Tuesday, December 28, 2010

CWISSMISS!!!

So, I haven't posted in a while, but really, I don't have much to say besides that we are on break (!!) and that Christmas was three days ago.

So, Christmas. What was it like in another country?

Well, not much different, and still very fun. :) Because my host family's family lives close enough to get together often, we celebrated TWO Christmases! It was a good experience. The first was the 24th at night, with Claude's side of the family, and the second was with the other side, on the 26th. So the 25th was actually just a day of relaxation from the constant entertaining and all that. :D Kind of funny in retrospect... I got a couple presents that I love!! One of them being a large map of the world. It is on my wall right now, and makes me so happy!

Aside from the festivities, not much has been going on lately... The language is coming along very well, although I am still going very slowly in the French Literature part of things. :P

Rethinking things... I may move up to Premiere as I was planning to earlier in the year. We shall see, we shall see.

Oh, and I want to mention that I have started back up again with this website called the 365 project. It is a year of photos, one per day. I will try my hardest to keep it updated, but that didn't go so well last time. XD Nonetheless, I shall make an effort to keep it going.

www.365project.org/cbh

I think... Hmmm let me check on that. :) Yep, it is that url.

So, happy holidays, all!

Joyeuses Fêtes!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Quick~Rapideee!

So, I just wanted to mention so I don't forget to put it into the next post, Sarkozy visited our city today, to go to a factory on the outskirts of Vernon. Cool stuff... :] Well, talk to you later!
OH!!! I met an American that is working as a teacher's assistant at our lycée today, too! So much cooler than the first part, obviously. Pshhh. But really. I AM SO HAPPY :D:D She lives in Sacramento! And has some friends in LG. So yay.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pinball, Debates, Escalade, Super-lunches, Crazy French Wordsss, and Dreams.

Hey all! Great week :D
It has continued to snow slightly, so a lot of people can't get to school if they take the bus. This makes it all the better for those of us who have to go to school, though, cause half the teachers aren't there and half the students aren't there, so all the better. =] I have started to get to the point now in which I totally can understand what's going on in my classes, even French. French not so much as history, science, math, and ... English, but still I am starting to be able to follow what he is teaching. I am really kinda impressed at the capacity of the human brain to absorb so many words and concepts and all that jazz in a new language. Hooray!

Anywhooooooooooooo-

"He's a pinball wizard there has to be a twist, a pinball wizard and uh blahblahblah something something lalala. How do you think he does it??!! I don't know..." Yay for incomplete song lyrics.
Well, did I tell you that my host family has a *drum roll* PINBALL MACHINE?! <--- interrobang for added punch! Well, they do, and from the first moment my eyes met it's metal surface, I knew that one of my goals for the year would be to conquer it. Believe me, playing pinball with a real machine is about twenty times harder than on the PC... =/ But I have trained with a master, named Eric, also known as host dad, who has taught me many tricks to gain the skills needed to maîtriser the thing that they call "flipper." Yes, yes indeed. My best score is 1,933,920. Just in case you wanted to know.

Today in school, I had a session of my generally bi-weekly class ECJS. I don't know what that stands for. No matter! Well, we had our first debate today. Which is awesome because ever since I read that article in the Mercury News many a year ago in which the French 5 students from such and such high school held a debate in French, I couldn't really stop thinking about it. Even yesterday, I am pretty sure there was a moment in which I questioned whether I could debate in French. Well, I guess that was answered this morning. Yes. I can debate in French. I can mess up all of their verb tenses, make the wrong assumption about a false-cognate, subsequently embarrass myself and PWN the alternate team all at once. But yes, I can debate in French. And have a lot of fun doing it, too. What was the topic, you may ask? "La télévision reflet-elle la société?" Which means, if you haven't already guessed, Is the television a reflection of society? Well, I got put on the POUR team (for), against my wishes to argue that "life is unscripted" and such nonsense with the CONTREs (against). However, once I was set to be on one team, I became a raging machine of fury and attempts at making myself understood and blathering and burgle urgle gurgle kind of like in this here sentence. But néanmoins (that should have gone in the CRAZY FRENCH WORDS section, it means nonetheless), as the against team tried to make the original question all convoluted and such by saying "in fact, the society is a reflection of the television, ha ha ha," I managed to get out the fact that if it is a reflection, it doesn't matter who is reflecting the other, they are exactly the same. Then the debate stopped... So yeah, good experiences we should all have. Try debating in another language, it is jolly good fun.

Escalaaadddeeee! So, did I tell you that last trimester we did gymnastics? Well, this semester we are doing... drum roll- indoor rock climbing!! I have to hand it to our school, they have a massively awesome *set* of gymnasiums. Notice that they have more than one... And it seems to be normal, in fact, for a high school to have a bunch of different gyms! Well, here, they have at least one for gymnastics, and one giant one for badminton and rock climbing. The rocke climbing doesn't take up much floor space, just vertical space. There are twelve (or something like that) climbing walls and we are all in groups of three, we switch around climbing, assuring, and checking everything. It is so much fun... Except that at the end of the trimester when you actually get a real grade for how well you do on the final exam-y thing.

Moving right along-- So, today=repas de noel=coolest thing ever=giant feast like lunch for christmas time! Right after gym class, we shimmied on down to the cafeteria, and waited in the much larger than usual line to get food. So normally, French cafeteria food for me is like "OH EMMMMM GEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE," but today, it was like "OH MY GOLLY GOLLY GOSHES LAWD ALMIGHTY I THINK I HAVE DIED AND GONE TO HEAVEN, YALL" based on the amount of food that they offered and its rather better than normal quality. First, a cafeteria lady gave us each a platter thingy with a gold colored liner, a little bread and the choice of coca cola or minute maid. :O Then you got to choose an appetizer, your dessert (ice cream cookie type thingy or other unidentified one), and your yogurt or cheese. And then on top of all that, you got your entree. Hooray! Potatoes and meat. It was cool. And all of the table had tablecloths! Classy! So yeah, pretty much an awesome lunch.

Crazy French WORDSSSS. Actually, I only have one right now. Cause I forgot the one really really long one that I wanted to mention. But this crazy french word is a version of "created." Because sometimes there is an extra s or e is necessary or something like that to agree with the subject that the action is being done to. Anyhow, this word is "créee" Yes. Three e's. Holy buttocks! That's a lot of e's. That rivals the awesomeness of the word bookkeeper. <--- Although that has three doubles, so I think we've got them there. Anyhow, if I remember any other awesome words in the future, I shall be sure to mention them.

Finally, I wanted to talk about dreams. I don't mean dreams as in "I dreamed I had a third arm and three people were pulling on me in different directions" type dream, but as in what I want to accomplish in my life. Pretty much, I have completely different and more numerous dreams than I have ever had before in my life. I feel as though coming here has really expanded my horizons in life, and I would be content doing so many things with the rest of the time I have here. It is a cool feeling. At the same time, there are so many things I now want to do in my life, some of which may not be possible! Alas, "you can't always get what you want. But if you try some times, you may find you get what you need," and I am sure I will eventually!/already have?

Finished...

