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To an End or a New Beginning.

"How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand that there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend... each of us must come and go..."
                                    -- Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)

  So much has come, so much has gone, and I find it hard to believe that this is the end. It's been almost 5 months since I've come to France-- 5 months since I left home to live in another country, without my parents, sibling, relatives or friends. It seems, though, like only yesterday I was wandering around the airport in Toronto waiting for my plane, wondering how on earth I'd survive.

  In fact, I have no idea how I have. Back in January, right before I caught my plane, I was hit by a relisation: this is actually happening. When I walked through security, leaving my dad on the other side, I was suddenly victim to the realisation that my trip wasn't a dream. Seeing my daddy wave goodbye from the other side of the checkpoint had me shaking all over-- I wouldn't be seeing him for five more months. I wouldn't be seeing him, or anyone I knew from Canada, until June. That had me mindfreaking.

  After sitting down for a few minutes, I recovered and came to grips with the fact that this was no longer just words. For so long I'd been saying, "I'm going to France for a semester in January!", but until that point it had kind of remained a statement. While I was sitting in the Pearson, it suddenly started to piece together.

  Even now as I look back on this adventure, it's been so surreal I'm having a hard time believing it's actually happened. The country is so beautiful, the culture is incredible and the people are very nice (but there are a few exceptions, and those are notable); I'm definitely not going to forget this trip, this journey, no matter what. It's been so changing, so inspiring and so motivating, I can't put it into words.

  I honestly have no idea what's going to happen to me when I get back... I mean, I'll go back to school, I'll get a job, I'll hang out with friends and see my family again, but... I know I've changed, and things will be different. The changes have been little, but in big ways, and I'm not entirely sure what they are, but I know they're there. I suppose getting back means I get to find out.

  So this end of an adventure, it's not really an end, then. As all cliches go, it's just a new beginning. I certainly hope, though, there are no more predictabilities than that.

La Fierté.

Look at all those people up there. Just take a step back, and look at them all. Look hard, look well. See anything odd about them, or about the picture?Well, other than the oddly-dressed dudes in the truck, it's pretty well just like every other march or protest or support that's ever happened in France, right?


  Bordeaux Gay Pride. I'm going to say it right now: Best. Thing. Ever.

"Against racism, (capitalist) employers, sexism, state boundaries: the same fight."

  That is what sets it apart from every other protest or support march in the history of ever. It is absolutely amazingly indescribable. And that is why it is different.

All those people back there were marching for gay-lesbian-trans rights-- in France. I've been told it's a silly notion now, because it's the modern world and they're already accepted as people with rights, but there are still problems that tend to be pushed to the side: this is what they were marching for today.... and, you know, to have an excuse to wear rainbow stuff.

:Equality has no sexuality."

In France, homosexuals can't be married, though they can be entitled to all the legal benefits of marriage through the signing of a certain document... but they're not married. Furthermore, because they aren't married by the church, they're forbidden from adopting children, something that several people in the crowd that day were hoping to change. I hope that law changes, too-- the people I ran into looking to adopt (albiet the funky wig and hat) seemed like pretty awesome people.

In any case, as my friend Flo said, "cosplay is obligatory" when you go to Gay Pride. I should have listened... I wore a rainbow(ish) scarf, if that counts? And rainbow shoe-laces, but they were kind of covered up by my hobo-pants.


I wasn't alone in my experience of French manifestations: I went  to the event with
Jade, another exchange student here, from Australia. Basically this awesome-sauce individual that loves retro shopping, photography and cinematics, Asian food (she's kind of Asian, so... duh?) and,of course, equal rights for all. Together we danced in the streets, sang to Lady GaGa remixes and went on a (kind of unsuccessful) journey to find a rainbow flag to take home.

Seriously, why can't home be this damn awesome?

Check out this really shitty video of the really awesome event, and side with me: French support-protest marches are the best thing since sliced bread.

How Much So.


  TGIF. Don't know if they have that in France, but nonetheless I'm saying it. TGIF. After surviving Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, Friday is a well-received notion.

10 AM : (Double) French Literature

Oh God, am I happy classes start at 10 on Friday for me. Other grades, or even other classes within my grade, have their lessons starting at 8AM or 9AM on Friday, but not moi. 10 AM. Yay!

