Six years ago today, I was bidding the sun goodbye for its six month vacation behind the clouds in Normandie. I was studying abroad (via this program) in high school with a wonderful french family and undergoing one of the greatest growing experiences of my life. As my own little family experiences the joys and challenges of living in France, that small part of my adolescence abroad continues to color ma vie en rose in Paris.
I thought it might be fun to share these memories here, so I’ve copied the first email I sent to my friends and family back in the beginning of September 2006 below. I can see clearly from reading my letter that I was in a honeymoon phase: culture shock had not yet hit. The voice I used back then seems so giddy and wild, I almost hesitate to publish it.
Poking fun of our former selves can sometimes constitute a hobby in and of itself- why deny us the amusement now?
Without further ado, I give you my sanguine, seventeen-year-old self.
Bonjour ma famille et mes amis!
Well, I am finally here in France, can you believe it ??? I start school tomorrow at Sivard de Beaulieu in Carentan! I am choosing to use question marks and exclamation points because I have yet to find the period on this keyboard; funny, non? I promise, it does not exist!
Ah! I am slow to tell time becquse everything is military: on the 24 hour clock, you know? Right now it is 15:34***and 9:35 where you guys are!
For those of you who don’t know, I have a dad, Dany, a mom, Fabienne, a litle sister Morgane and a little brother, Karel! My new siblings continue to be the best teqching tool I could ask for, becquse children don’t judge and they don’t use impossible vocabulary!
To learn new words, I have become the master of charades and the master of word games! For example, if I didn’t know the word for airport, I might say something like this: I just came from “the place where people fly to on airplanes and travel
around the world”,,, something like that,,,
- The knife was “the stick I cut with,”
- The speaker was “the big sound box,”
- My contacts were “the small circles I put in my eyes to see with”
And of course, each time this kind of conversation occurs, my family gives me the correct vocabulary word :-) Ahhh, France, it teaches me to be extra flexible!
It rained this morning, a rain I have never seen before; light, soft and tiny,,, as if someone was misting the neighborhood! The weather has been really neat, yesterday, for example was very bright and sunny with a beautiful sky etched with purple and pink clouds, all day long! It feels nice outside, just on what we would call the cold side of the
weather,,, so I suppose it is winter for Floridians here, and I am loving it!
One of the first things I wanted to do here in France was listen to some French music- if I could find any! I hardly regret leaving, my music at home, because all day long I can listen to U2, The Beatles, Micheal Jackson, and of course, Celine Dion is very popular here! Today I was introduced to the Elvis Presley of France; Johnny Halliday! He sings the French version of what other than- that’s right- Elvis Presley songs! Whoot! International music is very popular here, and I can listen to Egyptian Rock, Irish Jazz, Creole, meditation music,,, yes,my options here are many!
I have joined a latin music group and a jazz music group with which I can play my steel drums- whiwh is very Creole here in France- not tropical to them and not caribbean, but Creole,,, whatever floats their bateaux–
Let’s see; I spend 25% of my time here sleeping 6 hours
12,5% playing with my siblings / my steel drum 3 hours
12,5% miscellaneous time: watching a movie, going on a walk 3 hours
And 50% of my time eating!!!!! +12 hours
Fun in france: 100% 24 hours
Meals are huge- we went to my host grandparent’s house for lunch yesterday, and it was like Thanksgiving!!! I asked about it and the family said that it was a normal meal!!! The courses were: Appetizer, the main course, salade, cheese, dessert, coffee, then *ahem* some drinks native to Normandie that made me choke and sputter ( and made everyone else laugh) but left me feeling quite warm and funny inside, actually :-)
I has taken me forever to write this email because this keyboard is so different, so I apologize that I haven’t mentioned every little detail here- but that would take up too much time, and we have got to spend a ton of our tiime eating!!!
Thank you, everyone for helping me to get here and supporting me- I am having the time of my life! I am a bit nervous about school tomorrow, is this how kindergartners feel on the first day of school?
Oh, and my name here is not Kati, it is “Kah-tee-leen!”
Love to you all,