A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: rachelkronk

Final Days

My exchange year is coming to an end, but I will always be an exchange student. Maybe this is just the current, incessant feeling that I can't leave France, but I hope to always keep the mentality that this year gave me. I know in not too long that I will have to leave this life that I made.
"Well, you can always visit"
Yes, I can always visit, but I won't live with my families or go to my school. I won't see my friends from 10+ countries at the same time at the same place.

As upset as I feel about all of that, I wouldn't change any of it and I'd do it all over again.

I've grown a lot in my time here (and not in the usual gain 10 lbs for exchange students). In fact, I've actually lost around 6 kgs. I guess that's a good transition to physical change. My hair is a lot longer, although my mom made me get a haircut while she was here. I wear jeans almost everyday as opposed to twice a month. I'm fairly certain that I have 1.5 broken fingers. My Rotary blazer also went from 20 pins to 150 and counting ;)

Other changes are a bit more difficult to describe. I'm bilingual now which I will happily call my greatest accomplishment. I struggle with the word fluent, though. The line is not all that clear. My pronunciation is still horrible, but that's beside the point.
My friend group has grown from a couple people in a couple states to people in several countries. I got to hear the opinions of the Brexit from people all over Europe... extremely eye-opening. The weigh-in from an Italian girl from my bustrip was especially hilarious with her colorful vocabulary.
One thing that has really changed is the amount of times I will say in my head, "well when will I get another chance." New food? Taste it. New person? Talk to them. Have a question? Ask it.
The food is gross, the person rude, and the person you asked the question to laughs at you. To me, that's a lot better than wondering.

I have had to say goodbye to a lot of people already and there's still a lot left. They did make it a lot easier by dumping water on me beforehand, but I would not recommend that anyone else try that. (If French people blindfold you on your birthday. run.)

My flight is in 6 days, my suitcase is halfway packed, and my room is a mess. Wow, I'm really going to miss the croissants.


That was a real hodgepodge wasn't it?
Euro Cup Final is tonight!!! ALLEZ LES BLEUS!!!

Posted by rachelkronk 02:28 Archived in France Comments (1)

Stories Part 4

sunny 21 °C

Plenty has been happening here in the last two months or so. Hence why I haven't written another "stories" installment. Anyone that knows me well enough, however, knows that I can't go long without an awkward situation or making a witty (in my opinion) remark. So, as the new phrase we learned in english class goes, without further "Add-O" (ado) here's some things that have happened.

I ordered a croissant in French then paid
The cashier said "thank you" in German
I said "What?" in English

My host mom took me to a movie on a Tuesday night, and said there would be another in 15 days. I said,"oh Wednesday works better because I start later on Thursday." She looked at me confused, and said that the next one is on Tuesday night. So when a french person says "15 days" it really means "2 weeks"

Whenever I meet a new group of people: "Hi I'm Rachel" ... "Oh like in FRIENDS?" repeat x number of encounters

Jokes I played on another american during bus trip

1.) At most pizza places in Europe a bottle of really spicy oil is usually placed on the table. I had started to say, "it's very spicy", but decided to go with, It's good, but not very strong so a lot has to be put on." ..... He poured a lot on... oops. He did continue to eat the entire thing though because, in his words, "[He is] a man"

2.) We had a guided audio tour in Milan with radios and headphones. I was close enough to hear the guide so I plugged the headphones into my phone and played background music. I showed two of my friends and somehow convinced them that it was channel 17 on the radio.

3.) On the same tour, my friend had stopped listening entirely to the guide so I jokingly remarked, "You should really listen because there's a test when we get back to the bus." I got a panicked response of, "No! Dang! Really??"

4.) We had a paper to fill out for the last day, but there were only a few pens. The same person had already asked my friend many times, but he thought she hadn't heard so asked me to ask... so I turned to her and said, "They don't need the pen anymore, they found another one"

I started this post awhile back.... wow

Well it's finally above 60 degrees here, and the season for France's national sport has begun: la greve.
Yep, it's striking season. We started with an oil strike, followed by the trains (second time this year), this morning the general electric company, and rumors of air traffic joining in as well. With exams starting in school, I can't imagine that they will last very long. As for the question on what the strikes are over: In general it's higher pay, more paid vacation, etc. Sorry I can't be more specific as to each strike, but the strikers are generally the only ones that know. Oh by the way, France has a 35 hour work week and 5 weeks of paid vacation if you ever thought about moving ;)

I learned in my english class that schedule can be pronounced sedule (because my professors son said so)
I guess it's "the British way" just like every other english thing in that class that I don't understand
On that note: you try explaining the uses and differences between sleek, shiny, glimmering, and sparkling-- and not go completely insane

Have I mentioned that my host parents are now a foster family? I now have a 2-month-old host sister named Louisa. She is absolutely adorable. Supposedly another 11-year-old will join too, but only for 2 weeks if I heard correctly.

