Monday, October 31, 2011


I've always hated the word "goals." It sounds like someone is discussing soccer. What's after the goal? Then what... one things done, but did you really want to do it? Is this what's expected of you, or what you're heart wants? You know what a better word for goal is? A dream.

It's funny how in the beginning of our lives they start out big, and then usually get smaller as we grow up. I've always wondered why that is with people. When they're young, everything is new and exciting, every day is an adventure filled with endless possibilities. But then as we get older, more capable of accomplishing these feats, our hearts start to shrink. We worry about pimples, car payments, catty friends, boys, all these electronic things....honestly in my opinion, boring. All these worries boil down to going to the school your parents went to, and then becoming a house wife or a secretary. People yell at their daughters for doing stuff they themselves did. Highlights. Brunch on Sundays with the red hat club. And then you die. 

Maybe I'm a little dramatic, but I've always been that way. 
When I was in third grade, I had a plan. When I grew up I was going to be an indian chief in the mountains of North Dakota, canoeing down the great ocean coast line and sending messages to other tribes via smoke signal. 

That dream changed when Norma kindly told me that I was white, and with minimal indian heritage becoming a chief would be nearly impossible. 

Fourth grade was a low point in my life, as I had a horrid teacher who basically told my parents that I was intellectually insufficient. I was dreaming up novels and stories and theatre plays while he was talking about Math (or something). Gross. Really to pass the time I would look around the room and point out routes that elves could take to climb in and out of the walls, up the television, throughout bookshelves. ect. I still do that sometimes when I'm bored. 

Middle school was undeniably, irrevocably in my own words complete hell. I have blocked most of those three years out of my memory. I failed seventh grade math and think I broke a record for most times getting yelled at in Tech Ed. 

In freshman year I knew I just wanted to get out. Out of school. Out of Michigan. I was fourteen and already seriously ambitious on becoming a world traveler. I just wanted to see and experience everything. So I began to look look and look for opportunities. They are limited, as you can probably imagine, for a kid to say "see you" to their parents w/ permission and jet off to have adventures alone across an ocean. 

One day after school I was feeling particularly fed up with all the bull at grand haven, all the teachers I knew I was smarter than and all the kids who acted like coked up five year olds (I wasn't happy). I saw a poster to become a rotary exchange student in a foreign country for 11 months. 


When I went to the meeting, I was told afterwards that it was too late to sign up and fill out an application, as they were due in a week and they usually took three to do. 

I was going next year. 
My application was going to be filled out in record time.
And I was going to get out in the world and see what I could see. 

The men running the meeting kind of blinked at me slowly and handed me an application carefully, as if my extreme eagerness was a sign that I may bite. 

So here I am almost exactly a year later, sixteen, sitting on a couch in a french restaurant, learning a foreign language and living big. It hasn't been easy. But it's been an incredible ride so far and I plan to continue until they force me into a plane and make me go in July ! I love driving through other countries and taking pictures. I love meeting new people and trying strange foods. I live for this. And today, my dreams rest somewhere between writing adventure novels and then buying a 90 foot cutter sailboat and going around the world or becoming a zoologist in central africa and working to diminish illegal trafficking of elephant tusk ivory ! And also befriend some lions I hope. Hey, if I can get out to travel the world at sixteen, I can do anything. The difference between me and others is that I really believe that I can do it. And look, I am ! 

Today I'm driving through the Netherlands with my host family and stopping in the capital of Europe (brussels) for dinner, taking lots of pictures. 
Have a great day !
Live bold and live large ! 


Monday, October 24, 2011

This life is an adventure, this life is a gift. 2 months in France.

This weekend has been exceptionally great, for about three reasons. 

1) I got to spend Friday afternoon with ClĂ©mentine. We went to a cafe and had "Tea" with peices of yummy bread, nutella, jam, and some coffee for me and some hot chocolate for her. It was lovely. And we took some funny pictures which are on my Facebook Account. 

2) IT'S FALL HOLIDAY. For ten days, for no particular reason. And I found out two days before it began, which was really great. It was the same feeling as finding fifty dollars in a wallet you hadn't used in two years, so you forgot it was there. No school ! So that means I get to sleep. 

3) My town (Cysoing) has sort of a "sister city" in England called "Much Wenlock", and every year a bunch of people either come from there or we go there. This year was the year that a bunch of people came here. And the people who stay at our house are great friends of My host parents/family, Steve and Linda. They are HILARIOUS and funny and so so kind. And very english. And it looks like I could go to their house in England around the end of the year and stay for a while. They live actually quite close to Whales and I am very very Welch/Irish so it would be cool to walk along the cliffs and the sea, taking lots of pictures. The whole group of them remarked how Welch I look and about my welch name, round face, big eyes, bow lips. I thought I would actually go to back to England this week for the rest of my vacation, but my host mother pointed out it would be terrible for my progressing french and though I do have a french visa, my rotary doesn't allow you to travel outside the district yet. Which I find absolutely ridiculous and stupid, because we're in Europe for godssakes, everything's right here for us to see. But it has been such great fun to spend time with these people. In a while we're going out to the city to do some shopping. This morning we walked through the rolling green country side with Galette (sausage dog) and her puppies. The sun was out and it was absolutely beautiful and not freezing, for a change. I'm going to be photographing when we go out today and I think I've got enough battery in my camera.