In this first hour, I essentially wrote a letter to my
dearest Mommy, blowing off some steam in regards to everything. How I wish I'd done this or that, or how maybe this should have been done instead of that. Maybe I should have made more of an effort here, maybe it wasn't my fault there... you know, things like that. The emotions you experience whilst in a foreign country and away from everything you know... stuff I've kind of been bottling for a while. So I got it out in the first hour.

The second hour had me teary-eyed; and I'm not one for tears now, even though I should be, what, being away from home and all. Anyway, the French teacher came up to my desk and set something on it.

"Shinae,"--rendered "Shine-ie" instead of "Shin-ay" in her accent--"you do enjoy reading in French, do you not?" She asked me, smiling.
I nodded and waved my Phantom of the Opera book at her. "Yes, yes, of course! I love reading a lot!"
She pushed the thing she'd set on my desk towards me. "I have a gift for you, then. I hope you enjoy it!"

At which point my jaw fell open and I looked from the book to her, her to the book. A brand-new, student study-copy of Madame Bovary, a French classic! I was so amazed and touched by it that I nearly cried. It was the first and only gift I'd received since coming here, moreover from a teacher that I thought didn't care that I existed. But... she's so sweet! I should have taken a hint when she assigned an illustration project to the class, but this-- I'm still speechless over it!

12 noon : Lunch

Whipped potatoes, fish (?), yogurt, biscuits, salad and a veggie tart. Oh, and a fruit. Anyway.

My friend Flo doesn't eat at the cantine at noon, so when she stays at the school for lunch instead of going home, we bring some of our lunch to her. Namely, Friday: the bread, yogurt and the biscuits, as well as the veggie tart. Some days we grab fruits for her as well, but that's only when the school allows us to take more than one fruit... this week, they've only been allowing one fruit per student. Sadness.

In any case, my plate is the first one. I grabbed the tart and biscuits for Flo, and ended up eating the salad, yogurt, banana, only half of the whipped potatoes and not even a quarter of that... fish? I'm not sure what it was, or even why I took it. It was kind of... soggy. All apologies for that mental image; I suppose it's better than Thursday's. I still lost my appetite after eating what I had of the fish... euh...

1 PM : Free period

It was during this time we practiced "la flemme", or being really, really lazy. We walked to a park and lay in the grass for the hour, soaking up the sun. And when the hour of lying in silence was over, none of my friends wanted to go to class. I just wanted to go because I'd gotten sick of doing nothing... really. It gets kind of annoying having free periods. Even though you're outside and with your friends, you really just sit around and do nothing. I mean, I'm not sure if it's France in general, but... my friends don't do a lot of talking with me during the breaks. Sometimes between themselves when they do talk, but mostly we sleep or stare at walls during free periods. No joke.

2PM : French Literature

Did I ever mention that one Friday, my French Literature teacher was sick? Yes, she was. It was a good day; nearly no classes at all (we have English at 1PM every two weeks, and that day was one of them, but that still only leaves one hour of classes for me). Three hours of French every other Friday, and that's it. For me, at least-- my friends take German classes, so they have another class at 3, but... since I no spetchen ze Deutch, I can go home.

Try to read what's on the board. I dare you.

3 PM : Free period / My dismissal

I believe I mentioned the other day that I had stopped drawing "X"s on my hands? Well, ironically enough, someone decided that it was a great idea to start drawing them again. So yes-- the four of us walked around with "X"s drawn on our hands in eyeliner, though only one of them--me besides--is actually Straight-Edge. The other two are social drinkers: Flo and My. But even still, I was surprised that they remembered that I used to wear "X"s on my hands when I first came, and what they meant.

Fridays are just full of surprises!

  Just because my mother probably wants to see what I wore to the ball that night. I wore it with high heels-- I can no longer feel my feet. It's a good kind of hurt.


  Ah... nothing witty to put here today?

  Oh, let's just get on with it:


9 AM : History- Geography

Still covering WWII, and again the teacher was elated when talking about the French negotiating with the Americans during the war and forcing them to fly their bombing planes lower. Essentially, she said "yes, we told the Americans 'get the Nazis out, bomb around our cities, but bloody Hell stop killing our citizens!' and they were forced to fly their planes lower, because before they weren't willing to take any risks so they flew at high-altitudes. But we showed them!"