I had another trip to Paris the other day
Champs Élysées
then back down the street to find coffee
Champs Élysées
Brazilian Consulate
Champs Élysées
Macdo for lunch
Champs Élysées
Eiffel Tower
Champs Élysées
Brazilian Consulate to pick up papers
Champs Élysées
Brazilian consulate
Hard Rock Café

Did you notice any repetitiveness? A combination of bad planning and asking directions to the wrong address... oops
Still a pretty amazing day

Oh yeah and my family was here! If anyone knows my mother: the next time you see her point at a random building and ask, "Is that the Louvre?" or If she asks where something is respond with, "It's in China, right?"
It will be worth the ask

Don't be too mad at me, mom... I found the 3 for 10 euros trays!

That's all I can think of for now, I'll write more soon<3

Posted by rachelkronk 09:04 Archived in France Comments (1)

Bus Trip!

The best 12 consecutive days of my life

Here's a quick summary of each day of EuroTour 2016:

Day 1: I left Caen by train in the morning, met two other students from my district, and arrived at Gare St Lazare. We took the metro to Gare de Lyon and met with about 20 other students. Then we walked to the bus where we met all of the other students. After organizing phone numbers, passports, etc. we were allowed to split off into groups and walk around. I went with a group of americans to a park.
When we got back to the bus we took a tour of Paris that included the biggest monuments and a trivia game of country vs country (The US didn't do all that well) We drove to Reims to sleep.

Day 2: Wake up at 6:30! Drove to Strasbourg. Free time to find lunch/souvenir shop, then a tiny train tour, then more free time. Rained the whole day.

Day 3: Bye France, hello Germany! We lost a bit of time in Munich because of a car accident, but it wasn't very noticeable. We had another bus tour and saw a river that made a wave that people were surfing (a bit hard to explain...)
IMG_4171.jpgIMG_4181.jpgIMG_4195.jpg IMG_4199.pngIMG_4197.png

Day 4/5: My second favorite town--PRAHA! Prague was just absolutely beautiful. Changing currencies was a bit difficult but I managed to finish with just 2 crowns. We took a walking tour the first day then had mostly free time the next. A specialty in Prague is this churro bowl thing that they line with nutella and then fill with ice cream. Unfortunately for me the cinnamon mix also had nuts in it, but it smelled delicious! We also went to a castle that overlooked the town.
Day 6: Vienna! Average day of walking, sight seeing, pictures, etc. We got to go to a carnaval! I went on two rides with my friend Teju. We were singing/screaming/crying so much that we got a lot of weird looks. The second ride turned you upside-down, then spun your cart, and then spun the whole thing! I also tried a game where you kick a soccer ball as hard as you can (I almost broke the record!)
Day 7: Woke up early, drove an hour, then turned around and drove back to hotel. Turns out that our bus driver had pneumonia. He's doing well from what I've heard! We stayed until about 2pm when we got a new bus to travel to Italy aka day to catch up on sleep.

Day 8: Venice (the best city) There was a guided tour, but it was optional. The rivers, the buildings, everything was just amazing. Well except the food.... the pizza was good except there was a cover charge. Oh yeah and water isn't free either. So lunch cleaned us out of most of our euros, luckily I had enough for a bit of gelato.

Day 9: Milan :) We had only 30 minutes of free time here and it was for lunch... then a walking tour and of course the "best gelato in Italy" that I can say was better than Venice. Then it was straight to the bus to drive to where we would sleep. If you spin three times it's good luck!

Day 10: Chamonix- back to France! We took a train to Mont Blanc where there was snow! We walked to la mer de glace ( an ice cave filled with colored lights)
At the hotel we had a live musician.

