Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Sorry it's been a while! I actually was pretty busy this time, it's much easier to say you are going to keep up a blog until you actually, but don't worry I haven't forgotten :)

The month of December went fairly normally, school, sleep, school. However, in France vacation starts much earlier, I've been off since the 17th, and also the last day of school before vacation is much more action packed than at home.
First of all, there are always Christmas decorations around. We had a huge Christmas tree in the entrance hallway, and little ornaments all over. Secondly, there was a huge Christmas meal- Repas de Noel- that lasted for two hours and was followed by a concert put on by the students.

I hung out with the other exchange students and watched, and besides being crammed against a railing by other kids trying to see, it was so much fun.

 I can't imagine this at school back in Wisconsin. 
 this is the concert :P

After that vacation was pretty normal, we hung around the house for a few days, and then while my host dad worked, my host siblings and I went to my host grandparents house for a while. I turned seventeen that week, and it was really sweet because they bought me a cake and sang Joyeux Anniversaire. I can't say I feel much older, but it's quite strange having a birthday in a different country. However, it was a much improved birthday from my 16th- working and school, haha.

For Christmas though, we drove up to the family Chalet, which means cabin or cottage. It was so amazing, this cute wood house up in the mountains. The view was amazing, especially at night. We stayed there with my host family's grandparents and cousins, and it was quite fun.

I even tried skiing for the first time ever! It was really hard, I felt like I had two huge feet I couldn't control and even got stuck in a fence, but I had fun! Now I'm back home for the rest of vacation :)

I also have a video of the mountains around the ski resort. They are so breathlessly beautiful I can't even describe it, so I have to show you.

Other than that, New Year's is this weekend! :D
So I'll wrap it up by saying to everyone, HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR <3

Sunday, November 27, 2011


So this weekend, I went to Germany. I feel so weird typing that, almost-- like going to Germany is hardly a big deal. But it kind of felt that way when the car ride was only three hours long and required no customs whatsoever. We went for an awesome open market in a city called Freiburg. The market is this huge thing where artisans opens booths included handmade things like food, candles, toys, soaps, wooden carvings, etc...

We left from Cuvat around noon, and passed through the border into Switzerland the same way you pass through a pay toll in the US, except there wasn't a fee. We drove through Switzerland for a while which I must say was one of the prettiest car rides I've ever taken, (I LOVE Swiss houses) and then we passed through the German border (again, easiest thing ever). Fun fact: there is no speed limit on German highways meaning you can go as fast as you want. So we got to Freiburg, fairly quickly after that.

We first went to the hotel and checked out our room. My host dad speaks German so it was like my first day in France all over again -- me standing there understanding nothing :P After we went up the room which was decorated so nicely I took a picture:

 Although believe it or not- the bathrooms are in a different room down the hallway. First hotel I've ever been in where the bathroom wasn't right there in the room. Yay cultural differences! :D
After we walked down to the place where the market was passing by buildings like this:
 And the prettiest McDonald's I've ever seen:
We finally got there, and it was really crowded. It was so strange hearing German everywhere, and seeing it everywhere. I even saw my last name BECK on multiple stores and it made me happy. We squeezed through the crowds and I got to see real hand crafted wooden statues and smell amazing sausages and even tried some BREZEL which was by far the most amazing pretzel I've ever eaten. I also had warm fruit juice which was delicious and got to keep the cup. I finally got around to buying a coat, and bought some presents for my parents. After, we walked around a bit, returned to the hotel to relax and watch some German TV, and then went back out for dinner. It took us ages to find a restaurant as all the others were literally full. We almost went to McDonalds, until we found one that had open tables. It was really pretty, and loud, and they kept playing old American songs, and I almost felt like I was back in America, especially when they handed me a HUGE glass of water. I had gotten so used to the small glasses in France, I was almost overjoyed to not finish my water in one gulp, haha. After that we went back to the hotel and slept.
The next day was pretty short, we woke up, and went downstairs to a huge brunch. There was sausage, ham, eggs, mushrooms, yoghurt, cereal, brezel, bread, everything. After we returned to the market, bought some gingerbread cookies for Christmas, and then headed back to the car to go home.