Did I mention she's one of my favourite teachers here? (Though she has pretty bad writing...)

Moreover, I wrote a Geography test last week and got it back today-- French tests are different from Canadian tests in the sense that if it can be evaluated by writing an essay, it will be evaluated by writing an essay. You're given a subject and must pose the problematic yourself. My subject was "Coastlines: Spaces to protect (in France)". I essentially didn't have to think about the problematic because the subject spoke for itself-- "how are the French coastlines threatened by human activity?" ended up being what I wrote about. For two hours...

And I ran out of time, so for a conclusion, I put: "Some sort of conclusion here... I don't have time! Imagine it, though... it's incredible, I swear."  She must have imagined the very conclusion I was going to write, for I got a 9/20!

Now, hang on a minute, right? That doesn't sound like much, but the average mark in France is 11/20, and the class average for the test was around 7/20. I will now straighten my shoulders and proudly proclaim that French is my second language, and I didn't write a conclusion, but I still got a better mark than my friendlies. And in Canada, I would have failed, but in France you fail if your mark is under 5. Because getting 15/20 or more on anything doesn't happen. Period.

10 AM : Free period

Here is the time where I explain the complicated part of the week. Yes, in a free period, life is complicated; paradoxes galore, isn't that enough proof?

The class is divided into two groups for certain classes, based on last name. The first group is people whose last names run from A to L, and the second is last names M through Z. Maybe numerics, but I don't think we have any of those. Anyway. All my friends have last names starting with M through Z, and I have a last name that starts with H. So we're in different groups.

On Thursdays, groups come into play. Because for some reason, the teachers decided they wanted to teach the class at two seperate times, even though they'll be doing the exact same thing. I don't follow, but I also don't mind.

In any case, at 10 AM my friends have class, and I don't. I have class at 1PM instead, and they don't. Moreover, at 11AM there's a class called Éducation Civique-Jurdique-Social which is only once every two weeks... and is taught in groups. So this week I don't have it, but my friends do. In any case, it is a class that, as my host brother puts it, "serves to do absolutely nothing." Personally, I like it... we're learning about Geo-Political relations, something that evidently interests me. Not so for everyone else, but hey. I'm used to being the oddball.

But when I'm not obsessing over how much I love the class, I go home for the two hours I have nothing. I usually bake, read or listen to music. Sometimes I dance around the kitchen. And you will now pretend that you didn't read that last sentence.


12 noon: Lunch

As my friendly puts it, this meal--which was supposed to be spaghetti à la bolognaise--" looks and tastes like the kibbles you feed your dog, soaked in water and mixed with compost. Then fed to your dog and he puked it all up." It looks alright in the pictures, but... when you put it in your mouth and/or swish it around in your spaghetti, it... well, I'll just not talk about it.

Can you guess which plate is mine?

Yes, that's right: the one with the avocado! You're learning fast!

After lunch we chilled in the foyer some... and Flo got a hold of my camera. Not that I mind being in a few photos, though...

You'll also notice that I no longer wear the "X"s on my hand that I did back in Canada... that's because in Bordeaux, the "X" is a symbol of a local nightclub, which... kind of portrays the opposite meaning of what I want it to. So I just don't wear them. BUT I'll start again once I leave, so my apologies to my mother if I got her hopes up.

1 PM : English

And woe, woe is me, for I was all alone. But personally, I'd rather be in the class than in the foyer, simply because we don't really do anything in the foyer. I mean, we don't do anything in class anyway, but I'd like to be able to say I at least tried to do something. Or, you know, watched others work while I muddled over how much my English has been dying. This entry is probably a good testimony. 

3 PM : Maths

And there is that teacher I told you about, thinking about... I'm not really sure. Probably ways to scare people. He doesn't look like much, but when he gets angry, he gets angry. Maybe even with a capital A; I mean, he totally flips out. And then you try and say "But I was only--" and he cuts you off with some senseless rambling, which sounds like the rest of the lesson so you automatically tune it out. He also likes moving around a lot-- I was hoping to draw him, because he won't let me take photos in his class (and again, an example of when he spazzed; this photo was snapped after the bell had rung), but he moves too much to do that. So I just snuck a picture instead.