Day 11: Switzerland: We visited the UN in Geneva, walked around town, then drove to our hotel for a party to celebrate the last day. IMG_4441.jpgIMG_4449.jpg6533FF18CCE90A6B26B2D553C44A5A4D.jpg

Day 12: Goodbyes :( We drove back to Paris, dropped off some students at a train station, then went to Gare de Lyon, took the metro, and got on my train at st Lazare. My train was delayed about 40 minutes, but that means the ticket may be refunded haha

Miss you guys <3

Posted by rachelkronk 01:39 Comments (3)

Le Blocus

Liberty, I cry your name

I haven't had classes the past two days because of the school being blockaded.... so might as well blog!
Topic of protest: working hours
Yesterday morning when I got to school there were dumpsters, chains, you name it covering all access points to the building. All school signs were covered by slogans of the protest. It was still early so not many students were there yet, but I heard the number got to around 300. The students sat on the piles with their food supplies while teachers watched from the corner. I left with some of my friends to go downtown and we even saw the lunch ladies all having coffee together. The reason the blockade continued to today was because the students were well organized and no violence occurred. Through Facebook, the student leaders posted rules (no violence, no drinking, etc.) and the short list of who would be allowed through the blockade. It's interesting to think of what the results would be if something similar were attempted in the states.
As for the larger protest in the city, there's nothing I can really say for certain. There was one post on the Facebook page:
"Je tiens à préciser que c'est après midi quand les manifestants ont bloqué le périphérique de Caen les policiers en ont profité pour lancer dans la foule des gaz lacrymogènes étouffant littéralement les étudiants pourtant pacifiques. Cette attaque à ainsi permis au policiers d'interpeller bon nombre d'étudiants dispersés. Comme vous le savez le blocus continu demain alors on attend qu'un maximum de lycéens ici à Victor Hugo se mobilisent et soit tenace pour ne pas plier face au gouvernement."
that describes that teargas was used to disperse students. This is the only mention of this that I have heard of, but the news later that night did show larger demonstrations in other parts of the country. At one point, I did see a march of workers with signs, but I was not anywhere close.
That's about all there is on that. My region is now officially on spring break! I've started packing, I switch host families tomorrow, and I leave for EuroTour Monday morning! I don't have a full itinerary but the cities are:
Paris, Strasbourg, Munich, Prague, Vienna, Venise, Milan, Geneve , and Charmonix

Happy Easter!

Posted by rachelkronk 05:51 Archived in France Comments (4)

Repas des Saveurs

Salut Salut

Here's an account of my latest endeavors :)

Pegasus bridge: an important turning point for the liberation of Caen.

The craziness for the Repas started Saturday morning. I began cutting cabbage at 10 and was done with the ground beef by 2. I think that I could make the dressing for coleslaw in under 30 seconds!
At 2, I left with my host family to go to Caen for a dictée. I suppose the translation would be dictation? It was held in the management school where a man read off a few paragraphs while everyone copied. If I remember correctly: error in conjugation was -2 points, spelling was -1, and accentuation was -.5. The first place winner had just -2! Considering the speed of the reading and difficulty level of the words, I was floored by that.
Then I went to Arianna's house for the night because her family would drive me the next morning. We made some churros, ate fondu, danced, and sang karaoke... fun night! We even turned the karaoke into "The Voice" with spinning chairs. Arianna's host brother also practically dragged me outside when I told him that I played soccer so we played for about half an hour.


The next morning we got up at 8 to drive to Villainville. "The evilest of towns" according to Arianna's host father. The students got to eat pizza while preparing the food. This was the point when I realized that sloppy joes are definitely not meant for bite-size pieces. I also was given a microwave that needed to be switched on and off every minute in order to continue going. With the help of a very generous rotarian, I was able to finish in time!
We served the 200-some people, saw a dance performance by a student and her host brother, all introduced ourselves and our food, then it was time for dessert! A rebound from the USA brought cupcakes that we formed into a flag.
The French outbounds also told us where they're going to go, and out of the 6 going to the US, 3 are going to Ohio!! Of course, I taught them: OH! IO!
One of the short terms to Ohio also happens to be the daughter of my history teacher. There was also a long term that said he already knows that he's going to D6690!
On the way back we stopped at the iconic Falaise d'Etretat!

Posted by rachelkronk 12:15 Archived in France Comments (4)

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