The idea that I’ve been living in France for four months now completely baffles me. This month brought on new emotions and experiences. I enjoyed the holiday season with a new set of traditions and activities. I was also faced with homesickness which I was prepared for. Homesickness, for me, is a very confusing emotion.
On the one hand, I miss my life back home because I have so many good memories that my mind keeps replaying. But on the other hand, I know that this new chapter in my life is something that I’ll never forget. I don’t want to spend all my time missing home when I could be using that time to experience new things. However, homesickness is typical in exchanges, and I’m embracing it because I also see the things I took for granted.
The whole month of December, my city does hundreds of festive activities. There is a Marché de Noël (The Christmas Market) where you can buy desserts, drinks, small gifts, etc. The churros, vin chaud, and gaufres were some of my personal favorites. The atmosphere is so homely, and it got me in the Christmas spirit. There were also several Christmas trees placed around the city. At night there were several shows that you could view for free. One of my favorites was the animated opera show projected on the city hall. What was even more magical was that you could hear the opera singers all around town. It all made me feel like I was in a Hallmark Christmas movie.
My family and I decorated the Christmas tree in the house, and Christmas music was always playing 24/7. One night my family made escargot (snails). It was one of the dishes I was the most impatient to try. Everyone gathered around me to view my reaction, and my mom was most pleased to see that I enjoyed them. Although the consistency was a bit unusual, I tried not to get into my head about it. I think it’s important to get out of your comfort zone and try new things, especially when it comes to food. That’s how I found my new favorite meal.
A couple of days after Christmas, my family and I decided to spend a night with my host grandmother. The drive would take about five hours which gave me the chance to read a book my host brother had gifted me by Agatha Christie. After we had arrived and settled into the house, my brother and I took a walk around the city. My grandmother lives in a tiny town, but it has beautiful buildings and adorable cafes. That night we also had dinner with a couple of other relatives. It was cool to see more into my host mom’s life since that had been her childhood home. The following day we packed up, said our goodbyes, and headed back home.
I looked through my December photos while writing this blog post. It made me emotional and very thankful. I still can’t wrap my head around what I’m experiencing right now. My family and friends here are people I never want to let go of. My exchange wouldn’t be the same without them. As we go into the new year, I am setting a couple of goals for myself, especially language-wise. But I am going to take everything one step at a time.
Until next time,
Captions for photos:
Photo 1: A small Christmas market. This one mainly sold food and drinks. It was right next to the Parlement de Bretagne.
Photo 2: One of the many Christmas shows that were put on in the city. This one was a moving act that went all around the streets.
Photo 3: With my family, walking around the city during the Christmas festivities.
Photo 4: Christmas Eve dinner at my house (I tried pigeon for the first time!
Note: Mackenzie is on a year program from our Greater Los Angeles (GLA) Area Team (AT) to France, 2021-2022. She is the recipient of a GLA local need-based scholarship.