  Tonight (Friday) there's a "formal" ball at my school to celebrate the end of the year... I'm really nervous, but I'm going anyway and hoping for the best. Seeing as I fail at walking in heels and dancing, this should be a great combo. Wish me luck!


Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.... three down, two to go.

Get up, go for a run, have shower, drag my sorry self to school. Yes, that is how my Wednesdays begin. Very, very tastefully.

Although, admittedly the walk to school and the run aren't that bad... I get to see the beautiful city, even if it does mean that I'm en route to a few hours of learning... or daydreams?

9 AM : (Double) French Literature

On this particular day, the class had to write an in-class essay (that's the chosen form of evaluation for almost every subject outside of Maths; evaluations are always on 20) that I got out of writing, so... I read once again for 2 hours. Phantom of the Opera, baby.

11 AM : History-Geography

I'd love to say what we did in this class today, and that it was all swell and very interesting, but the teacher wasn't there, so... early lunch break!

Furthermore, high schools in France get Wednesday afternoons off, so really I was out of school for the day. Boo-yeah, two hours of school (that consisted of me smiling evilly as I read about incidents in the Paris Opera House and envisioned the Gerard Butler incarnation of the Phantom) and then home! Wait, no... I have something to add, don't I?


Oh, yeaaaaaah. The "cantine". I don't eat at it on Wednesdays, but I'll talk about it today anyway.

Essentially you start by putting your cantine card against that machine in the first picture, which lets you grab a tray. You take your tray to the island in the middle... usually it's loaded with appetizers: cucumbers, avocadoes, white asparagus, tomatoes, sometimes couscous or seafood. You can only take one appetizer, though, and they come on the tiny, tiny plates-- that way, there's enough for everyone.

After you grab your appetizer, you advance to the right and pick out your dessert... odd order, but no one really cares. Usually you have a choice between yogurt, an ice cream bar or some sort of pastry, but it really varies day to day. On Monday we had the choice between five types of pastry, on Tuesday it was between just strawberries and peaches... they're never consistent in the amount or type.

Once you've picked out your dessert, slide along to the left of the island and put your tray down.

Weee! Slide it along until you reach where the cafeteria cooks are, and let them serve you two honking ladles of whatever they'ev concocted... and don't let them catch you with an extra appetizer or dessert! It could mean your untimely death. And then that food, well... your friends will eat it in your place. You don't want that, now, do you?

After sliding along and taking your potentially lethal meal, grab some baguette slices from the bin and grab a seat with your friends! Enjoy your meal, if possible, whilst talking in a very loud voice and making lots of hand gestures. That's essentially how it's done in France... not too different from back home, really.

Once you're done eating, grab your dray and dash to the exit-- don't let them see you've stashed an extra dessert under your jacket! After the breakaway, place your tray on the conveyor to be swept away and cleaned... and toss your non-organic garbage in the cans below, to make like easier for the workers. They did make the meal (?), after all.

You can stop reading here if you're not interested in what I do Wednesday afternoons when I'm done school. <3

  Because, for some odd reason, my French friends don't hang out Wednesday afternoons (or maybe they do without me?), I usually go home and eat lunch. And on this particular Wednesday, guess what arrived? A package!

From my one and only Santos. How I love her! Though the tape... I could do without that. Or at least half of it, because it was Canada flag tape.


I loved what was inside almost as much as I love her. Like, really-- a hand-written letter decorated in kick-ass doodles, a drawing of a Pepsi can (done over Skype two months ago... I mentioned in passing I wanted it and she remembered!) along with Bubble Tea. Strawberry Bubble Tea-- Hell yes! I've been wanting some for a fair while now, and... did I mention I love her? We're married, too, though I'm not sure if I'm the wife or the husband... identity crisis?


After that, I went to Ste-Catherine's Street to do a little shopping. There's a year-end ball this Friday, and since I'm kind of forcing myself to go (I'm secretly really excited for it, though, even though I hate dances of any kind) I have to find a dress. So the first place I go is, evidently, the best place: Mesopotamia, an alternative clothing shop. Not to mention Wap Doo Wap, another similar store with artisan-inspired clothes. No Tripp pants here, folks-- all designed by artisans, just the way I like it. Makes things less... mass-produced? Capitalistic? Uniform? I don't know, but that probably isn't it; it's a secret that even I don't know. There's more detail in the clothes, that's for sure; more time put into designing them and putting them together... it must makes them more desirable in general. So charming, I'm going to miss the place and the clothes when I leave!

