Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Shopping, Shopping and more Shopping

Sleeping in a bed last night was nice instead of sleeping on a train or a plane but I went to bed at 11 and woke up and was wide awake at 5 with nothing to do. But then I slept from 7 to 9. I woke up and had chocolate milk and toast. (And my toast was not even French bread. I have not had one bite of French bread since I have been here. It has all been whole grain sliced bread….A little disappointing) I was very French today. I didn’t take a shower. Then my French mom and roommate and I went to a shopping mall which was huge. It had a “Wal-Mart” inside it. I got a hair dryer and straightener and some shampoo. France does not supply shopping bags to anyone unless you opt to buy a reusable bag…otherwise you are stuck carrying all your groceries. It’s a little harsh but a very good way to get people to go green I think. Then we went to “Kroger” and I bought some things to eat for lunch. I bought some ham, cheese (they don’t believe in sliced cheese…needless to say my sandwich had chunks of cheese on it.) and some crackers and Special K granola bars. (Yes, I know what you are thinking. This girl is in France and why the heck did she buy Special K granola bars?) I bought them because when I woke up last night my stomach was growling and it’s not like I can walk downstairs and make myself a snack…So the granola bars are hiding in my closet in case of a food emergency.

I walked around the city with my roommate and her friend that will go to my school here too. We walked for what seemed like forever but I got to see a lot of shops and where things are at. I also got to see my school. It looks like a fancy castle and is only a 5 minute walk from school. We walked around for over two hours I think and when we got back (because I did not wear appropriate shoes) I had huge blisters on my toes.

For dinner we ate an amazing 4 course meal. At the beginning we had what she called pork pate but it tasted and smelled like tuna salad (and as my momma says, “Tuna and chicken salad make everything better”) so I ate that on some bread. Then we had beef ravioli in a sweet tomato sauce which I had two helpings of. Then we had a French version of gruyere cheese and brie cheese and then she made a pear and almond tart (I of course picked out all the pears) with some vanilla ice cream. It was all delicious and I don’t think I am going to wake up hungry tonight thankfully but if I do….I have my hidden Special K bars!

Today was a better day than yesterday but the time change is still killing me. I was ready for bed around 4 today. I haven’t done anything exciting yet but I’m sure I will when school starts and we go on exciting field trips! I am a total geek but am excited for school to start.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Longest Day

So I have been awake for 28 hours now. I woke up at 8 yesterday and had a wonderful last breakfast with my dad. I had my meltdown at the restaurant and while I was at home. Then I got all my stuff together and said goodbye to my sister. (Who is going to have a wonderful amazing school year by the way) It was a hard goodbye but she’s amazing. I also said goodbye to my grandparents which was hard but I will see them soon! On the way to the airport, my mom, Chris, Bill and I had some yummy last meal or Portillo’s hot dogs. I had my first cake shake. (It was AMAZING! Cake mixed into anything is heaven) We got to the airport and of course the lady at the check in counter said I could only have one other person not flying come through security with me. (Cue another meltdown) My mom came with me which meant I had to say goodbye to Bill and Chris right then. It was a tearful goodbye but I know that I will see them both soon. (I love you guys very much!) My mom and I walked to my gate where we met Patrick, another boy from ISU who is going to the same school in France that I am. When they called my zone to load the plane that is when the real water works started. I knew this would be the last time I would see anyone in my family for over 2 months. (Yes, I am a huge baby because I still live at home and didn’t go away to school. I like it that way but like I said, working on becoming an adult) I hugged my mom for a long time and being typical mommy she told me to use my pleases and thank yous, chew with my mouth closed and to not play with my hair at the dinner table. (I’ve obeyed all your rules so far mama) She packed a surprise key chain in my bag which made my cry even more and she wrote me a very encouraging note (which I needed).

I didn’t cry or have a panic attack when the plane took off (which is very unusual for me). There was an older French gentleman who told me all about Angers and told me useful information about the train station. Patrick and I got our bags and roamed around for what seemed like hours until we found the train (which gets much heavier by each ten minutes that you pull it….My hands have calluses) The train went fast but not as fast as I thought it would feel. (It supposedly goes 150 miles per hour). My French host mom was waiting to pick me up at the train station. She is very nice and pretty and speaks very good (but fast) French.

