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.