I can't really describe such a cool place this was, and how great it was just being there, so here are some pictures:

(^ This photo is dedicated to Mark Stewart)
Other than that- things are going well. I love my school, my host family, my house, my city, and Christmas vacation is just two weeks away!!

I'll update again soon~

À bientôt!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


SO BIG NEWS: I changed host families and regions. To put it simply, I was having problems with the host family and adapting well (one of the reasons I didn't update my blog very often) so I requested to change host families. Because there weren't any families available in the region (it's really difficult to find host families any time of the year) they asked if I knew anyone who would host me. I am now with my friend Maud, at her amazing house in Cuvat, France near Annecy in Rhone Alps. Picture below: 

It's right by Switzerland! AND THE SWISS ALPS. There are mountains everywhere around me: on the bus ride to school, outside my window, right in the back yard! It's so beautiful here! And the reason I put the title as it is, is because I feel like I'm in the Sound of Music. I know I'm not in Austria, but I'm in the Swiss Alps all the same, so SHHH don't ruin my moment :P

So just for an update, I'll tell you about my long weekend:

Thursday: It was my last day of school in Angers. It was kind of sad, but I was meeting up with a bunch of other AFSers that night so it was easy to not think about it. Straight away after school I went to the gare to look for Holly (NZ). Funny story though, I couldn't find her, and my phone was dead. I paced around the gare for like an hour, and even tried the pay phone, although it doesn't take cash and you need a card. I had to go back to meet Eszter at lycee and we both were freaking out worrying about Holly because both of our phones were dead. Finally, we ran into France Telecom and bought a charger. I then used an outlet in the store to check my phone: Holly was with Gabe the whole time. I felt really relieved. We went and met them at the gare and then met up with Elizabeth and Erin who took a train for the night. We hung around for a while until Gabe and Eszter left (a very sad moment saying goodbye to Eszter) and then after went shopping with Elizabeth Erin and Holly. After Elizabeth and Erin took the train back to Saumur and Holly and I went back home to watch a movie.

Friday: Holly and I met up with Benji and Gabe at the Foire (a carnival/fair) where we went on a few rides and ate festival foods and basically goofed around. Here are some pictures :

 It was so safe.

Saturday: Holly and I returned to the Foire where we met Gabe again and went on some more rides. Funny fact: the word for cotton candy in french is barbe a papa, which means father's beard. Haha. Anyways, Holly went back to Laval that night, and I packed.

Sunday: I woke up early in the morning, lugged my suitcases to the train station and off I went! I met up with the volunteer of Rhone Alps AFS in Blois where she was visiting friends with her family and her AFS student Natalia from Colombia. We hung around in town and then left by car for her house near Lyon. It was a fun trip: except the car battery died twice, the first time at 20h and the second time at midnight. :P It wasn't too cold, and it was funny pushing the car along the French roads at night. We ended up getting a lift from their friends because the car was so dead. We got to the house around 1 am and went straight to bed.

Monday: I hung around the house and went for a walk with the volunteer through the mountains. It was so beautiful, I didn't get any pictures though because it was too dark for my camera by then :( I ate a lovely dinner and then went to bed early because I knew it would be a long day Tuesday.

Tuesday: I woke up and repacked my backpack and ate lunch. My train left from Lyon at 4 so we left her town around 14h to get there on time. We only drove through Lyon, but it was so beautiful, I'll definitely have to visit it again. We went into the gare, and the music was so dramatic.
I was so glad the volunteer stayed with until the train actually left though because it got changed TWICE. Haha. But I finally got to Annecy after the most beautiful train ride ever. I'll upload videos of it after I publish this. I finally saw Maud and it was such a cool moment. After we went back to the house ate dinner and I got ready for school.

