This is a spoken word poem derived from an English assignment that I performed at our final assembly yesterday. The transcript is found below. Enjoy.
To the SYA France Class of 2015, what follows are a few nuggets of wisdom compiled with the benefit of hindsight. Take it to heart, or not. Either way, just know that you’re in for an amazing time. You’re probably never going to be an American high schooler in France again so take advantage of all the opportunities that come your way. This is truly a once in a lifetime experience.
Thanks to my wonderful classmates for helping me put this together. Vous allez me manquez tellement.
This is it.
All that’s left are the final goodbyes, to my host family and my friends (who have become like family). Nine months later, here I am.
Last week was a whirlwind of assessments, scramming to enter just a few more grades into the book, walking casually into two APs and sleeping not a wink. Despite knowing that it was my last week of school in France, the fact that the structure still seemed relatively normal as opposed to the exam week I’m accustomed to back home made it harder for the reality to sink in.
On my last weekend in Rennes, I did my best to profitez. spending as much time as I could with my both host family and friends, soaking up all that is Rennes. True to form, the weekend was a weird one weather wise. It was sunny and beautiful then suddenly pouring at least five times on Saturday alone. Despite the crazy weather, I made myself get out of the house to wander around town with some friends. Because this is France, we ran into a marriage and two protests, one of which, being the curious kids we are, we decided to follow. Lots of gas ensued and we wisely changed tactics. That evening, I went out to a fancy crepe dinner with some of my closest friends from this program. After dinner, we swung by my friend G.O’s host to celebrate his birthday. It was a fabulous last “night out” in Rennes.
Today was our last official day of school. We received our diplomas at a lunch with all of our teachers. Words are not enough to express my emotions at how real this all was. Following lunch, I casually hung out with my classmates, jamming out and playing cards. In the evening, we celebrated at a French-American barbeque with our families, teachers and classmates: all the worlds collided for one last reunion*. The whole day had an eerie aura of normalcy– I can’t wrap my mind around the idea that this is over, that I won’t be seeing these streets in a few days, that when I wake up on Thursday I won’t go to double langue with the best group there was.
Peace out Rennes, it’s been real.
* the italics suggest the French definition of the word which is more of an everyday meeting than the English connotation implies
…because I have survived my junior year. Most people will extol the hardships of this penultimate year of high school, complaining about APs, the pressure of the impending college process and a heavy course load. “My” junior year was memorable and hard for other reasons, namely that I spent it taking most of my classes in a language that is not my first, in an old Victorian house located in Rennes, a city in the westernmost region of France, where I lived for nine months without my family. If you’ve read this blog before or have been keeping up with my adventures, this is old news, as is the fact that I can’t believe it’s over. Nine months seems like a long time at the start, even halfway through and especially during the dark winter months. But now that I’m at the end, I feel like nine months couldn’t have possibly already passed.
Things I know thanks to this year:
Things I have yet to learn:
(This format was inspired by one of my friend’s blogs: check it out!)
After two weeks of vacation, this past week was a rather harsh awakening. We were welcomed back to school for the first time in a fortnight with the French AP exam, which will be the standardized college-bound result of all of our months of immersion. So besides you know, keeping up our reputations and proving we actually learned French while in France, there was no pressure riding on this exam or anything… The majority of the test did serve as a bit of a confidence booster, and the facility with which I could answer certain questions made me realize that this year has done more for my grasp of the colloquialisms and writing style of the French language than I may have realized.
Going back to school also marked the final two week block and the start of goodbye. Sadly, the first event to come to an end was my involvement with the local retirement home. As we sang both French and American songs, I looked around the circle at the many faces I knew, recalling each memory we had formed together. The stories I heard and the afternoons I passed in this now-familiar building were one of a kind. When I signed up to participate in this activity, I had no idea it would turn out like this.
In addition to the reality of returning to the school grind, I’m forced to acknowledge the fact that I only have one week of classes left. When I arrived all those months ago, heck even at the beginning of the second semester, my year still seemed to stretch out before me, open-ended and full of possibilities. Although for the past few weeks, I’ve been keenly observing the countdown, this reality has yet to sink in. Like I’ve said for the past month, I can’t imagine leaving. Life here is so normal now: these people, this house, these streets, this routine have become a part of me. How do I let that go?
Returning home from our very last school trip this weekend and internalizing the beginning of my series of lasts compounded the resounding aura of finality. It saddened me that this was the last time I’d converse with my English teacher and his family at the front of the bus with the same group of people who’ve formed a little bus gang since our first excursion, the last time I’d singalong with my entire bus (my art history teacher and his son included), the last time my classmates and I would occupy the Fac de Droit bus stop on a Sunday evening, and the last time I’d fall asleep en route only to be awakened by a reading of “Où est bébé elephant” or an announcement of the Discotech password for the night. Even our destination showed traces of nostalgia. In going to Normandy, we’ve kinda come full circle, seeing that our first all-school excursion was crossing the baie de mont st Michel in Normandy. Additionally, the atmosphere was reminiscent of our first weekend school trip around Brittany: the coast, the brisk weather blowing over the rows of white crosses at a cemetery and a cathedral for good measure. No trip with SYA is complete without one! Following in the footsteps of the brave men and women who arrived in these cities and on these shores all those years ago was touching and inspiring- a moment of reflection for us all.
(The German WWII cemetery with my American and SYA classmate A.S)
After the bittersweet conclusion of yet another school trip and in anticipation of my upcoming AP exams, I write this in a sort of stupor. We’ve entered the realms of single digits, a cold undeniable truism that has yet to sink in. I’m reluctantly going through the motions of someone who has to return home in a week: I’ve finally pulled out my suitcases after postponing the inevitable for days. I keep having to remind myself that this is real. But unlike my reality checks nine months ago, I have no desire to believe myself. This is one case where I’m content to led someone else be correct, as long as I never have to leave. I can’t fathom that it’s almost over, to the point that I’m tempted to pull a Peeta and question everything around me. SYA France 2014: real, or not real?
(My host sisters, host dog Lucky and I after celebrating my host dad’s 50th birthday en famille)
Last week’s “jaunt” to Provence, marked our final big school trip. The conglomeration of sights we visited represented how far we’d come since our preliminary forays into calverts and our first church exploration way back on the first trip around la Bretagne.