LOVE!
Carly

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hooray! Three Months and SNOWWWWW


So, good week, guys! It was just a normal old week, but since I enjoy school, it was fun. Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday were the same old thing, except with one difference. There were patches of snowish-type-substance on the ground and I was really excited! Excited because of two main reasons:
I have never lived in a place where it snows before
When it snows "a lot," the buses don't come! Yes, I know you are thinking... Well, that doesn't seem all that great. HOWEVER, here, when the bus doesn't come in the morning, you aren't expected to go to school... Yep.
So all of Wednesday I was hoping hoping hoping that Thursday would bring snow. And it did!! I woke up at the normal time, just in case, and right as I looked out the window I saw a wonderfully white winter wonderland. Everything was covered in a small (but substantial) layer of snow. Hooray! Pia and I decided to stay home, and it was great! I went outside in the morning and just ran around for a while... and then we watched some TC, I did some homework, ate lunch, Pia and I went for a promenade through our little snow covered village, and that' pretty much it. A good day...
Then, Friday we decided it would be best to go to school. I started at nine thirty, luckily, so I had an extra hour of beauty sleep. It was a good day. I only had school from nine thirty to three. And then I had yoga!
Then this weekend, I had a great time with an AFS friend! Jessica came and stayed at my house Saturday/today, and next weekend I shall go to her house so we can go to the AFS walk around Paris together. So yeah, a good week :]

As far as the language goes, I feel so much more confident now, it's great!! I hope I can finish the year without an accent.


yay! A plant in the backyard!


The neighborhood! :]

Monday, November 29, 2010

Music Evolution.... why not. :D

So this week or so has been pretty cool. I went to a foir (fair) one weekend, and I saw HP 7 (AGHHHHH!!!! :D:D:D:D) and went to Rock music only party thingy with Pia the next. School is good. And when I say good, I kinda mean awesome... Like it is a (for the most part) enjoyable challenge.
And guess what!!!!? (inversed interrobang...) Our "conseil de classe" was Friday night. That means that the class representatives got together with our teachers and talked and shiz like that, and they gave out each of our individual "moyennes" or average grades. Yeah, I found it kind of weird, too. You get one grade for everything at the conseil de classe, but at the end of the year you still get a full report card.
*Giant unnecessary brag alert*
So this morning I found out my moyenne. I was super surprised and happy to hear that not only did I have a 12.5 (which is like a B), but also that I was a good one point above the rest of the class... the average for the class was 10.94... And I was graded in all of my classes except for SES(Economics) and French. In addition, you also get a little side note from the teachers and out of all thirty people, 3 were given the highest one, "Felicitations!" (Congratulations!) And to my surprise, I got that as well. :) Bear in mind I definitely didn't have the third best grade in the class, but I think the teachers took into account the language barrier. XD So anyhow, whoa... Needless to say, I was pretty proud of myself today. However, I didn't go around shouting it out like am doing right now. I kept it confined to my little brain and just smiled throughout the day. And then, in my last class of the day, we got back our math tests... and to just top off the already great "journée," I had received a 17.7! Hoowayyy :) Ok I shall shut up now and get back to stuff that is pertinent.
As well as giving out grades, the representatives also give us a little summary of what they all talked about. It was interesting enough and killed some class time, so hooray :). At that same time we also got our school photo forms. There isn't a legitimate yearbook here, but if you want you can purchase a kind of class yearbook, which just contains you and your classmates. I am totally buying it. It is the closest I will get to its American counterpart. :P I was surprisingly satisfied with my photo, and the class photo is the funniest thing you have ever seen. I think me and two other people are actually smiling. It kind of makes me wonder if I wasn't supposed to smile.. D: But my French teacher's and Falfi's and Tommy's faces just make me feel the need to own that awkward photo... hehehe.
So yup... that was all for today.

Anyhow, moving on to random things I have noticed lately or forgotten to mention:
-You can overpass school buses in your car here. :O
-Sirens sound different
-Their school bell is ten seconds of blaring hellish noise
-There was a snow like substance on the ground today in patches, so HOORAY!
-Uhh... I have cold, to put it in the french form.

But I guess I should explain why I called this post "Music Evolution."
Well, I was thinking last night about the fact that I have had some very distinct phases of music listening while being in France. And i think if you go ahead and think a little deeper after reading it, you will kinda understand.

First month:
At the very beginning it was kind of a mélange of everything. But there was some Muse, some Cranberries, and a bunch of random playlists I made over this summer.
Then it morphed into A LOT of Sara Bareilles: Not happy chappy Sara Bareilles, but stuff like "City" and "Between the Lines" and "Winter Song." Especially "Winter Song." Hehe... look up the lyrics.
Started listening to Radiohead. Mostly just "Karma Police" and "Let Down"

A little bit after that:
RADIOHEADDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD.
OK Computer (Album), to be precise. And The Bends. Both really good music to just put on and get absorbed in, given you like that type of music.
Sara Bareilles slowly withering away.
Very small phase of James Taylor. :( Not good to listen to when you are thinking of home, but he's so good. :/

The past two weeks:
I still listen to Sara Bareilles and Radiohead when I feel like it, and still really appreciate their music and songs, but I have also started a new phase.
COLDPLAY! :D
Coldplay is great. Their music is wonderful and they have so many different types of songs. So it isn't only their marvelous first album, Parachutes, but also their other, more upbeat stuff.

So yeah. I don't know if that was interesting at all, but there you go.

And that is all I've got for now.
-CARLY!

P.S. If you have any sort of topic you would like to know about or read about on a daily basis, feel free to chime in on the comments section.

So I have heard that the comment thingy is kinda a hassle... so, without further ado, I presnt to you "Carly Houk's How to use the comments section": Click on the button below the post that say "___ comments," Type your note in the comment box, choose a profile (meaning you have to have one of the profiles they have in the dropdown box) Click post. Now you will be refreshed onto the same page with one of the robot-detector thingies (That means the word that they tell you to type). Type in the word, and then click post again. Now you should see your comment. Hooray! :D I hope that works. If it doesn't, I would say leave a comment, but you can't. So, well, can't help you there... *Awkward face*

Edit~ I totally forgot to mention thanksgiving! Well, I guess that is because it isn't celebrated here... teehee... (Did you know that the french expression for dotdotdot- real word for that by the way is ellipses- is "trois petits points" hehe. Three little points.) But anywhow, I made popovers, but that was it. :) A very different thanksgiving indeed.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