TODAY: We took the bus to school, and i got to see the mountains by sunrise and it was beautiful. There was even frost on the ground and that made me happy-- I missed the cold! We got to the lycee which is so beautiful. It's completely modern architecture and open with windows on the roof. The teachers and classmates seem really nice, and that's always a good thing! Then I got back home ate lunch with Maud's grandparents and Quentin her brother. Then we went for a walk, pictures below:

Well, I must now go do homework!

À bientôt! 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hey there!

Hello everyone!
So you know how I said I'd update this blog regularly with more than just pictures...
I'm sorry, I've been busy, and by busy I mean not at all. I've just been lacking motivation. But, I am back! With a new fiery will to keep updated that hopefully won't fade within a month again! 
Basically a lot has happened within the last, dear goodness it's been almost a month, so I will put them into a list because lists are neat:
-Had an AFS meeting at a strange cave-like ancient home
-Spent a weekend in Saumur with Erin and Elizabeth (Australian AFSers) and saw the castle of Saumur 
-Had the one month mark of being in France
-Took and failed miserable my first French test
-Saw someone wearing an actual beret
-Gained some knowledge in French (still not fluent)
-Had another AFS meeting making apple juice (I love my AFSers)
-Had Eszter over for the weekend and spoke with her parents on Skype (I said one word in Hungarian)
-Discovered that the park here lacks a playground but has cows. 
-Also there is a lake

I didn't realise there were that many events until I finished typing just now. But I think that is because I am starting to get used to daily life in France. Well, I must buzz off to bed! 

à bientôt! 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Lycée vs High School

I've been in France for over two weeks now, so I think it's about time to update.
I started school two weeks ago on Tuesday, and have since then obviously noticed many differences between school here and school back in West Bend. Because I don't want to bore you to death with writing forever, I'll condense them down into four main topics:

1. Time/Schedules

Back in the US I have a pretty normal schedule of school from 7:30am-2:30pm. There are fifty minutes classes with five minute breaks in between to go to your locker/bathroom or whatever. I have a twenty minute lunch, and constantly switch classes and teachers and students. Here, it's a completely different story. The time you here starts can change, as well as the time you leave. For me, I start school everyday at eight, unless a teacher is sick (but I'll get into that later). The time I end ranges from 3 o clock to 6 o clock. The classrooms here also change, you are given the numbers for each of your classes on the first day of school orally to write down in your notebook (luckily a teacher gave them to me after class as I didn't catch them at all). Except, here, the teachers change classrooms as well. The only thing that doesn't change are the students you are with because we are seperated into L, ES, and S classes which you can read more into here ( ) I'm just going to type this here: NO LOCKERS.
For lunch, the time for break also changes. Minimally, you will always have an hour. However, there are times where I have four hours for lunch. But, I am not locked up in the building as I will get to in my next point:

2. Open Campus

The schools here are completely open campus. You can leave and go as you please, which is completely fantastic. If you have an hour break between classes you can go and grab a coffee with your friends. The first day during break I grabbed lunch with my host mom. Other days I ate at the shelf (cafeteria), but most days I wandered out and explored, eating a baguette along the way, and sometimes even shopping. The campus is also open in the fact that the gym is a few blocks away, along with the swimming pool. This means in order to make these classes you have to catch the bus or walk. They also allow the open campus because there are students who live at the school, a lot like college, because their cities are too far away, or there's no time for them to get to school in the mornings. So there is a building for dorm rooms. Also, at the school, there are no substitutes. This means if a teacher is sick or gone, there is no class and you can leave. I usually have so many breaks that the days I have class until six don't even phase me. But it's really nice because I'm already really famillar with my town from being able to wander.

