Thursday, March 8, 2012

Orientation #2

A few days ago, it was the weekend-long Second Orientation held at a Calgary conference hotel.  I got to meet all the Outbounds again, and it was more exciting because we all knew each others' host countries, and we were able to discuss further about the difficult, yet hilarious progress of learning our country's new culture and language.  (Did I mention that my younger sister and I tried to watch Harry Potter in French recently?  We gave up half-way and watched the rest in English though because they talked so quickly!)

My table with Outbounds, Inbounds and Rotex during the banquet.
There were also the Inbounds (students currently in exchange from outside of Canada), Rotex's (former exchange students who returned July 2011), senior Rotex's (former exchange students who returned longer before and are still highly involved with Rotary), Rotarians, counsellors, parents; this was no small event!  Every corner of the conference room during the first night astonishingly filled with rich diversity, and I cannot explain in words how unique it was to see so many people from all over the world brought into one place.

With some European Inbounds

This weekend basically covered most of the important information about the exchange.  From foreign insurance information to homesickness to culture shock, we learnt lots of essential information that will help us Outbounds survive our year.  Instead of Rotarians lecturing us all day long, there were also the Rotexs and senior Rotexs who spoke to us from their own experiences which were very intriguing.  Some were so hilarious that made me laugh so much that I almost cried, and some were so heart-breaking, as I remember one Rotex explaining her farewell to her new friends, families and the country.

Singing with much love

I stayed in a room with an inbound from France, a Rotex who went to France and another who went to Brazil.  They were super friendly and awesome, and were glad to answer my numerous questions.  One of the cool facts I learnt over this weekend was that the number of the French "cheek-to-cheek" kisses (known as bisous) you do per greeting differ regionally in France (from 1 to 4 I think)!  As a North American, I can't even picture myself doing the bisous!  Mon dieu! 

Holding the flag of France with Bonnie (Inbound from France) and Marissa (Rotex who went to France)
Throughout the weekend, there was also a karaoke night and a formal banquet (followed by a dance) which were the perfect opportunities to make new long-lasting friendships.  It truly felt magical because the experienced people here understood the difficulty of immersing into a foreign country as well as the feeling of accomplishment that you gain by absorbing the amazing positive outcome you someday experience.

Now there is 5 more months left to learn French, fill my visa application, get Canadian souvenirs... plus there's school!  Hip hip hurray!  I love when life is so busy.

A bientôt,


ps: I have a goal to dream in French someday!


  1. I am so glad you are recounting all your experiences leading up to your year abroad. You will look back at this with fondness in the future. Sari, you are a very good writer....well done! Janet (Outbound Counsellor)

    1. Wow, it is August now, and I'm looking back at this already feeling good (and quite amazed actually) of how much stuff has been done so far! Thank you Janet!