What's weird is... I don't think my english accent is beginning to change...but it is a little different. Because whenever I've gotten to speak english it's been with someone who has an english accent or is from england. It's not the extreme american/midwest anymore. And also I laugh differently. Today is the two month mark of when I've been in France, and there are so many changes about myself that I've noticed. I've lost weight, I laugh differently, my food preferences have changed... and also I don't know. I just feel about fifteen years older. My french is loads better. Simple little things that really shock me sometimes, when I pause to think about it. 

I can't wait to post more pictures today. I'm looking forward to going back to school next Wednesday to see all my friends. I love love love where I am, my life. A while ago my friend Christine came to Cysoing to visit me and my home. We walked through the forrest to a bench which was facing an ancient chateau, with the sun gleaming through the trees and the water of a river sparkling under the land bridge the bench was on. I said..."Let's just stop time." 

We sat there for what seemed like an age. I closed my eyes. After a while she grabbed my hand and told me we had to leave, because she had to catch a bus for her train back into the city. 

I stopped for one more second and then followed her to leave. And that's life I suppose. We can't freeze anything, but we can stop in our own bubble of time to look around and enjoy it. We must continue and march on for what's next, but there's no problem if you want to be thankful for what's been given to you. And who knows, maybe that's why I'm so happy right now. I'm looking at it and understanding how beautiful everything is and I know how lucky I am. Not a day goes by when I don't smile and appreciate the path my life has taken. Because I've already changed. And so much time is left for me here. There is no limit to the possibilities that can still happen. Life is a miracle, and for those who have been given the ability to understand its is a true gift. 

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy your Monday and the rest of your week. You know I am. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Questions/Deep thoughts

Many things go through my mind on a daily basis. I wish I could just stare at wall for twenty four hours and think. 

Was I put in France for a cosmic, universal reason? Does everything happen for a reason/or are we just all tap dancing on a roller coaster of chance. Where does it all go, what does it all mean? What is jealousy really, what is anger. Is it all within ourselves or can we really hate another. How can others make us feel pain? It isn't our problem, we know it's not our fault...but then how, at some times, have I just wanted to lock myself in my room and cry because of something someone else said or did. What does it really mean to us? Why do we allow others to control our feelings? And is our sadness from their anger a reflection of their internal sadness...or is it just us. Feeling inadequate.

Though I feel free to broadcast my opinions, my thoughts and feelings, in actuality I am a very private person. I think many know me as who I choose to be seen as, but select few know me as I really am. I've always known that I am an individual. I see things differently, I go about things in my own time and space. I feel things very deeply, and that can work against me when I feel sadness. But with that I can create passages of writing, or paintings, drawings. 

Why did I want to become an Exchange Student? I wanted to be a speaker of two languages. I wanted to experience and learn about another culture. I wanted to make friends who come from diverse walks of life. And in all honesty, I wanted to get out of Michigan, the midwest, and America. I want knowledge, I want freedom, I want truth. I want perspective. And this hunger and foolishness of the traveler will rest inside me forever. Yesterday was America, Today is France, and tomorrow the world. I will never stop, because to stop is for others who are content with the norm. And as mentioned, I am an individual in the extreme. This experience has made me content in that for the first time. 

"I'm not going to change the way I look or the way I feel to conform to anything. I've always been a freak. So I've been a freak all my life and I have to live with that, you know. I'm one of those people." -John Lennon

I hope you have enjoyed a look into my brain. Enjoy your Sunday. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

If you can't beat them join them.

The girls here are beautiful. It's outrageous, and if any one of them set foot in my school at home, everyone would fall in love (Anne Demange...). As a woman in France, it's very important to look good. I go to public school here, and even the girls there all wear high heeled shoes or boots, beautiful clothes, and it's not uncommon every day to have perfect hair and makeup. 

When I got here, this really wasn't me. Really wasn't me. I had clunky black clogs, sweatshirts, the like. It worked in America because most of the population of ghhs wore sweats and jeans everyday, so who would care. 

I have three host sisters here (Agathe, Blanche, Sidonie) and they're all very very pretty and dress beautifully all the time. My host mother quickly noticed I was very different, and laughed and joked at me all the time.  I laughed too, because I was like a confused duck wandering around with a bunch of swans. 

And then I sold my soul, buying my first pair of high heeled brown boots. 

awesome FRENCH GIRL stuff ! I wake up earlier to put on makeup (even lipstick, thanks MSL...) before I get on the bus and the train. I consciously put on jewelry (that matches? yes.) and perfume. I wear a lot of turtle necks, skirts, and tights. AND OF COURSE A SCARF EVERYDAY. I didn't know my feet could look so small (oh wait, it is because I'm not wearing shoes that are too big/ugly? Oh...) hahah. 

In other news, learning french is agonizingly hard. I know for a fact it is the toughest latin language to learn, and I heard on the radio that it was the hardest language to learn in the world. After going over mountains of grammar corrections, I won't argue. Also, I forget what they're called, verb subjunctions or something but anyway in English there are 0, in Portuguese there are 4, and in French there are 6. Today I had a FOUR HOUR french class and I just sat there concentrating so hard my jaw was clenched tight enough that I started to feel sick. 

I'm tired, and all my sisters are here this weekend so it's a little crazy. I go horseback riding tomorrow, and I have school again on Monday. I'm making friends everywhere, and I already love all of them so much. 

This song reminds me of all the girls at my school. Especially with the clacking heels. But now my heels clack too, so we've got that going for us. copy the link into your browser ! A tout. Biz.