3. The Shelf (cafeteria)

I want to start of by expressing my extreme disgust towards the cafeteria food back at my old school. I always brought cold lunch with me because the hot food is terrible. However, here, it's a completely different story. The whole process of actually eating is really different. If you want to eat at the cafeteria that day, you must scan your student card at a machine by the office in order to reserve a plate for lunch. When lunch rolls around, you wait in line outside of the cafeteria building. You have to show your schedule to a teacher so that person can make sure you are going to lunch at a time that is conveniant for everyone (ex: If I have lunch from 12-1 I'd go in before someone with lunch from 12-2). Once you're in, you have to re-scan your card. When you re-scan it, one of the trays will shoot out at you to grab. You also grab here SILVERWEAR (not plastic sporks) along with a small glass to drink from. Then you take your tray down a buffet line thing where you grab a salad/pasta-esque dish, then continue down to grab a dessert, then the main dish (usually delicious meat and fries or vegetables) and then a fruit, and finally a fresh roll. The chefs there cook all of these things before school, so there is no re-heating packaged lunch. After you find a place to sit. They always have pitchers to fill up with water at a fountain drink type station in the middle, so you can pour it into your glasses. When you are completely finished you place your tray onto a lever thing that pushes it into the kitchen to be washed.

4. The Students themselves

I want to express the first thought that entered my head when I walked into the school court which was," Everyone.. is.. smoking..." and It is true. About 94% of the student population here smokes. It definitely took a while to get used to, but, it is possible.
The other thing I noticed was how well dressed everyone is here. There were no sweatpants, no sweatshirts, no slippers. I couldn't believe how fashionable the students were. Most of the girls wear high heels jeans and a nice blouse with a cardigan and scarf. And my backpack instead of a tote bag definitely stood out. It will definitely be strange coming back to girls in their pajamas after this.

Well that is about it for now. I posted more pictures on my Facebook for any of my friends who want to see! I visited the Chateau d'Angers today with Erin, and had an absolute awesome time. It's so beautiful here.

I'm going to go to bed now (school tomorrow) but before then here a list of random things I am infatuated with here at the moment: macarons, the huge church in my city, the cute apartments, the vending machines here, eating french fries with a fork, coffee, the BREAD, nutella.

À bientôt!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

More Pictures!

Tomorrow will be the end of my first week in France! 
I don't have the time (or motivation, really xD) to type up another long post about school and my city, so for now, I will just upload some pictures! 

Monday, September 5, 2011


Well, I am in France.
Where to start?

I left for New York City early Wednesday morning. It was really strange waking up with the thought that this was the last morning in my house for ten months, but my mind was more focused on getting my luggage packed, downstairs, and ready to go. I was way too anxious to eat, so I ended up leaving for the airport on an empty stomach. I thought the drive there would be really sad, but everything was oddly normal. My parents talked about stuff while I listened to music in the back. We got to the airport pretty early, so we chilled around the security entrance for a while. The time came to leave, and I had to say goodbye to my parents. It was awful for the first five or so minutes, but once I got through security, I was okay. I found my gate and boarded really quickly and was off to New York City. The excitement for meeting all the other AFSers kicked in about then. I landed in LGA an hour later and found the AFS volunteers after baggage claim and waited for all the other AFSers to land and find us. It ended up being a ton of kids from Wisconsin and Gabe from Texas (first person from G+ I met in person :P). We all got on the shuttle bus to the hotel and arrived around half an hour later. I saw Gello first, and then eventually met up with all the people I'd been talking to on the AFS France group and G+! We all chilled around talking for most of the night, ate dinner, and then partied in Kevin's room. Most of the orientations started the next day;