I wanted the pony dress. The one with the neon ponies. It didn't fit. I did manage to fit into an XS, though--first time in my life, usually I'm an L--before I decided that it would still be too loose across the middle and too tight across the chest. Such is my life; I'll just pull something out of my closet to wear on Friday. If I put on a pair of tights and heels, it'll look nice, right?

And then... at about 4PM I realised I hadn't had lunch, and decided to indulge in an apple tart. Best. Tart. Ever. I am so getting another one next Wednesday!


  Poor little Tuesday... Monday is the day to loath, and Wednesday is hump day. Tuesday is stuck in the middle with no name for itself... I think it'll stay that way.

8 AM : English

Like Monday, I have English at 8AM on Tuesday, which is half the reason I drag myself out of bed. The other half is that I get to much on my bran cereal.

Don't judge me. I like the taste of bran.

Breakfasts aside, there's something you should know about the French school system: when a teacher is absent or doesn't show up, we don't have class. There's no substitute. Yes, that's right-- no teacher, no sub, no class.

You might think this would be awesome, but unless the class is at the end of the day (maybe... one in every 5 absences?), you basically have nothing to do. Because it'd take more than an hour to go into the city for some shopping, the student foyer can get to be same-old-same-older a while, but yet it's raining so you can't go outside. So you chill around for an hour, waiting for your next class. Ah, the French life

9 AM : Free period

For me and only me... my friends have Cinema during this period. I, however, have some time to wait until my next class. I burnt it in the foyer reading.

    Girl Running on Balcony, Giacomo Balla.      Weeping Woman, Pablo Picasso.        Dadaist Poster, unkown.

9:30 AM : History of the Arts; Visual

This is a kind of weird class, and I say that only because it starts on the half-hour instead of the hour, like all normal classes. It goes until 11AM, at which point I... do nothing again?

  Anyway, this is a great time for me to explain a bit about how the class system works. Within each grade in high school, there are around 9 different classes. Unlike my school back in Canada (some differ, but I'm going to be comparing it to my school-class-system), the classes stay together the whole day. We have all have English at 8AM on Mondays, we all have lunch break at the same time, we all are finished at the same time as the rest.

But wait-- hang on a minute! Didn't I say that my friends had Cinematics and I was taking History of the Arts?

Yes, yes I did.

I've been crafty (I do this back home too, if you know me you should be nodding your head) and shifted to another class for that one hour and a half each week... because Cinematics was too hard to intergrate into. They were preparing documentaries, and seeing as I'd never done anything remotely close to making a professional film (school projects for English class do not count!), I was rather confused as to what they were talking about with their big words, what they were looking for and how I count input. Essentially,
my inutility was incredible.

So I changed.

And now I'm learning about all sorts of artist movements-- I kind of came into the class while they were starting the unit on cubism, so I missed the better part of History of the Arts, but so be it. Picasso and I are besties now. So are Kurt Schwitters and I. Party at the Bauhaus! :D


1 PM : Lunch

Ahem. Done partying now.

So during the 11AM-12:45PM break I have after HA class, I usually go home and do something productive (read: watch YouTube videos and make pancakes). After that, I walk back to the school and wait for my friends to finish their Cinematics class, at about 1PM (yeah, basically I ended up dropping 2 and a half hours of courses by switching to Arts class! Weee~).

I'll be specifying the details of the "Self" or "Cantine" tomorrow, because I don't have much to post about Wednesdays. In any case, today we were given pasta with chicken, but since there were some zucchini-puree servings left over from Monday, I asked for that instead. With some chicken, because it's not shake-and-baked.