So, Pretty Much... continued

So, once we finished shopping, we quickly dined at a very Parisien Corner Cafe/Bistro situation, and I got my first croque-madame in France. It was a success (By the way, a croque-madame is two pieces of toast grilled with French cheese on them, with an egg on top, and ham in the middle. A croque-monsieur is minus the egg.) So after that was done, Pia and I went early to the theater because our seats were different from the others. As we got there, we noticed it was packed! It was really a cool experience seeing a broadway show in another country. :D Anyhow, we moved along the line of people, got our tickets validated, and started up the stairs to the very very top. And then, Top Chef got thrown into the mix... As we were standing in another crowd of people, we noticed that there was a sign with the little M6 logo on the top (M6 is a French TV station). Pia read it, and it said that they were filming Top Chef: France just before the entryway to the top floor. We kinda didn't pay attention to it. But as we neared the entryway, we noticed a bunch of cameras and people. And they were literally filming Top Chef right there!! It was one of those competitions to make a bunch of hors d'oeuvres for a cocktail party or something. I even saw one of the chefs!!!!! Being the American Top Chef lover I am, I kinda flipped out. Then we continued to our seats and kinda sat there in awe of what just happened. I know it sounds stupid, but ti was exciting. Pia texted about half of the world's population and I was just sitting there thinking about how lucky we were to have chosen that date. We settled down as the musical started, and it was a great show. And EVERYTHING was in French! :) Even the songs... I couldn't help singing along in my mind with the English lyrics, too. When it finally finished it wasn't just over, though. There were two encores, and when I finally thought it would be over, they performed a last one, Waterloo, and in English! Meanwhile cameras came out onto the stage and were filming the dancers and singers. Slightly suspicious... Finally, at the end of that, a man came out onto the stage and everybody started cheering. I didn't know who he was at first, but it turns out he was the host of French Top Chef! He talked to us, and then we got a little glimpse into the episode. :D Altogether, it was a very exciting night...
On the way back home (At midnight), we all sang along to the songs in English in the car. And then I slept very very very well.
After that, Thursday came and went, and then Friday arrived! School was very easy that day, with me starting at nine and ending at three. And to top it off, we ended the day with our first class of Yoga. It was very fun, and I will be doing it every Friday until June from now on!
And now I will send you off by saying Happy almost Thanksgiving!!! I hope that I can celebrate it somehow...

Friday, November 19, 2010

So, Pretty Much

This week has been a good one :). The weekend was a little uneventful, but after the school week began it was fun again. And I realized that this might be one of the only times that I have ever in my life actually ENJOYED school. Like, LOVED school. Ok, maybe love is a little strong, but after the twenty minutes of tiredness wears off in the morning, I am all good, and it is generally a fun day. So Monday and Tuesday went as they usually do, Tuesday I almost missed my bus (grrr...) on the way back from school, but it ended up being ok... after a little running. ;) And then there is Wednesday.

Wednesday... how do I describe my love for Wednesday. On top of the already awesome half-day thing, this Wednesday in particular was quite special. Let's see, what is a good way to phrase it? Well, if you don't like Paris shopping, Mamma Mia, and Top Chef, it would have been your nightmare (cauchemard en francais...). It started out with Claude, Pia, and two friends of the family piling i the car and driving up (down) to Paris after lunch. During about half of the one hour drive, I took a nap (sieste en francais), waking up to see the 5 or 6th arrondisement. The very cliché Paris view. Actually, to put it into a very very accessible form, think of Ratatouille. The scene in which Remy is running witht he papers along the Seine, with the little roads on either side of him... and that is exactly what I was seeing. The Eiffel Tower off in the distance, the awesome Inception bridge in the middle ground, and yeah... It was a good place to wake up to. :D Then we continued along and parked in a parking garage. From there we walked around the eighth arrondisement, which is the neighborhood with all of the big big big stores (Cough cough... since I know you are reading this Gaby... I think you would like it there... a lot. :) ). Including, but not limited to (I feel legit saying that) Les Galaries Lafayette, Printemps (which I hadn't heard of but is a really big chain in France kind of like a even more high end Neiman-Marcus, cause it has stuff like Chanel and Dior and Louis Vuitton [Yes this is a parentheses within parentheses, but I ave to mention that they are obsessed with Louis Vuitton here.], and all of the stores are like a block long :P ) Two giant H+M s, and a plethora of other delightful boutiques and stuff like that. I bought a cute little chemise at H+M, but that was all for shopping for me. :D It was great just to see everything, though. Especially since they are all starting to get set up for Christmas, and therefore there were tons of lights and stuff.
~Let me just tell you this: Paris at Christmastime IS MAGICAL. I don't care how overused that is, but it is true.~
I am really tired now, so the rest of the post will come in a separate part :D Sorry!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Everything's Great Over Here :D

So, not much to say..... School is going fairly well- I am attempting to slog through a French literature book. : | That is an interesting process. Not much progress, but I am DETERMINED. I SHALL conquer the French language and all its funky verb tenses that I was unaware existed... Like when did fut become a derivation of etre???!!! Sorry, I just had to mention that one. Dismiss it if you don't understand. It isn't important. XD All my other classes are coming along, and I am really liking the French grading system. I have probably already said this, but it is all out of twenty, and 12 is good, and 16 and above I think is great. 8 and below is kinda cruddy, but at the same time, I don't know... It just seems like a better system.
I want to join some sort of something outside of school... and Pia wants to do Yoga, so we are planning on getting into that sometime soon! Hopefully it works well in combatting weight gain. As in delicious baguette/nutella induced... Enough said.
As did the people in the United States, we also got a day off today :D:D It was a great great great day. The morning was relaxed, the afternoon was filled with bonding (And bad weather), and the evening has been taken up by being able to talk to my mom, making one of my favorite American comfort foods, and a fire in the fireplace. Aww, so cozy. Also some trying to teach Pia piano. XD Totally not a certified piano teacher... It's all in good fun, right? :) And last but not least, FRENCH HOMEWORK :D:D:D So great! (Now would be a good time to find out how to express irony in writing... Oh, I remember!) *Bangs head on wall* But now it's time for some precious "dodo" (French slang for sleep... yes I know it sounds like something other than that...) before school starts bright and early tomorrow. Good night moon, good night stars. ;)
-Carly

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Oh, right, that blog..... :D



The photo is of the strike in Paris!
I apologize for completely forgetting about blogging for the past two weeks! I was a lucky duck, and smack dab in the middle of October (Actually the end, but we'll let it slide for the sake of a better sounding sentence), I had a one and a half week vacation. It was a very good vacation! I shall split it up into two parts:
Royan
and
Noirmoutier

So basically, both of these spots that I visited with my host family are on the West coast of France, both next to the sea, but they could not have been more different!

Royan is a seaside town with a very calm and relaxed feel to it. There are TONS of restaurants along the beaches and a lot of picturesque places to discover. I took so many photos! The four days we were there was mostly made up of promenades along the sand and relaxing around the house. It was wonderful!

Noirmoutier was equally great, but in a different way! It is an island right near Bordeaux, and all in all is only 12 kilometers long... :D It is mainly known for its salt (Yes, there is lots of salt cultivation there, and I got a couple pretty detailed explanations of the process :) ) and its seafood! We took some more walks around the island, on beaches and such, but it has a completely different feel than Royan. It is almost like you are in the countryside, but it is right next to the sea... So kind of an odd meld. We stayed with Claude's sister's family, so I got some time to bond with my host cousins and that was great, too!

