more willing to share personal thoughts and feelings I wouldn't have a year ago, I think this entire post is a proof of that.

Should I have picked something different? Could I have had a better experience elsewhere? Perhaps. I can't know. I simply know that every mistake, every miserable moment I had, every laugh and every moment of joy, anger, sadness and what not was a part of my experience here, and it changed me. I'll carry this experience on with me later in life for what it's worth, and I'll never regret coming here.

So I'm sitting here at 5AM in the morning, trying to put my thoughts down on paper (Or on screen, really), but my brain is clouding up, I guess the lack of sleep is catching up to me. I'm having a hard time describing exactly what I feel and what I think, but even if I was writing this whilst completely rested, I'd have a hard time saying what I really mean, because I really don't know precisely what I feel and think. Being in this situation is weird to me, because even though I know perfectly well how fast the time goes, especially when big events are coming up, I'm not really prepared for going home. That being said, I'm looking forward to go home, but I have deliberately evaded thinking about this, and therefore I haven't really processed what's going to happen. Anyway, I have to end this post now before I get lost in deep questions about the life, the universe and everything, because I'd hate coming to 42 after writing on this for several hours.

Therefore, what is left for me, is to thank everyone. Because after all, it's the people that make the place. I've already said goodbye to people I care about, and tomorrow (Technically, today), I will be saying goodbye to more of them, and though I'm probably going back from time to time, I don't know exactly when I'll see them. The experience wouldn't have been anything without the people I've met here. Thank you, Melvin, Maxime, Erwan, Maël, Guillaume, Manon, Karine, Laurent, Elise, Erin, and all the other exchange students and French friends I made here who made this experience unforgettable. 

A week in Paris can change you

Hello everyone!

I'm back from Paris, and the Easter holiday is almost over. It passed disappointingly fast, as it usually does when you do fun stuff. That's a good thing though, it means I profited from the holidays. On the downside, I haven't done any homework, and next week I'm probably getting back all the tests which I inevitably failed before the holidays.

This is me casually posing in front of the Eiffel tower. Who said I wouldn't change during my exchange year?

 

Ok, let me explain. I took like 300 photos from Paris, because we went to Montmartre, Versailles castle, Louvre and Eiffel tower. You might not know these places, but a quick google search will give you 10 times better photos than I can, so instead I'm uploading this photo. I bought all of it with my sister in law on tuesday, and wednesday we went to the Eiffel tower to take photos of the French stereotype.

It was really nice to see my half-bro and his wife again, and their kids aswell, though I didn't get a lot of sleep. We ate food, baked cookies, went places, saw movies and did other stuff, and it was five very enjoyable days.

I bought this bouquet for 6,50?. Three times cheaper and three times prettier than the last bouquet I bought

 

I came home thursday, and yesterday I had a costume party. I went with the same costume from Paris, and my hostbro went as the Norwegian stereotype. So that's basically my Easter holiday. Oh, and a quick announcement: I'll answer the questions either tomorrow or next week. In the meantime, feel free to pose more questions about France in the previous post.

Goodnight!

Got any questions about France?

Hello. I'm sorry, I didn't blog - I was absent the entire weekend, and from monday-thursday Elise (The American) slept over at my house. Just to clear up a bit; Elise moved to a family in southern France because her hostfamily was bad, so she came back to visit Erin for a week, but Erin had to go away from monday-thursday, so Elise stayed here for a couple of days. I'd upload a bunch of "funny" webcam photos we took to show you guys how much fun we obviously had, but we didn't take any, so I'm not uploading them. I went to visit Erin and Elise (Because Elise sleeps there now) today though, and we took a bunch of "funny" webcam photos, I might upload some of those later. Did I tell you we're on Easter holiday by the way? I might have forgot. Anyway, we have, and this was the first week. Tomorrow I'm going to visit my half-brother in Paris, I'm very excited, though I have to get up at 5:30 tomorrow. Ironically I'm sitting here at 1:30 writing this.

Right, so this became a very messy post, I honestly can't be bothered to reread it, I'm just posting this so you know I'm not dead yet. If you made it this far, dear reader, it means that you have a quality which you don't find in a lot of teenagers today; Patience. Which implies that either you possess a rare quality, or you're not a teenager at all. Good job anyway.

Oh, by the way: ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT FRANCE?

I've got a few questions about France recently, so I figured I'd do a proper post about it soon... So if anyone has any questions about France, my experience here or just me, now is the time to ask them. Ask me on this post, facebook, or wherever else you want to stalk me, and I'll try and answer most of them probably next week or the week after that.

French traditions are disgusting

I'm excused for not blogging. I was absent pretty much the whole weekend, and when I tried to log on to post on Sunday, the blog page wouldn't let me in. 

Anyway - I had an eventful weekend. It all started on friday, when a local tradition, called the "Père-cent" found place in Saumur, where I go to school. This is an event which happens in Saumur every year 100 days before the bacs (The final exams)

This is Saumur. A not so pretty photo of a not so pretty street in Saumur, but believe me when I say I didn't have time to line up the perfect photos that day.