Thursday! We woke up early, and after a few of us got stuck going up and down on the elevator, we went down to eat breakfast. After breakfast we started orientations, which were a little hard to concentrate in because we were all excited to leave, but managed to complete. We had a toast (with cider!) and then had lunch, and then got ready to leave for JFK. We were split up into two groups in order to fit on the buses there, I was on the first. We got to JFK at the same time and went through security pretty quickly. We got to our gate with about two hours to spare, so we were let loose to explore and grab food before the seven hour plane ride. No one managed to get lost, although we did have a straggler getting pizza, and we boarded the plane around five pm. The chaperone told us no switching seats until everyone was situated, but we switched seats early anyways. I ended up in a row with Toni, Nathaniel, and Gello. It was a really fun plane ride. I don't think it would have been as awesome if we weren't on Swiss Air. ( I'm not sponsored, I swear ;) ) We were able to watch the plane cross the Atlantic, and beat the night time. It was the shortest night ever, I think about four hours only we were in the dark. Of course many of us didn't sleep, I got in an hour thanks to Gello letting me sleep on him. All of us were awake for when we landed in Zurich on...

Friday! And yes, a few of us did sing 'Friday' on the plane. I mean, we were overtired and SO EXCITED. Landing in Zurich was awesome. It was so awesome seeing the Swiss houses out of the plane window. We got complimentary hot towels and Swiss chocolate as we landed (I loved the hot towel--still don't know why I needed to dampen my face and hands, but hey, I felt fancy). When we got off the plane, I was pretty surprised to see all English signs. But, I was able to hear and see the German later. I was so happy though. It was my first time in a foreign country; I couldn't help but jump and down a little. We moved as a group to our next gate area for our flight to Paris. I followed Benji around after finding out he had been to the airport and Switzerland multiple times before (he has dual citizenship and even has a Swiss passport which is CLASS). We got to security, but we landed so early (FIVE hours early) and didn't even have a proper gate yet. So we were let off to explore for three hours. A bunch of us went to find a place to sit down. Benji bought some truffles while Jackson and Nathaniel got some cafes. I bought one of the truffles off Benji for 5 euros, and absolutely don't regret it because it was freaking delicious. Then we mulled around until finally we could go through security, which was so uptight there. A few people got patted down, and I had to take out my backpack because the 3 oz liquids rang up or something. We bought some food before boarding the plane, and then landed in Paris within the next hour.
PARIS. I couldn't believe I was actually there. I was exhausted at that point, my mind wasn't processing anything when we were at baggage claim. I think some German AFS kids were there, but I could just be remembering nothing. After we got our bags we were handed off to AFS France who again split us up into two buses and sent us to the hostel in the 20th arrondissement. I still have no idea what happened to going through customs... Because I'm 99.9% sure we skipped it. I barely remember the bus ride, I know I was awake, but was so tired my memory was probably on stand-by. We got to the hostel around two or so I think, and I finally woke up just because I couldn't wait to meet all of the 300+ AFSers from around the world. Check in was simple, we just grabbed a name tag and gave them our checked bag. However, I was bombarded by one of the AFSers, making it a little harder to do than it should have been. Luckily, I saw some of the NZers and Aussies, and I finally met my two Hungarian friends! The rest of the day was basically free to chill around and eat dinner, so we did just that. The Aussies, NZers, and Americans actually ended up getting pretty close <3 We all went to bed exhausted.

We woke up early on Saturday too, had breakfast, and then were split up into two groups, one to see Paris, one to have orientations, and then switch. I had orientations first. The information was pretty standard, most of which we had heard before. We did an awesome activity with the NZers though, and then headed for lunch. After lunch we all had to put on bright yellow and orange AFS t-shirts for our bus tour. The bus tour was really great, although I didn't manage to get many pictures because of the fact we were in a bus, plus I fell asleep towards the end... But, we did get out at the Tour Eiffel. I can't describe how weird it was seeing it in person. I felt like I was looking a picture. Did you know there is a huge fountain/pool thing at the base of it across the street though? There were tons of kids/adults splashing around in it, so of course we all got in it too! Then we walked further down right under the Eiffel Tower where AFS had us do a lovely "Funky Chicken" mob dance which was hilarious. Yes, everyone was staring, and yes people took videos, and once I find one I will definitely share it. After that we returned to the hostel where we had dinner and then had a small party because we wouldn't be seeing most of each other for a while. Then we went to bed early because the next day...