My plate is the first one, in case you didn't get that: Tomatoes (yes, Daddy, tomatoes! I eat them now, and I love them!), zucchini-puree, chicken wing, strawberries and strawberry-puff pastry. (I didn't eat the pastry, though... I gave it to my friend Flo. Bahaha, I rhymed! :'D)


2 PM: Biology

As if I wasn't in an immature-enough mood already, French Bio provided a great source of "learning" for me, as my friends put it. Before I explain what we learned, I'm going to explain why:

In France, high schools are specialised, unlike in the Americas and most other countries. When you enter grade 11 (which, for some reason, is where I was placed... despite kind of being in grade 10 in Canada. I love in-equivalencies!) in France, you're forced to choose what sort of diploma you want to obtain upon graduation:

Science: Obviously a very science and math-based curriculum-- around five hours a week of each subject: Bio, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics. They also manage to throw in Pys Ed, French, History-Geography and English somewhere. My
host brother is in the Science domain.

Eco-Social: Basically... the study of economics and social sciences. Not really sure how the classes work, but I'm pretty sure they manage 10 hours a week of Eco-social class; that is to say, 5 hours of Economics and 5 hours of Social Studies, in addition to History-Geography, English, French, Phys Ed, Science (Bio-Chem-Phys hybrid) and Psychology.

Literature: Best. Domain. Ever. Well, not really-- it's great and horrible in the sense that it's really, really easy. And this is coming from someone whose second language is French and who is one year-level below where she's actually studying. We do 5 hours a week of French Literature class (in-depth analysis of masterpiece poems, plays and books) and only 2 hours a week of Bio-Chem-Phys, as well as only 2 hours of Maths a week. Though I might mention they do 4 hours of Cinematics a week? Or Theatre, or History of the Arts (HA is split between Tuesdays and Fridays, though. The majority of the class is taught Friday, when I have French. So I only go on Tuesday).

  Now, where was I? Oh yes... Bio. Well, we're studying... dicks. Because we only do 1 hour of Bio a week, we must learn about the essential things. Yes; this should serve me well sometime in the future: now I know what a testicle is called in French-- the same damn thing it is in English. Don't we all love languages?

3 PM : Physics-Chemistry

  Again, very simplified Physics-Chemistry, because we only do 1 hour of it a week. Even still, it's one of my favourite classes... because I like sciences. You can stop judging me now-- we went over this with the bran flakes.

Anyway. At the beginning, when I first arrived, they were studying the eye. Then we studied colours and the spectrum of visible light (it made me feel like a kid again, colouring that wheel like a rainbow!). Now we're moving on to chemistry and cooking, something that evidently appeals to me. Even if it's simplistic, it's still interesting.

4 PM : Maths

Simplistic maths, as well... though I don't do the work. Yes, I am thoroughly satisfied with myself, just to straighten things out: I don't do the work because the teacher speaks gibberish and even the class doesn't understand what he's teaching. I think they're studying probability right now, but I'm not entirely sure, that's how bad it is. I'd love to say that I could read the numbers on the board, but it's not really worth the effort...

...I'd show you his writing, but he's a crab and wouldn't let me take pictures during the class even though I asked nicely. So I cannot show you it right now, but I have another hour on Thursday, and here's to hoping I can sneak a picture of the board then.

My day is done then, because it's Tuesday and I'm out at 5 again. Woe is me.... But Wednesday is must more fun!


Monday, Monday, Monday. No matter how many times you say it and no matter what language, it always infers suffering, loathing, tiredness and boredom. Here's my Monday:

School starts at 8AM on Mondays for me, so after dragging myself out of bed I tend to come up with one good reason why I should go upstairs and then to school. I don't think I found a reason this Monday.


8 AM :  English

This is usually the reason I wake up on Mondays. Not because it's my native language and a break from all the French (actually, I'd probably stay in bed if those were the reasons), but because the prof. is absolutely amazing. He's German-born but lived in the States for several years, so is effectively trilingual. Though I do remember him saying it was alright to say "all along the weekend"... which then prompted this huge battle between us. I won. (After he contacted 3 colleges to check, bahaha)

In any case, we're doing a movie study right now: Jeremiah Johnson. We watch the film in English with French subtitles, and then answer questions on it and discuss it. It's incredible how good their English is, compared to most peoples' French back in Canada... they're not fluent or anything, but it's probably the equivalent of a six-year-old's vocabulary and grammar, which is saying something for 3 hours of English a week.

9 AM : Free period

  This period usually sees me hanging around in the student lounge ("foyer") with my friends... nothing eventful usually happens. I kind of just took ninja photos of people to occupy myself on this Monday, though.