After that, we took the five and a half hour drive home on Monday the 2nd. Which left us with two days left for vacation. Tuesday was a I'mgoingtoloungearoundalldayanddobasicallynothing day, and it was greatly needed :D

And then there was Wednesday!!!!!!! I took the train with Claude to Paris to visit my AFS contact person. It was my first train ride here. I loved it. I didn't have my iPod, but I was perfectly content to just sit there for the hour and think about things while staring off into the beutiful French "paysage" with trees of all different colors and houses splotching the green hills. It was relaxing and beautiful. Then I met with my contact person, had a nice lunch at a place called "flam's," a restaurant that serves a specialty from Alsace. Lunch was delicious, as always, and then we met back up with Claude. Since we were in the area, we went and looked at all of the large "galaries," which were amazing but beaucoup trop cher..... My favorite part was in the Galaries Lafayette, when we walked out into the center and there was the giant christmas tree and decorations and beautiful stained glass and many stories.... (Only the ultimate run-on sentence can describe the awesomeness :D ) I will put up a photo! And then I saw the Opera house, we went into a couple other stores, and I took the train ride home feeling satisfied and exhausted, which seems to happen every time I go to Paris :):):) .

Today was the first day of school back from vacation... but, it is a Thursday!!! So I just have Friday and then hopefully yet another exciting weekend!

As far as the language goes, I have noticed enormous improvement since the last time I kind of "self-checked" how it was going. I base that off of the fact that I could actually understand what my P.E. teacher was saying today, and the fact that when I took the quiz for "Sciences Vie Terre," I had no real idea what I was doing, but I could understand the questions, so I pretty much was able to fake my way through it I think... (Good habits, I know) By this time next month, I hope I will be able to understand everything!

And yet another abrupt finish to yet another ramble-full and ridiculous blog entry. Hoooray!

A BIENTOT
(Now you know how to say see you soon in French... or at least the equivalent kind of thingy)

-Carly

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More about School and Strikes!

So, I will start out talking about the greves that have been going on (strikes). Right now, the main idea behind the strikes is that Nicolas Sarkozy, the president of France, wants to raise the retirement age to 67 or 69, and the people do not agree with that. I am not quite sure what side I am really on with the politics aspect of the strikes, but last Friday, there was what is called a "blocus," in which the students blockade the entry way to the school. There was then going to be a march down to the town hall made up of a bunch of students. My friends and I decided that since we only had three hours of classes that day anyway, we were going to participate. :D It was a very very interesting experience. We all got into a bunch and slowly but surely made our way down the streets of Vernon to the town hall, making a bunch of noise along the way. When we got there the mayor came out and spoke to us for a while, which along with the noise and it being in French, I couldn't really understand... But it was satisfying... then it was finished at about 11 30, and my friends and I got food downtown and then I went home. Altogether is was a good experience. :D

But students aren't the only ones striking in France right now! There have been plenty of national strikes lately, and since it is for the retirement age, literally anybody can skip work and say that they are on strike, be it a bus driver, a student, a waiter, anyone. Because on the days that there are organized and very large strikes, it is highly possible that it will be difficult to get around via public transportation. It's better if you don't really have anything planned on those days :D

But last weekend, we had decided that we were going to go to Paris, and Saturday there was a big manifestation planned in the Bastille section. As we walked through the 11th arrondisement of the city, you could here the echos of shouting and chants from far away. To tell you the truth, it was a really eerie experience. The small manifestation at my school didn't compare at all to this. There were thousands of people all lined up, all with different organizations, marching through the streets of Paris. For someone not used to this kind of thing, it felt almost apocalyptic in a sense. One group marched with red flags shouting "Resistance! Resistance!" Others blasted loud music and sang chants and songs about reform. Altogether, it made me rethink my prior thoughts about greves. They aren't just for fun, like it is made out to be at the lycée. They can be scary, and they can get violent. For example, with us at the school, there was a line of police officers around us at all times, but there were only about 10, and one car. In Paris, there were police officers with batons, helmets, and the plastic guard/shield things, almost like the SWAT team. We even saw one avid protester get taken away by members of the police force. Yeah, it wasn't all fun and games on Saturday.

And the greves are still continuing, all throughout France this week and most likely next week, too. It is really fascinating to me that there is so much manifesting here. That just doesn't seem to happen in the US. I know we have little strikes or boycotts occasionally, but nothing compared to the organization and level of strikes here in France. I mean, this week wasn't my first experience with greves... in a month and a half, there have been about four. :/ So yeah, they are pretty popular here.

But because this week has been largely made up of a bunch of greves, my school schedule has been pretty relaxing. Lots of my teachers aren't there and I get time to hang out with friends and/or go home early. For example, this week I had school on Tuesday from 8 30 to 11 30, and then I was finished, although I stayed at school for a while. Today, Wednesday, I started school at 10 30 and finished at 12 30. :D Now I have a relaxing Wednesday afternoon to look forward to :). Tomorrow will be pretty much normal, starting at 8 30 and ending at 4 00 in the afternoon. And finally Friday... through an odd set of circumstances, I start at 8 30 and have class until 10 30, so les vacances commence at 10 30 for me! I am so excited!
One thing I find interesting is that they have vacation in October here. I think it is a great idea! :D:D In France they understand that school needs to be split up with lots of vacations... here is the school's schedule:

October vacation: 1 and a half weeks
December vacation: 2 weeks
February vacation: 2 weeks
April vacation: 2 weeks

Basically every two months of school, you get two weeks of vacation ^^ Yay!

Apart from graves and school, My host family is great and I have been getting more and more used to life here everyday. :D

That's all for now!

Sincerely,
Carly

Monday, October 11, 2010

Quick Update!!

I'm sorry I have been half-heartedly blogging lately, but time is going by so quickly now. The choir wasn't for me, I don't think, but it was fun to sing, anyways!

At school I am able to understand a little more than half of what the teachers say, except my French teacher (Still can't understand him...), and I am actively taking part in the quizzes and homework, although they are very difficult. :P

But although I have been getting into a daily rhythm, the beauty all around me never ceases to amaze me. It's like each time I ride the bus or walk around the village is the first time I am experiencing it. I have to take more photos! Ok, I promise I will take photos tomorrow (if the weather treats us right; it is Normandy after all...). And maybe I will get my act together and upload all of my stuff to flickr...

Anyhow, changing the topic, apart from school and the language, life is going well! One thing I have noticed is how much more I have been writing lately. Before I came to france I had journals off and on for about five years, but they generally only lasted for a month at a time. Now I am journaling religiously everyday, and I think it will be good to look back at in the future.

And as a last little note, I just want to mention this; I think I am actually starting to feel a little bit proud of myself (le gasp!). I mean, a month ago I was a mental wreck, although I tried not to let it show. And now, I am able to stop, smell the fresh air, and enjoy life. And it's already been a month and a half?! How did that happen? Well, I'll be going now, but right after I ask this one question:

What do you consider "home?" Being here has really made me think about that a lot more. If you feel like answering the rhetorical question, feel free to leave a comment (oh, jeez, now I feel like I am an avid youtuber vying for comments on my videos DX). I think it would be interesting to see what everyone else thinks. :D

Salut!
Carly

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Harmony!

Wow, things are getting so much better around here! I don't have much time, because I have to go to sleep early tonight, but I want to mention a couple of things:

First of all, I am starting to realize that I slowly but surely have actually changed over the course of this month, and it is kind of weird to think about. :P

And secondly, I am going to sit in at a choir rehearsal tomorrow night!! My happiness is indescribable! I can't remember the last time I harmonized with somebody or sang with a big group... I think it was July. D: So I am excited.