Sunday! We left for our host town via TGV. I left at 7h with Erin, Elizabeth, Gabe, Benji, and the other people in my region. We didn't get on the train until 10, so we waited around eating breakfast, trying vegemite, and trying to calm down our nerves. The TGV ride was really fast, our ears were popping like crazy for the first few minutes. It was nice seeing the French countryside. We got to Angers in about an hour and a half, and got off right away. We were all so nervous standing there waiting for our host families. I was shaking like mad, it was crazy. I ended up seeing my host mom first, and then saw Nathan and Sarah next. Baptiste was at home sleeping (shows teenage boys are the same everywhere). We all biz'ed and then walked into the main lobby of the gare. AFS collected telephone numbers, addresses, took pictures, and then we were able to drive off with our host families.
Angers is so beautiful. We even drove past the Chateau d'Angers which is extremely cool, and will definitely need to visit multiple more times.

( I'm far closer to Angers than I thought I would be, so we got to our house within seven minutes. Oh, my house is so cute and pretty. It's pretty big, and has tile floors, and lofts and the windows are always open with fresh air. There's a pretty garden with swings and food for Garfield the stray cat.
My family is amazing. I couldn't have imagined anything better, they are so welcoming and patient with my poor French. )

Anyway, Sunday was a nice first day, Nathan and I played some sports outside, Benedicte's friend came over for dinner, I handed out all of the presents, took a shower, and then happily went to bed after being so exhausted. Finally, that leaves us with, 

Today! :D I went around Angers with Bénédicte and Sarah while Nathan was at school, I got my phone for France, finally connected the WiFi, and Voila, c'est tout!
I am putting some pictures at the bottom. Hopefully I will update again soon! This week should be eventful after all, I start school on Tuesday....

À bientôt! 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Last update before leaving

It has been a while, and that means this will most likely be a long-ish post.

I'll start with July and my visa. And let me just say the whole process was immensely easier than I thought it would be. After receiving the visa information packet from AFS via email, I thought I was going to curl up in a ball with how complicated it sounded. But, really the process is quite simple. My parents and I booked our appointment at the consulate in Chicago, filled out some forms, and then waited until AFS sent the rest in the mail. By the time the appointment came, my mom had a whole folder with all of the original papers and at least four copies of each. We arrived at the consulate expecting to be there for a while, but ended up walking out of there within the next twenty minutes. There was a large check-in counter that we got visitor passes from, and then took the elevator up to the floor of the consulate. We followed this blank white hallway until we came across a room that had a Times New Roman typed sign that said, "VISAS". It was small and really casual-looking, with green and orange lamps and a bunch of college looking kids talking to each other. My mom and I sat down, and waited to be called. When I heard my name, we walked up to what was like a drive-through bank counter. There was a glass screen with a hole for documents, and the workers talked to you through a mic. She asked for all of my papers and passport at once, and then after a few quiet moments she asked for my money, and then had me take finger prints and a picture, and then handed me a receipt and we were out.
I got my passport a week later in the mail, and that was about it !

August was a pretty busy month... I had the Japanese students come for a week, and Maud, my awesome French student for two weeks. Both were really great, and in Maud's case, great for practicing my French!