 

So here's exactly what happens the 100th day before the bac: Hundreds of last year high school put on costumes, buy tons of eggs, flour, vinegar, shaving cream, confetti, ketchup, fishbrine, and other sticky, greasy and smelly household items... And then they all go out in the streets and throw it on all the first and second year students.

I think this might be the first photo of Melvin on the blog, come to think of it. He's the guy with the converse t-shirt

 

My hostbro is in términale (Last year), so he was doing it aswell. He's from a different school in Saumur, so the schools fought eachother several times. His school usually doesn't do it though, because it's a private school, so it was basically him and 15 other people or so against hundreds from my school. Most of them were dressed up as nonnes, as you can see. My hostbro is the one with the vinegar bottle in the hand.

Naturally, my hostbro and a few of his friends came for me when they saw me, for the very reason that I'm his hostbro, but I'm proud to say I managed to outrun them all... Which counted for pretty much every términal student me and Melvin encountered, except for the girls in the car driving around and spraying ketchup at everyone.

So aside from the ketchup, I managed to avoid everything else. The marking I actually took voluntarily - Everyone looks good with a mustache and a pair of green glasses


Can you image an entire town where everything is covered in flour and eggs with streets being completely white with cracked eggs everywhere? Ok, that's an exaggeration, but this wasn't even the worst street

 

Don't get me wrong though, I found this extremely cool. I'm hoping to come back on holiday here next year to do the same thing. I just hope the police won't be as boring as they were this year - They were confiscating everything they could get their hands on. According to Melvin, it was at least 5 times worse the year before, because the police didn't directly interfere.

Anyway, changing subject and quickly summarizing the rest of my week-end: I had a party later on friday, then I was hangover for the AFS-weekend we had saturday to sunday. We played paintball/archery or whatever on saturday with AFS, which was pretty chool, though we only had 100 balls, which I honestly think was pretty cheap of AFS.

So that's the weekend! Seeing as I should have been talking about this in the weekend but I do it now instead, I'll write about this week next weekend instead, or the post will be even longer than it already is. Goodnight! 

Another bad post

Yeah I know... I'm getting superslacky. To be fair, I'm putting most of the time I'm not blogging into doing productive stuff, like working on my tan before the summer sets in, or studying Harry Potter. Sometimes I even do both at once - I feel like I'm finally living up to my New Year's Resolution about working harder.

In all seriousness though, I have been doing ACTUAL work. It's not a whole lot, but it's a progress. I know this is all I seem to rant about lately, but getting into last year in Norway is very important to me.

So anyway, tomorrow I have the remaining two out of the four tests we have this week (Yes, four tests in a week), and next week I have another two. Then it's finally Easter holidays afterwards. THIS friday, however, we have something super-interesting coming up, and honestly I doubt I can get any photos because I'll probably be running for my life the entire day. Save your curiosity though, because I'll write about it this weekend instead - I'm actually going to bed now...

But sorry for slacking everyone, but I know all my millions of readers are super-interested in my life here, so I'll do my best to keep the blog alive. I've decided to take more photos aswell now that I think of it - It'll make the blog more colourful aswell. Anyway, good night! Wall of text complete.

A bad post

Aujourd'hui I wanted to write "Today" in a different language. I just did so I guess I don't have anything to write about anymore. I'll make a better one this weekend, I promise.

On a serious note however, I actually forgot to blog today, because Erin came over after school, but then I didn't, hence why I'm writing now.

I was so deprived of pictures that I had to take this random one


We had but one class today, so I went from school from 8-9. Such a waste of time. If it wasn't for the fact that I had important papers to give to the office or whatever, I'd stay home. Erin and me were gonna meet up Mateus (Exchange student) to explore Longué later that day aswell, but he missed his train, so Erin came to me instead.

Oh, and that presentation I was talking about on Sunday... I did it so well. Without revising. At all. I'm probably going to get a better grade than both Melvin and Maxime. Working is not over yet though, we have like 6 or 7 tests in the last two weeks before the holidays... So I'm off now.

(Bad excuse for finishing blog post successful)

 

- Chris

My projects

Hello!

Today I thought I'd talk about the morale and the message of the film "Project X", and what it means in this film.
But then I remembered that there's no morale or message in the film at all.

 

I went to see this film with my hostbro and a few other people. I also met an American girl who was staying with one of Guillaume's friends for a week, and she was cool. Anyway, back to the movie. Firstly, I liked it. It's a movie you see once with your friends to have a good time, but except for that it's nothing.

Still, I'm amazed by how you can make a film about such an insignificant plot with no meaning or message whatsoever and make it last for stunningly 90 minutes. Can you imagine?