That's all for now, time for sleep!

Carly

Friday, October 1, 2010

Ok!

Things really have started to become routine here. Each day I either take the bus to school or get driven, and after my courses I return home, do a little bit of homework, journal a little bit, hang out with Pia and/or watch some TV with Claude, eat dinner, and eventually go to sleep. It's really nice that it's all starting to get easier. A couple weeks ago I was having a ton of trouble communicating, understanding, and living like a normal person. Now, on the day of my one month mark, I can officially say that I have become accustomed to living in France.

School is good, although I am deciding whether or not to move up to Première. It's a really hard choice for me to make. Most of my classes are getting easier and easier to understand, except French class. It's terrible.... But anyhow!

Even though it is getting plus facile every day, sometimes it is really hard to be in between languages. Sometimes it is a little trying to not be able to fully express myself. And sometimes the feeling of mental isolation is pretty hard to bear, but I am getting through it! I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and that I won't be stuck in this state of not being able to talk and listen perfectly forever. So I will just keep on trucking, and take it one day at a time!

On another note, I can't believe that it has already been one month. !!!!! It boggles my mind. It's the longest I have ever been away from my family before. I feel accomplished and a little freaked out. There are so many things that I want to try and experience, and not so much time! But for now, I am out of things to say. Well, not really, but it is hard to organize my thoughts at the moment, so yeah... Au revoir!

-Carly

PS I started reading The Golden Compass in French. It is hard, but I think it will help me! :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

More Random Cultural Differences that Haven't Made it into Blog Posts!

Well, I have realized that there are so many things that are different between living here and living back in the states that I have kind of expected that it is obvious to everyone. So here are some cultural differences that I have noticed and not really mentioned:
-Meals last a lot longer here. About Forty five minutes to an hour for lunch and dinner, and there is more of a variety of things to eat :)
-School is completely and totally flipped-upside-down-opposite of school in the U.S. The schedule, timing, classes, and also the fact that I have at least an hour and a half for lunch each day, and the cafeteria food is like a feast. Also, they don't have substitute teachers. If a teacher isn't there, you don't go to school. And they have lots of strikes. There is one today!
-People seem to be less pressed for time here. I don't know if it is because they work less or what, but time passes kind of slowly, and it is relaxing for the most part.
-Fashion is a huge thing for teenagers. Everybody dresses well for school, and sometimes the fashion leads to tons of people having the same coats, shoes, or bags. It's good and bad. Sometimes I miss the carefree-ness of what you where in the U.S., but it is fun to go shopping with people who are passionate about it... :D
-The cars are all tinier, and bounce around a little bit on the road.
-This isn't really a cultural difference, but the other day, the road was blocked when I was being driven to school, and we had to take a thirty minute tour around the countryside to get into Vernon (The town I go to school in). It was immensely beautiful and I want to go back to take some pictures.
-Vernon's roads are very tight, and the shops are all packed together. The buildings are very old, and there are plenty of churches. It's the kind of place that has a truly different feel from the U.S.

And that is all I can think of for now!!!

-Carly
(It's really hard for me to pronounce my name in French)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

School!!!!!!!!

It's been a while since my last post, but I have a good excuse! I have started school! And it takes up a lot of time... Monday thru thursday generally from about 8:30 to 5:00 each day. Except Wednesdays. We get out at 12:30! :] Some people have school on Saturday mornings, but j'ai de la chance. ;)
The school system is a lot different in France, so I'm going to give you a crash course:

L'école primaire is our elementary school. It's from 6 to 11 years.

Next, we have collège. Which isn't college, but middle school. Yay. It's four years, unlike our middle school, and is split up into 6th grade, 5th grade, 4th grade, and 3rd grade, in that order. You finish collège in the equivalent of ninth grade.

Then there is lycée, which is like high school. Except for it is only three years and they are called seconde (sophomore year), première (junior year), and terminale (senior year).

Also, at the end of lycée, one has to pass a giant test called the baccalauréat to get into université.

So yeah, that's about it.

So last Saturday, Claude, Manon, and I went to the lycée to ask them if they had gotten all my papers sorted out yet. And they had!! But to my surprise... I was going to be a sophomore again... :[ Eh, whatever, the classes would be easier and I wouldn't have a giant test at the end of the year.

Well, then on Sunday I enjoyed my last day of freedom by going to Paris with Claude and Manon. It was epic! We strolled down the Champs Elysées and went in a couple of stores (including a giant overly-priced roxy store). I enjoyed it thoroughly. And then I came back, had dinner, and slept.

Ok, onto the first week of school. I guess if I had to sum it all up in one word, I would use overwhelming. The worst day was Tuesday, because I had classes from 8:30 to 6:00 pm :O. And the best day was Yesterday, friday, because I got a new English teacher who is awesome, and I got out at three o'clock, which is quite uncommon... But altogether, it was very hard and I understand very little. I don't think it would be easy for me to tell you my schedule, because it is really confusing and different from the schedule I had in the United States last year, but I will list all of my classes. Here you go:

1. The first class I went to was History, with a very very nice teacher called Madame Thepin. She was very helpful. :)
2. Then I had SES, which is pretty much an economics course, and it was OK. At least I understood some of it...
3. I had a very short day Monday, with a lot of waiting, but the next day I started right off the bat with my hardest class, Français.... dun dun dun. The teacher, well, I won't go into the details.
4. Then I had Math with a nice teacher, and it was actually kind of easy, cause I have already done what they were learning.
5. Then I had my first class of English... well, I hated it. But the next time I had English, my teacher changed! Whoopee!!!!! Now I have a teacher that is British, and quite funny. She makes the class interesting and kind of reminds me of Mrs. Lewycky or something... the type of teacher you can be friends with :)
6. Then I had Espagnolllll. Interesting, indeed. We'll see if I end up learning any spanish or just being confused. But I like the teacher. Yes, she is a little quirky and reminds me of Maya Angelou, but she seems to be very passionate about Spanish...
7.Then I had science, that was good, and I am starting to like the teacher more because she tries to help me learn French.
8. Next I had MPS, which is basically real world applications of science. Who knows, it might actually make me enjoy science.
9. So that completed my Tuesday, and Wednesday was made up completely of repeats. But Thursday, I got a new class. ECJS. I seriously have no idea what this class is about, cause it was held entirely in the library and we just filled up a sheet about library rules and stuff... Also, I have no idea what ECJS stands for. But the teacher is Thepin!! yay!
10. My final class is sciences vie terre. Something about earth science. It's ok. At least she uses powerpoints to lecture, so I can actually comprehend what's going on!

Wow, that was kinda long... But that was my week. I made some friends and it was a good experience, but I hope this week I will understand more next week!

One thing I did find was very interesting about French school is that you get assigned a "class," and that's the group of people you will have classes with for the entire year. So pretty much, you go to all of your classes with those people, and you don't have to ever be alone if you don't want to, if that makes any sense....? It's different from school in the States because I barely ever have classes with my friends there, and here, it's the opposite. Ok, sorry, that was horribly stated.

