Saturday, July 28, 2012

One Month Left

Wow.  Time has gone by too quickly.  I still remember back in October thinking with Amelia that the time we start planning about our farewell parties, souvenirs for our host families, or deciding what to take with us wouldn't approach in a million light years.  Back then, we both still thought this is just a dream; a life-time experience that is too good to be true.  Well here we are now.  The end of July.  For me, I have exactly one month left... and IT'S SCARING ME LIKE CRAZY!!!  Right now actually, I am taking a grade 12 math course in summer school which is keeping me super busy.   At least when I come back, I won't have to do it :)

Yes,  it's going to be an extremely amazing journey, but no one said it's going to be an easy one.  It especially strikes me when I hear stories of struggle from many current exchangers and even Rotexs who continue to express how difficult the first few months were.  And this is why instead of being all giddy and excited, I am rather nervous for my year abroad.  Nervous of being who I am, and how people there will think of me.  I'm also worried of how my family and friends here at home will think of the new me when I come back to Canada.  But do not fret dear reader.  After all, this IS the emotional ups and downs of a pre-exchanger.

Fortunately, I have been getting tremendous support from a Rotex who went to France two years ago from our district.  It has been so helpful to contact someone like her because she has already experienced her exchange year and has settled back into our home country, having the time to healthily balance between her new and old personality.  She told me that making friends is not easy as you think it may be because you are not accustomed to the country's language, culture and trend.  However, through many weeks and perhaps months of hard work of learning their language, gaining respect from various people and exemplifying yourself as a good Canadian, it will all pay off.  She even shared her story of how she took children's books to school to read, resulting positively that many native French students have appreciated her great effort.

Oh, and speaking of children's books, I know that I will have host-siblings!!!  My first host family is a fairly young family of a host father who is a Rotarian, a host mother who is an English teacher (how awesome is that?!), a 6 year old host brother and 1 year old host sister.  I really look forward to stay with them for the first few months.  I hope that my French will improve because sadly at the moment, it is 'orrible!  (Noticed the silent 'h'?) 

I never knew or truly understood that even becoming an exchange student already changes who you are and how you see the world.  Today when I was watching the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Summer Olympics (specifically when the separate nation-states emerged into the stadium in gleaming smiles), my appreciation of witnessing 204 countries  all celebrating together has soared.  I never thought of it, but millions of people across the world were watching this exact same event including myself, which is a cool feeling once you realize it.

Before I finish, I have two more news: a few days ago, I sent my visa to my travel agent who then will send it to the Vancouver consulate, so fingers crossed!  (This year as an experiment, the consulate does not require physical appearances in Vancouver!)  Plus yesterday, my business cards finally came!!!  Rotary Youth Exchange students receive these prior to their exchange to give to other exchangers, Rotary members, family and friends.  I love how this program has a touch of professional style haha!   (It is traditional too!)

My first ever business cards!!!
Bonne Nuit!

Friday, July 13, 2012

BCG & More

My mom contacted our district's travel agent to ask if she has to write the BCG immunization parental consent (for the visa application) in French.  It turns out that she doesn't have to, so thank goodness because neither of us can barely write any French at the moment. 

Speaking of the immunization, (and before I explode of too much happiness contained inside of me for a separate reason), I have to get a BCG shot, Bacillus Calmette–Guérin, when I settle in France.  (Frenchy name?  Yes, it was created by a French bacteriologist named Albert Calmette and veterinarian named Camille Guérin.)  According to the French law, it is forbidden for students without the immunization to attend school in France! 

Needles are not my friends.  I get very tense in the arm even when the needle does not touch me yet!  When I first found out that I must take this immunization, I told myself to chill out and reassure that it will be just a teensy weensy prick ..... until I saw this on the internet:

BCG Immunization Stamp

I almost screamed in terror.  Look!  9 pricks?!  OUCH!

But there is good news!  Apparently, France only uses one needle for it, unlike Japan who continues to use the one in the picture. (Both of my parents got them in Japan.  The scar is permanent!)  At least a single painful needle will be worth the foreign experience!

Back to the story.  Not only that I found out more information on how to complete my visa application, but on a much, much happier note.  I found out where I will live in France since the travel agent received my guarantee form! 

I am going to a French village called Louhans, populated by around 6500 people.  It is located in between Dijon and Lyon, and just over 100km away from Geneva, Switzerland, and 300km from Paris!  More specifically, it belongs in the Saone & Loire area of the Burgundian region.

Location of Louhans, France

It is a petit village known for their Monday morning Bresse Poutry Market, the pretty rivière Seille and the antique buildings including their 157 Arcades that stretches across La Grande Rue.

I am smiling so much that my cheeks hurt!

This photo is their main street that apparently existed since the 11th century!
A typical little French ville ♥ Super excité!

Au revoir pour le moment,

Monday, July 2, 2012

58 Days Left

Mon. Dieu.

58 days left. Only fifty-eight!!!

On June 25th, all of the France inbound students including myself got the same news that we will arrive to their airports on August 28th, 2012.  It will be the day I will meet my first host-family who will pick me up there!  (Throughout the year, I will stay with approximately 3-4 host-families.)  I am very excited to meet them, my Rotary host-club and district!

My guarantee form (which consists of all of the information about my club, families, school etc.) has not arrived yet which worries me so much because it delays my visa application that is CRUCIALLY essential to buy my airplane ticket! 

À plus tard!

ps: Merci, merci, merci, to all the people who take their time to read my blog! I really appreciate your support and I'm glad to say that my blog has reached over 500 views! Merci beaucoup!