10 AM : Sport

  EPS, or Sports and Physical Education, French-style. You'd think that it's incredibly difficult, because all of them are so damn skinny they must work out a lot, but... no.

  Effectively this is what we do for 2 hours: Sit around and talk. But don't tell anyone-- I'm getting a Phys Ed credit for this.  (To be fair, I run 5K every other day, but even still... it's awesome. :D)


12 noon : Lunch

  I'll talk more about the "cantine" (cafeteria-thing, I suppose) at the school tomorrow, because there's a lot less to talk about then. Or maybe I'll talk about it on the Wednesday post. Well, either way... guess which plate is mine. I'll give you some hints:

1. I've started eating foods I didn't eat before
2. I've stopped eating meat from the cantine unless it's fresh (meaning, not shake-and bake'd or full of God-knows-what)
3. I've decided taking dessert should be a worthwhile experience
4. I've learned "less is more" doesn't always have to count

If you guessed the middle plate, you're right!

Zucchini and potato puree (yellow zuccchinis, too!), avocado, bread, and lemon sponge cake. Mmmm... Yes, I am eating something for lunch. Not that I didn't back home, but... I kind of just had a sandwich and was done with it. Here I eat and I freaking enjoy it. Unless it's the processed meat they serve... in which case, I don't eat it at all. In fact, I don't even take it. You would be wise to do the same should you ever come to France.

Moving along!


2 PM : (Double) History - Geography

My other favourite class, this one is at the annex of the school on Monday. That's right... the annex. It's another building a few blocks away; some sort of old elementary school building or something that was handed over to my school for whatever reason. Anyway.

Right now we're finishing the geography unit on France's assets and Agenda 21, a law/agenda that was put in place to promote sustainable development. We're starting on WWII now, which should be interesting... actually, it is. Especially since it's evidently taught from the French perspective (my History teacher was ecstatic when she finally got to the late points in the war, where the French didn't get their asses completely handed to them.  It made me happy to hear about it! :'D)

Moreover... if you can read that writing on the board without thinking too hard, congrats! It took me three weeks to work out their cursive. In any case, the board reads (90% accuracy, here):

B) Le Tournant année 42
C) De la Ryoste alliée à la victoire
       Offensives alliées '43
       Libération de la France en 44

That's not the worst of the writing, either, trust me. Even the English prof's is barely legible, and he's not even French!


4 PM : French Literature

The French school day can be incredibly long sometimes, especially on Mondays... but for some reason, it doesn't seem long at all by the time French rolls around. In fact, this is probably the best class to have from 4PM until 5. Since some of the things are "too complex for me to follow" (that's my story and I'm sticking to it), this class sees me reading-- a great way to build my vocab whilst being amused by tales of Angels of Music and tunnels under the Paris Opera House. (Phantom of the Opera by Gaston LeRoux, if you didn't get that) My favourite hour... one to unwind and forget about the hours spent squinting at the board trying to copy notes.

French classes last 55 minutes each. Here's how the day works:

8:00 - 8:55                 Period 1
9:00 - 9:55                 Period 2
9:55 - :10:05              Break
10:05 - 11:00             Period 3
11:05 - 12:00            Period 4
12:05 - 1:00               Period 5 OR Lunch*
1:00 - 1:55                 Period 5 OR Lunch*
2:00 - 2:55                 Period 6
3:00 - 3:55                 Period 7
3:55 - 4:05                 Break
4:05 - 5:00                Period 8
5:05 - 6:00                Period 9

* Now, you'll notice here that for the first and only time during the day, there isn't a 5-minute break to get from class to class. That's because you have lunch in one or both of those periods... so the cruel administrators took 5 minutes off our lunch to serve as a "turnaround time" so that the classes from 4-6 stay on the hour, if you follow.  Wankers.

You can see why one would be zonked after a day that long. Mind you, yo don't always finish at 6 (I never do), but nonethless if can be draining if your schedule has given you a bunch of endless classes on one day. Namely... Mondays.

And... that's that for now (thank God). I'll see you tomorrow!

Flo's House.