And I guess that's it for now. This weekend we're going to Versailles and I think that's it. Cool. Bye!!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

More Random Things!

Well, I haven't really said much about my host family and town yet because the last time I blogged I was tired and didn't want to take up the computer, but since school doesn't start for me until semaine prochaine (?), I acvtually have free time!!! It's this wonderful thing in which my brain doesn't feel absurdly overwhelmed with French and I can relax. So as I am sitting at the computer with Milo (the kitten) perched on my shoulder, I find that I have a lot to say. However, how can I put everything into words? I don't know, but here is my attempt.

Pressagny L'Orgueilleux is one of the most beautiful little villages I have ever seen. You can take a five minute walk to the Seine, look at cows from across the river, and hear the train from far away. All the houses are made out of stone, and the lots are quite big compared to the semi-suburban life I am used to. The town seems to be host to lots of cats, which is quite familiar to me, but just this morning I saw two different cats at the same time lounging about in the backyard, neither of which were from our house...
The closest city is Vernon, about ten minutes away by car. It is smaller than my home town, about 20 thousand people, but it seems bigger because it is more compact (Sorry if that doesn't make sense). I have gone with Manon and Claude a couple of times to faire des courses (grocery shopping), and I enjoyed it immensely! There are so many difference between the US and France.
Pia and Manon are so nice! They both seem to share a lot of similarities with me: music, movies, Harry Potter, all that. And Claude and Eric are fantastic host parents.
I LOVE FOOD. Breakfast isn't a big deal here, but lunch and dinner are very awesome. Everyone sets the table, and we have a main course and then generally yogurt and or cheese/fruit. All the food is delicious, and I don't pass up any oppurtunity to eat (Well I almost did last night because of tiredness, but I woke up just in time). I have a newfound adoration for yogurt, too.


Language (La langue):
As far as my French goes, I haven't found that there is much of a difference in my understanding or my speaking, but I can say I am quite accustomed to people speaking in French to me. I'm used to the first thing coming out of my mouth being French, and hearing only French as well. This doesn't mean that I can easily comprehend what is being said, though. :) I expect that when I start school next week, my ability to understand that which is being said will grow immensely. But moving on,

School (L'école):
Although I haven't been to school all by myself yet, yesterday, Pia took me with her so I could see what French school is like. Two words: long and confusing. All in all, Pia had nine hours of education that day, and I understood about five minutes worth of conversation. First she had two hours of Philosophie, which I enjoyed, but understood none of; then she had an hour of math, which I might have been able to understaqnd if I knew the concept; then she had lunch, which needs no comprehending; next Allemand (German), which, since I have no prior knowledge of German, was completely baffling; then another hour of philosophie, better than the first, but still impossible; and finally, an hour of history, in which the teacher spoke at 150 kilometres per minute, and I understood none but these words it seemed: La grande Alliance, Chine, Mao Ze Dong, and Puissance Mondiales. I think history will be a good subject for me, though.

0th3r 0b$cuRit!es
I have noticed that just as much English music seems to be played on the radio as French music.
I had real Petit Fours two days ago!
Milo is a cuddly kitten.
Our town is very close to Giverny, Claude Monet's town, and it is gorgeous.
The French's coca cola in the bottle has sugar!!!
I love these little pancake thingys called Blinis.
Maybe it's just me, but French ice cream tastes different!
Churches everywhere...
Everyone does seem to be a little bit more fashion concious here...

Well, that's all for now!!!

Mon Adresse:
1 Rue Harel
27510 Pressagny L'Orgueilleux, France

Au Revoir...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

#32 Enjoy the Little Things

As a great movie once stated, you must enjoy the little things when sudden change is thrust upon you. Although moving to France for a year is not quite the same as an apocalyptic flesh-eating situation, I do think that it is important to relish the little things that happen every day. Like the fact that a baguette is purchased chaque jour. And that all the houses seem to be made out of stone. And that my accent is a failure as of now. All of these things make up what I now call my life... But hold on, I am getting ahead of myself. Before I delve into the various nuances I have already semi-grown accustomed to in the French culture, I will explain more about my journey.

On Tuesday, the 31st of August, I had my friends and Aunt and Uncle over for dinner. We had tacos and some other mexican food, because I expect that it will be hard to find Mexican food as good as what we have in California, in France..... no offense to the French. We said goodbye for about thirty minutes and it ended in tears.... :( Then my parents took me to the airport and that ended in tears... :( I got on a red eye to JFK and rode a plane knowing that I wouldn't set foot on San Jose or Los Gatos ground again for ten months. It was weird. I got to JFK early (seven o clock) in the morning and met with another AFSer to get to the hotel. We were some of the only people that were there because check in started at one PM. After waiting in the lobby for six hours, I got my room. Hooray!! My roommate was very nice. Her name is Lithia, and she is from New York State, near the town with the amazing name, Poughkeepsie (I think that is how it is spelled?). Then we had some activities and blah blah blah. Then I got my host family! A family of four living near Vernon in Normandie. Claude, Eric, Pia, et Manon. Well, then the next day we did some more activities and tooka red-eye to Paris. It was a tiring trip, but fun at the same time. I met some more cool people, and we went to the hostel via bus. We didn't do much the first day, but the second day we saw some of Paris (!!) and the tour eiffel (!!!!). Then some more activities as our nervousness grew. The next morning, we had activities for about an hour and a half, and then everyone went their separate ways by train. However, some of us were close enough to be picked up. We all went into a room where the host families had been talking and had to introduce ourselves one by one and then go greet our host families. It was scary, but so much fun!! Then we all split off and drove home. It was a fun car ride. We chatted and talked a lot, and then we got to the petite village of Pressagny L'Orgueuilleux. It is beautiful!! I was supposed to go to school the day after I got there, but the principal hadn't yet looked at my papers... so I am at home for now! I have been sleeping and playing with their kitten a lot. And enjoying all the little things that make france different from the US. But I havee written so much it is time to go...... sorry that this is a very abrupt ending, but I don't want to take up their computer for too long, so I shall be going.

Monday, August 30, 2010

That's All, Folks

For now... at least.

My last day in the country until July 10, 2011 is tomorrow! I leave Tuesday on a red-eye to NY because we "West-Coast kids" have no other way of getting to NY by 1:00 PM on the 1st with a three hour time change. From this, a problem has arisen. I get into JFK at 7:00 AM. AFS volunteers arrive at noon. Uh-oh. I guess we'll wait and see how that goes.

On another note, I am finished packing except for a photo album or two that will go in my carry-on. My suitcase is 41.6 pounds out of a 44 pound limit..... living on the edge. :O I have lots of host family gifts because I think I will have a welcome family... but boy, is it hard to buy gifts for a bunch of unidentified people. If I end up with a single parent, they will be showered with Californian/American gifties.