Also, I've spoken with my host mom more, and am dying to meet her and my host siblings and my DOG. I always write that in capitol letters because otherwise it wouldn't show my complete excitement to have one next year. I also learned more about my school. I'll be going to Joachim du Bellay in Angers with another AFSer from Hungary Eszter. She is really sweet and I'm sure we'll be spending a lot of time together next year! I'll be in terminale which is their senior year. Strange, considering I'm a junior this year, but I'll be able to take the full BAC this way, which I am actually looking forward to! I'll also be in the Literature section, which means the classes are heavily weighed upon French Language, French classic literature, and History! I'm in for a interesting school year, all I can say! xD

Since then I've gotten surprisingly close with a lot of the other AFSers going to France next. I could seriously go on and on about how amazingly easy and great it is talking with all of the other people going to France, I'm am crazy excited to finally see them in NYC and Paris!! We've had a bunch of Google+ chats together which are always always hilarious, and some of us have been Facebooking almost every night, especially some of us who haven't been sleeping very well ( You know who you are ;) ) It will definitely be great to meet the rest in orientation, and get to know the people going to my region better! :D

Well, tomorrow is my last day. And I will spend it packing and packing and packing...


To everyone else, see you in France!!

À bientôt!

PS: too lazy to proofread. Might be some mistakes :P

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Update/Travel Information

I just looked at the calendar and realized I have just over three months until I leave for France.
I am mildly panicking, mostly because I still have fundraising to do, along with getting my visa, setting up my flights, and packing, which I have a feeling will be the hardest. Although school is over (*cheers*), I still feel as though my life is just as busy as ever! I usually have pretty easy-going summers, but this summer is going to be crazy! I have my ACT this week because I won't be here to take it next year. Then it is working plus other fundraising and summer gym (so I don't have to do gym senior year). Plus, I have one of my previous exchange students from Japan coming back to visit, along with hosting a French girl for two weeks in order to get in some French practice, and then helping my mother teach English to the Japanese students that come for a few weeks in August.
Even though I have all this AFS stuff to do, I am so ready to go. If only I could just jump on a plane now!

Anyways, back to the the important information. I scheduled my visa appointment at the French Consulate in Chicago, and just need to wait for the papers from AFS France before I can fill everything out. There are so many papers involved I feel like it will take hours! I am just nervous because no one in my family has a clue what we are doing. It will definitely be an experience for all of us. I am just happy because I get to take the train there :P I hope we'll be able to stop at the Japanese market too because I haven't had okonomikyaki in months.

Other than that, I just got my travel information tonight! I am glad because I really wanted to get booking my flight to New York out of the way. My mother doesn't want me flying alone, so I am looking to go with another AFSer that lives around here. I have to be at JFK airport by 4:00 pm from where all of the AFS students going abroad to Europe will stay over-night for an orientation. Then we have the International flight the next night. I am lucky to get an over-night flight so I can sleep (even though I probably won't xD). Although, I am not flying directly to Paris, I will first land in Zurich, Switzerland where we will hang around for four hours until boarding for Paris. I was excited to see that! My first time going abroad and I will hit two countries in one day! xD Than once I reach Paris, there will be a three-day orientation with all the AFS students in France, and then I will be bussed out to meet my host family, then I will be taken to get registered and so on...

Speaking of orientations, I recently went to my pre-departure orientation last month. It is required by law that we attend these before going abroad, and I have to say it was really helpful. Plus, it was nice meeting a bunch of other students who were all in the same boat as me.


I think that is everything I wanted to say... 

So in that case my ACT study book awaits!

À bientôt!

Friday, April 1, 2011



Hi! This is just a quick post explaining the ChipIn gadget above my "About Me" section.

I am still in the process of fundraising for my trip, and this gadget is something that AFS offers to help raise money. If anyone is interested in helping to donate money towards my studying abroad, all you need to do is click the orange "ChipIn" button. All the transactions are 100% secure, and will go directly to my tuition account. It is all through PayPal, so there are no sketchy places you will have to type in your credit card numbers.

I still have a lot of money to raise, as tuition alone is around $11,000, which doesn't include things such as spending money, visa/passport expenses, luggage, and other travel expenses. I have been raising money so far through my part-time job, babysitting, and other fundraising activities.

It's a lot to raise, but it's possible! :)

I will be given the names of people who donate, so I will be able to send those sponsors small gifts from France! :)

Thank you to anyone in advance who donates! Any amount of money helps, it really does!