  I've just realised I'm really, really behind on a lot of posts, including the supermarket posts, so I figured I'd put something up until I have time to post more.
  (I'm also apologising in advance for the bad photo quality... my camera went wonky on me this weekend)

  To compensate for the lack of supermarket interrogations, check this out:

  Not even kidding. Tastes just like a cheeseburger-- pickles, ketchup, onions, cheese, mustard, patty and all. It's... kind of gross. Actually, no. It's really gross. A cheeseburger on it's own is super, especially when my daddy makes them, but... a cheeseburger chip? Are you shitting me? It's disgusting. If they come to North America, DO NOT EAT THEM. I will hurt you if you do-- you'll be endangering your health by consuming them. Who knows what's in those things? I bet Lays doesn't even know. And while we're at it, yes, I am capable of eating just one of these. Mainly because anything after that starts to taste like sandpaper, the initial revoltation of a cheeseburger-chip aside.

  In other news, my host parents went to Brussels/Bruxelles for the weekend, because it's Mothers' Day here in France. So I stayed at my friend Flo's house this weekend.

  Honestly, it was really great! I love her so much, and I really don't want to say goodbye in a month. Flo, in a nutshell, is basically this adorable little bundle of everything amazing. She's also really into Japanese and German culture, not to mention their fashion and music. Her room is full of posters of Japanese musical groups, and her door is painted like the German flag. I mean really, how cool is that?

  So basically the weekend was spent watching movies (Slumdog Millionaire, Crows Zero 1 and 2, part of Shutter Island...) and... knowing me, baking. But it wasn't my idea, this time! After being introduced to the incredibility known as cupcakes on a recent trip to Ireland, and after eating them at the birthday last weekend, Flo decided she wanted to make some with me this weekend! So we went out and bought what we needed, I stopped by "my" house to pick up the molds and papers and measuring cups, and we got to work:

We used what I'm now going to dub the weirdest cupcake recipe ever. It has nothing to do with the fact that the ingredients are weird--in fact, they're your average chocolate cupcake ingredients, with some raspberry jam--so much as the fact that it was made and mixed in a pot over a stove.

I am not kidding.

I am also not kidding when I say I must learn to stand up straight in photos. I swear, normally I have good posture, but for some reason I slouch in photos, thus making me look fat and old-boned. Maybe the smiling takes too much concentration and so I forget about standing properly?

Next comes the mixing of the icing...

...and the posing with the icing. And I am not giving a link to the recipe because it was a really bad one and I don't want you to suffer. Moving along...


After me dicking around with the icing ingredients for forever to try to make it taste better (only a minor success... it was still kind of weird) Flo decided to put names on the cupcakes using sprinkles. I kind of gave up after two names... don't take anything personally, guys. But you two that I managed to put your names on the things, there's your virtual raspberry cupcakes. Flo managed to make three names, and then an M in a heart for another friend whose name would never, ever, EVER fit on a cupcake if you tried. And then she put patterns on the rest... one sprinkle at a time.

I don't know if you can see that little thing in the middle,... the cupcake with a face. Yeah. Essentially Flo is amazing and found some jelly beans, and, well... yes. I wanted to eat it but couldn't find the heart to kill the thing. It is preserved forever in photos, though. And it'll probably end up in Flo's stomach within the next few days.

And hey, look!  A special guest appearance by the cheeseburger chips. Don'teatthem.

I'm not the only one who likes taking pictures of cupcakes!

  In any case, there are only two weeks left of school before exams begin here... and I still haven't taken many photos at school. So this week (starting tomorrow, evidently) I'm bringing my camera to school to let you guys in on the happenings at my lycée. I'll be posting a run-down of every single day (because the schedule changes every day based on the day of the week) for the next week, so you guys can have the opportunity to see what I live while here. I'm not sure if it's interesting, but I'll let you decide.

  Just don't eat the cafeteria food. It's alive, I swear it.


  Since nothing much is going on this weekend--I mean, it's a long weekend, but I'm kind of stuck doing homework for a Civics project--I thought I'd do a quick post of some baking I did for one of my friend's birthday. She really likes frogs and cupcakes, sooooo...

  Vegan chocolate cupcakes filled with chocolate chip cookie dough, frosted with buttercream and decorated with marshmallows, chocolate-covered peanuts and licorice. C:   They were really tasty!

   Yum. <3


T rex dinosaur
S. Hartley

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