Another random thought:
Everybody went back to school today. It doesn't feel like my summer's ending, though. I'm ready for adventure! But isn't it weird to think that whereas there are plenty of other people in my situation right now, waiting to go on to the next chapter of their lives, whether it be college or studying abroad or starting a job, some people are just starting to grow up? There is an elementary school right near my house, and right now there are tons of cars driving back and forth picking up their kids. Some of those parents might have just picked up their children from their very first day at school. It's weird how fast time moves. I remember kindergarten. Anyhow--

I found the list of things I will miss. So here it is!!!
The Los Gatos city limit sign posted on a small side street off of a large one.
The paint near Fisher Middle School with all of our names in it. After three years, it's still there!
The ability to take the wrong bus and still end up walking distance of my house.
The front lawn of my High School, LGHS
Pink Flamingoes!
Those moments in fall when I get out of school and walk down to my bike while watching the field hockey scrimmages and football practices, feeling like the quintessential American teenager at the quintessential American high school-- in a good way.
The English language
English class
Getting to talk with our neighbor's exchange student...
Taking night walks and only being scared of whether a zombie will come jumping out of the nearest bush.
The "Almost Summer" sign that is up next to the health/driver's ed classroom. It never goes down.
The dude I just saw wearing a USA colored fanny pack.
Walking to downtown Los Gatos so easily with friends.
Powell's Sweet Shoppe
Babysitting!
Velociraptor jam sessions.
Being so close to my family, neighbors, and friends.
How the three aforementioned groups have become the same group throughout the past 12 years of having lived here.

Now all I have to do is say goodbyes. This is the hard part for me. Getting mushy and gushy. Darn.

So long, USA. Hello, France!

Sincerely,
Carly

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

OH MY GOODNESS

I just realized that I totally forgot to mention the generous donors that gave to the chipin widget before it closed!

A heartfelt thank you to:

Susan and Lynn and Garrett and Olivia Woodford-Berry

Jim and Elizabeth and Isabel and Elena and Joe Chadwick

Peggy and Alan Spool

and

Randy Houk

Love love love! :D

Everything That Has Been Neglected

Dear Anyone who chances to look upon his page....
Well, first of all I sincerely apologize for the lack of updates in the past couple of months/ weeks/I can't really keep track of time anymore... But moving right along--

Current Visa status: OBTAINED
Woohoo! On August second we went to the consulate and everything went perfectly fine. They were very.... hmmm... what's the word? Kind of cold, but not really mean, just unemotional. Well, it may come to me later. It was very easy, though, and less than a week later we got my passport with a fancy little page included just for France. Hip hip hooray! :D

Current Host Family Status: Nonexistent... :|
I don't really have anything to say about this, except I would like to give a shout out to the French world and say "I'm not really as bad as you think I am! Please, pick me...!" I chalk it up to my lack of a good host family letter and the fact that almost everything about me is different than it was 11 months ago, when I started the process. Go figure, I have changed even before the program has begun. But all in all, I don't really mind the absence of family. I trust AFS and I know I won't be thrown out on the streets at any point, so it's all good. I do feel slightly sorry for my mom, though, because if I do get a welcome (temporary) family, she won't know the details until I actually call her the first time from France. I expect it will go smoothly, however. One thing I wish I did have control over at the moment is my courses that I will be taking at school... The "L" track is what I am aiming for; it seems the most suited for me while also allowing me to learn the most French. But, whoooaa! I just realized that there is a possibility that I will not even be in the grade level in which you split into tracks. Holy crap. The possibilities are endless..... Ok, well now that that ramble has gone on for a while, I think I'll change the topic.

Current Packing Status: SEMI-DONE
If you call having gone shopping this summer every chance I could get packing. I rarely go to the mall during the school year, and I hear that clothes are more expensive in France, so all of the shopping will be quite beneficial over the long-run. As far as the actual packing itself goes, I have written a list. Does that count for packing? All I know is that it'll get done eventually, but right now, the important things are saying goodbye to people and spending as much time as I can with my family. Therefore, let us transition into the next topic--

Current Saying Goodbye Status: I don't really know.
It's been kind of weird. I have kind of forgotten almost to say goodbye to people. I'll see them, and I just think, "oh, I'll probably hang out with him/her next week." In some cases, it might actually be the last time I'll see them... It's a weird concept. And some of them it won't just be for the year. A lot of people will be at college or beyond. It's really weird having such a crucial year kind of chunked out of your life. So now I'm trying to mention how much I'll miss my close friends and family members next year as much as possible because the truth is, I only have 14 days left in the country... Anyhow, let's get onto a brighter topic.

I've decided how to lay out my blog once I'm in France! Right now, if you haven't noticed, it's kind of random. :):D:P But once I get to France, I am going to divide each post into three different sections: Language, School, and Culture. Of course I'll also say anything at the end that needs to be pointed out, but that'll pretty much be it. I think it will make it a little easier for me.

And finally (Last thing I'll say, I promise), I want to add that this whole year I have been making a list of things I will miss, and my next post, probably about two weeks from now, I will put it up.

Au Revoir,
Carly

Thursday, July 22, 2010

ONE MONTH?

Well, I guess I can officially say that I have about one month before I am going to France... Here's what's been happening lately:
-The visa process has been going well, and my appointment with the consulate is in mid August!
-I still have no host family, and that's a bit depressing... I have reason to believe that I will be getting a welcome family.
-I just had my country conference call! It was pretty helpful.
-Well, I didn't mention this before, but my family is hosting a three week french exchange student right now. It has given me a lot of insight as to what it will be like when I first arrive in France...

That's about it for now. As soon as I get my host family I will tell everyone!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Change Again....

Sorry if my constant template changing has been confusing. I've decided to stick with this one! That's about all I have to say right now. Still no host family.... but maybe soon!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Time is Flying By......

Wow! One week left of school! After this Thursday at 12:00 noon, I won't attend a class at LGHS for a year and three months. It's so exciting!
By the way, My birthday is in August, so even though this is way in advance, if you are at a loss as to what to get me, a good 'ol chipin donation would be fantasmicable!
I can't wait for France!!!!
-Carly

Also, if you like or don't like this newfangled layout, leave a comment below! I'm still trying to figure it out...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thank You!

Thank you to the Rothchilds for your generous donation! I couldn't do it without you!

P.S. I am told who has donated at the end of each month. So if you have donated but haven't been acknowledged, it's because of that! Thanks again!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Mass Email Fun!

This is the email that I sent out to all of my family and friends! just in case, I have put it up here, too.

Hello!
If you don't already know me, my name is Carly Houk and I am going to spend my junior year in high school in France through the foreign exchange program AFS.
If you read on, I explain who I am, why I have chosen to partake in this journey, how you can help me get there, or simply follow my adventure!

Here is a little bit about me:

* I attend Los Gatos High School and I am currently a sophomore.
* I am in French 3, and have studied the language since 7th grade
* I love singing and art and all languages
* At the end of high school I would like to attend college and go into music or linguistics
*
* I describe myself as opinionated, but open-minded
* I am also creative and love to laugh!

What is AFS?

AFS is a program that enables high school students to travel abroad to different countries and continents for a summer, semester, or full year. It promotes intercultural understanding and tolerance and helps to enable global awareness in young people today. I would be taking part in the year long program to France in which I will study at a French high school, stay with a French host family and experience the beautiful country, language, and culture of France first hand.