À bientôt!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Placement/Host Family

Recently, I have been discovering some small insects crawling around my house, which around this time usually means one of two things: my house is infested, or the end of the school year is soon. Knowing that I have taken every precaution against infestations since the one time carpenter ants made an empire out of my room, I am sure it is the latter. Now, the notion that summer is approaching fast usually makes me undeniably happy. Except this year I am dreading how quickly time is flying. I still have so much fundraising to do, along with other small trivial things you wouldn't even think would be important until you are actually faced with living away from home. Just thinking about it... I need time to move slower!

Anyway, amongst the worries, I like to find comfort in having the luxury of knowing where I who I will be staying with. AFS originally told me I might not know until about a month before leaving about my placement, but I actually received all the information about three or four weeks ago. I was so incredibly happy to be able to have the chance of talking to them so long before actually reaching France. 

I should really get to where and who I will be staying with though. I will be staying in a small suburb called Saint-Barthélemy d'Anjou which is outside of Angers, France. I will show you a map here:
A really cool thing about the region I will be staying in, is that many of France's castles are situated there.  There is even a castle right in Angers, called, obviously, the Angers Castle. Here is a picture of that:

I find it incredibly awesome that it is located right in the middle of the town. So people just walk past it on their way to the grocery store like, "No big deal, just a big medieval castle there. Whatever". 

Another amazing thing about the area I am staying in, is that there are a ton of bike/hiking trails. Plus the weather is fairly mild all year, so that means I will be able to bike/walk almost all year long. I won't be hindered by the two feet of snow, ice, and negative temperatures I receive here.

So, finally my host family. I have to admit, even though I have only briefly spoken with them, I already like them. They seem so nice and welcoming. Although, they were originally told I was from Norway, which is kind of... the opposite direction of where I live. But, they requested someone from the US or Europe, so it was okay :P My host mother was actually an AFSer herself in 1983 in a town in Illinois, so pretty close! She has also visited a ton of states around the Midwest, which is also really cool. 

Besides my host mother, I will also stay with my three host siblings: baptiste (15 year old boy), sarah (14 year old girl), and nathan (10 year old boy). When I first saw this, I was really happy. I am the youngest here, and have always wanted younger siblings, but have never gotten any. So for ten months I will be an older sister! :D 

Lastly, I will mention their house, which is, for lack of better terms, awesome! It is a beautiful stone house and has a cute little lawn with a ton of trees and flowers. I will definitely show you pictures when I get there. I wonder if they have picnics often...

Well, I should probably to get to the homework I have been wrongfully neglecting for the past four hours. 

À bientôt!

Monday, March 21, 2011


Salut et Bienvenue!

My name is Elise, I am sixteen years old, and in about 180 days I will board a plane and fly to France, where I will live as an AFS exchange student for ten months. This is my blog :D

I first heard about AFS (American Field Service) when a volunteer came to my school and gave a presentation to all the foreign language classes about study abroad options in high school. I had never really considered becoming a foreign exchange student before then, I mean, my family had hosted multiple Japanese students through a local sister-city exchange, but I still never considered it something I would be interested in doing myself. So, after the presentation, I signed up for more information, not really thinking anything of it. Well, here I am a year later, and I couldn't be more excited to have the chance at such a wonderful experience.

A few things you should know before I begin my blog:

The host family I am staying with only has one computer, and I am pretty sure it gets internet through a cable (still need to ask :P) so I might not be able to update as frequently as I hoped. I will try to see if I will be able to bring my laptop along for this blog. Even so though, I will probably update only once every two weeks, as I won't want to be on the computer too much xP

Also, as I will be fully immersed in another language, my English will most likely become less and less structured, so towards the end of my blog, there may be some funky grammar/spelling errors.

Either way I hope this blog will not only keep people back home updated, but also inspire potential exchangers to study abroad themselves, as reading the other AFSer's blog definitely did that for me! :)

À bientôt!