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! :)