Why?

Some may ask, "Why in high school?" Great Question! Well, you see, I believe that if I go abroad at a stage in my life when I am still unsure about what I want to do with my life and when I am just starting to develop my own opinions and beliefs I will be able to see the world through a very unique perspective. I will be able to see an example of all the possibilities that life has to offer and become a new and more confident person inside and out. I will also become well-versed in the French language while seeing life through the point of view of another culture, and I will come back more mature and strong. This is why I have chosen high school exchange as opposed to waiting for college.

Help!

However, I do need some help getting there... The tuition is very expensive, and although my parents can help out with a lot, I have to raise some of the money through miscellaneous fund raising and from my own pocket. If it is possible to donate any amount, I will be one step closer to my dream. If you are interested in helping, you can donate directly on my blog or you can send it to me at my home address. Thank you so much!

How to Follow My Journey! :)

Whether or not you can donate, anybody can follow my blog, which I will update every month or so that I am in France. The link is right below!

Here is a link to my blog:
www.carlyhouk.blogspot.com
By clicking the ChipIn button on the right side of the page, you can easily donate any amount of money to help alleviate the program expenses.
Any amount is helpful and greatly appreciated!

Here is my home address:
17711 Bruce Avenue
Monte Sereno, CA
95030

Sincerely,
Carly Houk
Thank You!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Schmorgasborg

I feel like I have failed you, world. Meaning 3 people that actually follow my blog. I haven't posted in more than a month and a half!!! Gasp!

Ok, well now that that is over, I have some fantiddilyastic news.

I got into AFS!

Yes, at this point you are probably asking yourself why you bothered to read a blog post of something that has already been blogged about. But you are incorrect. It's a long story. Don't mind if I do!:

So it all started out November 16th 2009 when I sent in my full application... Just kidding... skip forward three months. Ok, February 11, 2010, I finally got an email saying that my application had been sent to France! YAY. I was happy. And so, when I got the bill and thought it was odd, I went on the website and I guess I thought I had gotten into the program. I emailed my supervisor, who unfortunately never responded, but I was kinda sorta used to that, so I just thought, "You know, I probably did get in" It had been about a month or so. But I was wrong... :( Because two weeks later, when I got a package from AFS in the mail, I thought.... OMG! Could this be the moment I have been waiting for?? Could I have my host family (Yes I know, this was wishful thinking even if I had been accepted)? I ripped open the package with much vehemence and joy, and as I pulled out the first letter, I got something along the lines of this:
Congratulations! Your application has been sent to France!
Oh boy..... So basically one and a half months after I was notified of my application being sent to France, my application was still in France. :| So I went about my life for a few more weeks, and finally, on April 23rd, I got accepted to France. YAY! So special. Its ok, it only took............. I'm counting.............
Five months and a week!

Yup. So that is my long story. OK, back to the awesomeness of that past couple of weeks:

I also went to an AFS orientation on April 18th. It was quite cool, and I met 3 Italians who were quite nice, two girls going to Italy, one girl going to Latvia, a girl who is going to Egypt for a community service year but I later found out had gone to France for a year. :):):) She was the only other one with ties to France. But that wasn't that weird. The only country that had more than one person going to it at the orientation was Italy. It was a great day, and it made everything feel more real.

And finally, I just wanted to add in here that my family is hosting a three week French foreign exchange student this summer. I hope it goes well!!

Thanks for reading,
Carly

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sunday was the day!! In some oddly roundabout way, I found out that I got into AFS-France (finally), and will be participating in their year long program for my entire junior year.

If you'd like, I will tell you a story (Paraphrased quote from the Book Thief):

So Sunday afternoon I was simply sitting in my living room relaxing and enjoying the free day when my mom brings in the mail. She opens up a few, discards a few, the average mail check, right? Wrong! As she opens the next letter, she says "Hey Carly, we just got an invoice from AFS."
"Quite odd," I thought, "Seeing as I haven't been formally accepted yet." However, being as knowledgeable of the AFS website as any hopeful foreign exchange student is, I went to the "Next Steps" page, in which exchangers can click on options such as:
-I am thinking about applying
-I have sent in my full application
-I have been accepted into AFS-USA
-And so on.
So I clicked on the step entitled, "I have been accepted into a program", and it specifically stated that after you have been accepted, you receive a bill of the remaining tuition to pay at your earliest convenience.
To double check, I emailed somebody and at the moment I am waiting for a reply. However, I think it is safe to assume that I will be going to France next year... :):):):):):):):)

I am so excited I don't know what to think...

I wouldn't have gotten to this point if it wasn't for everybody around me being so gracious and supportive, and I can't give you enough thanks.

Sincerely,
Carly Houk

Update: Oh my god, I can finally remove the "possibly" from my blog title!!!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Finally.... Hehe

Well, first of all I would like to say that I am sorry for completely forgetting about blogging for the past month or so. But that aside, I would also like to say that I got a message from AFS a couple of weeks ago stating that my application was in France for review. I didn't really think it deserved a blog post, because I thought my application already was in France, but hey, now I know for sure. So there you go...

I am less spastic lately, and I have gotten used to all of the waiting. I am currently trying to focus on the present, because next year will come eventually, but I will never get to have this year back. That being said, I still haven't lost any ounce of interest in AFS or France. I am ecstatic!

Talk to you soon!

-Carly.

P.S. I think I should have more structured blog posts....

P.P.S. ChipIn still open!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Drum Roll Please!

Well, right now I think you will have to bear with my possibly bad grammar and stuff of the sort. I am sorry if this blog entry is overly peppy and insane, but I just got a very happy email from AFS... I sent my local chapter volunteer supervisor person, named Victoria, a message yesterday. Today I got a reply!

*Drum roll*

I got in to AFS!!!

*Wha-pow cymbals*

I can't even start to explain my excitement right now. I *kinda* expected it, but it is such a relief and a joy to see it written down. I am ecstatic. I'll keep this entry short, so to see you off I'd just like to say thanks to everybody for their support and kindness throughout the past few months. And the patience. And the generosity!

Sincerely,

Carly Houk

P.S. If you are willing, any donations would be fantastic!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Anxious!!!

*Beware.... whiny post*

It's been some time since my last post about AFS happenings, so I think it's time for me to say at least a little. Right now, I am waiting for my application to be accepted and sent off to France. I am almost positive that I will be getting into the program, but I would like to see it for real. It's been a little more than 2 months since I sent it in, and I got one email from AFS since then... It came about a month after I sent it in saying "Thank you for submitting your full application, we are sending it to more AFS - USA people for further reviewing." I hope that's a good sign... But the waiting is killing me. On the bright side, I can't believe that another month has gone by so fast! I'll keep you posted if anything else interesting happens!

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Results are In!

I just wanted to make this post to say a sincere thank you to both Uncle Dirk and Aunt Lori and Aunts Chris and Lee for donating to my blog! Thanks so much!

On another note, I got an email from AFS on Tuesday that said my application has been sent to AFS-USA for further reviewing... I've made it passed the first level! Hooray!

Thanks to everyone for being so supportive in every way about this! Can't wait for more news.

-Carly