Apparently it has bad influence on people.  I can see why


So that's probably the coolest thing I did since wednesday. Other than that, I've actually worked. I remember writing on the blog that I'd begin working the second trimester... Well, that was a lie it seems, because I got pretty bad grades the second one. I haven't actually seem them yet, but I have a strong I'm right

BUT! This trimester is the one that actually counts. I've confirmed it with my counselor, so I'm going to work so I can get directly into my last year at high school (Or whatever it is in English) when I come back to Norway. I'm not sure if I've given a reason why this is so important to me... Well, here's why:

Funny how much it resembles Project X

 

Oh, I think I forgot to talk about my presentation of Norwegian culture... But I showed this video, amongst other things, and all the French students were awestruck by its awesomeness. I'll be doing this in 2013, IF I get good enough grades this year, so that is my long-term project right now. Starting with the 20 minute presentation I have on monday about the philosophical meaning of several texts I haven't read.

 

- Chris

What I've been doing

Hello, everyone! I haven't blogged for a while now, more precisely more than a month, and I'm sorry about that. I took a little unintentional break, partly because I was lazy and partly because it's been a hectic month. But, to the pleasure of all my 10 000 readers, I'm back now, and I'll try and fall back to my normal rhytm starting from today!

It was either this or a picture of Terminator

 

Ok, so I'm going to try and sum up my last month as detailed as possible without boring you with all the details. I feel like that's conflicting ideas, but anyway, here goes:

In early February I had holidays, but I didn't go to Paris to see my half-bro, they were busy with moving, which is totally understandable. Instead, I had a sleepover at Erin's with her and Emma, I went to a few of parties, and I had a volleyball "stage". This meant 12 hours of training (Minus lunch) for two days in a row with a professional who had come to tell us exactly why we suck. He was really nice actually. My feet still hurt though, two weeks afterwards.

Picture unrelated. We ate pancakes during the holidays aswell.

 

So the tuesday two weeks after the holidays was probably the most important day I've had for my entire life (Without thinking that through thouroughly): It was my 18th birthday.

Happy 18th birthday, Christoffer!

 

I have to say, turning 18 here didn't change a whole lot. I'm not allowed to drive here in any circumstances, and I could already buy alcohol (Not legally), because it's France. Nevertheless, I had a good birthday, I think, except that I fell asleep on the bus after school and woke up in the next town so my hostdad had to pick me up.

I got a few presents and cards, principally from my family, Erin, Elise (Another American exchange student) and Melvin, which I was really happy about, and I also got my new credit card, seeing as the last one expired when I turned 18. From my hostfamily, I got a huge meal on a restaurant last sunday, hence why I didn't blog that weekend, actually, because I was so stuffed for the entire day that I couldn't be bothered to do anything.

From Erin (left) and Elise


Only one of the dishes

 

Oh, and I had that presentation about Norwegian culture last thursday aswell, and I think it went really well, despite the fact that I had to sit up until 4 AM to finish it. That's actually not my fault, because I spent nearly the entire weekend at an AFS-meeting. I can't believe the first AFS-weekend in over three months fell on the most inconvenient time ever. It was nice though, we met the new exchange students who came in late January who are staying for 3 or 5 months. 

Anyway, I think that sums up most of the major events... I'd write another 10 paragraphs, because I have a lot on my mind, but that would boring, and also I have a test tomorrow so I need to revise, so I'll end it here. Good night!

 

- Chris

Thank you for your patience!

Hello everyone! Sorry I haven't blogged for nearly three weeks! I'll tell you all about it later! I haven't got time for a proper post now, and neither on wednesday because I have a HUGE presentation about the culture of Norway for ONE hour or more in French, and I haven't even started. I might have time for a quick post on wednesday, but either way I'll explain everything the next weekend if nothing comes up!



I know I have like thousands of readers, so I'm sorry that I haven't blogged, but thank you for your patience and I promise I'll make a big post next weekend unless I'm not at home!

 

- Chris

 

Status update

Today I have no idea about what to write. There are a lot of things I want to write about, but today I just don't feel like it. I'm sick, for some reason, I guess that contributes to my lack of interest in doing anything lately. So seeing as I don't want to write about anything important, here's a small status update:

Nice picture

 

- Buses have been officially out since monday, so I haven't been to school all week
- Though school buses are out, there is still a bus going 07:30, which I might take tomorrow and friday
- The winter holidays begin in two days, and last for two weeks, and I haven't got a single thing to do
- The second trimester is over, and I'm afraid I'll get a really bad average
- I have received a new bed sets, which is prettier than my previous
- I'm so lazy that I can't even be bothered to write full sentences

Well that's all I can think of. I'll try and write a more interesting post during the weekend. Good night!

Les mer i arkivet » July 2012 » April 2012 » March 2012
Chris

Chris

19, Ringerike

My name is Christoffer, I'm a 18 year old student from Norway, and this blog is about the thoughts and experiences I made as an exchange student in France 2011-2012. The blog will stay as an archive for everyone who wants to read it, but it will no longer be updated.

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