She showed me my room (pictures to come) and said I could rest and take a shower and get my things all put away. My room is divided into two parts. There is a part with my desk and a mirror and then another littler room that has my bed and an armoire. I took a shower and then came in my room and had another meltdown but then I put my big girl pants on, calmed myself down (also started talking to myself) and started to put my room together. It is starting to feel like home to me a little bit. They are hosting another girl at their house too. She is very nice and has helped me find things or explain things to me. She speaks French very well so I have some catching up to do. They have a nice pool in their back yard with amazing trees and flowers. They have a dog named Mozart, a little white Scottie, who is 15 but he still runs outside. I sat outside for a little bit and enjoyed the weather. (It is 70 here and windy which makes it a big chilly, even with jeans and a light sweater on and I LOVE it!)

School doesn’t start until the 2nd of September so I have a few days to find the things I need and work on my French. Wish me lots of luck and write me letters!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

50 pounds and 62 inches

Everyone overpacks. It’s just something inside all of us. We worry what if we need this or oh I might need that if this happens but then you only end up needing half the stuff you brought. Imagine the inside of your closet. (If you’re like me then it’s a little jam packed…especially with shoes) Now imagine all the clothes that you wear in a month or even just a week. Say 7 shirts for a week and 4 or 5 pair of bottoms, a pair or two of pajamas, and a couple outfits to work out in. When you think about it like this it doesn’t really doesn’t sound like a lot. When you take this week of clothes and multiply it by 16….it’s a little difficult to fit into a 62 inch suitcase that can weigh no more than 50 pounds. I know what you’re thinking…”What?! They’re not going to let this girl do any laundry?” No, they will let me do laundry once a week but still….being a typical girl I pack lots of clothes (and did I mention I have a whole other suitcase for my shoes?) Thankfully, my wonderful mother is a master at rolling my clothes up into little balls so they fit in the tiniest space, which means I will definitely have to learn the word for iron in French.

I feel very Carrie Bradshaw saying this second part like it would be something she would write about in her column. Doesn’t it feel like just when everything is going smooth and nice every once in a while that something has to come and break it apart? I’m totally not complaining about going to France, just that Chris and I haven’t fought in what seems like months and we are constantly finishing each other’s sentences (SUPER CHEESEY right?), I’m finally getting along with my sister for more than a day at a time (It’s a very love hate relationship), I’m closer with my dad and brother than I have been in a long time, my mom and stepdad are amazing and all that is about to be broken. I’m sure things will go back to being like this way when I get back from France but it would be nice for things to stay like this for just a little longer.  I just love them all so much.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Getting off the WHAT?!

My mom has a friend at work that has kids around my age. While one of his sons was getting ready to leave for college his mother was crying because another one of her sons was leaving home. When she was crying and hugging her son, the son also started to get emotional and tear up too. Being a typical man, my mom’s friend said to his wife, “Stop crying, it’s time for him to get off the tit!” - meaning go out on his own and not rely on his mother so much. Because my family makes fun of pretty much anything and everything, my mom came home one day and told the rest of us this. It has become a huge joke around our house and anytime anyone is acting like a “baby”, we tell them this.
If you’re reading this, then you probably know that in eight short days I will be leaving the country and going to study abroad in Angers, France. Unlike many of my friends, I didn’t go away for college or live in the dorms. I have been saving and saving my money for my upcoming adventure. I have always been closer with my family than a lot of other students my age whether they stayed at home or not. I also have an amazing and wonderful boyfriend who I have been with for five and a half years. Because of this, I am an emotional mess as I start to pack and get ready to leave. The first day I started to lay out my clothes to pack, I ended up on the floor in a pile full of sweaters and scarves in tears. The week before this, I got upset because I had to start a new bar of soap and I wouldn’t be here to finish it. (A little crazy right?) As the days left dwindle down to zero, I am trying to go from living at home and relying on my family and friends for everything to adult Mackenzie who can travel on her own and do everything for herself all on her own. Or as my mom’s friend at work would say…”It’s time for me to get off the tit.”

I am super excited to go to school over there and learn as much as I possibly can and also travel but my body is filled with so much anxiety and nervousness that I can’t sleep and my stomach hurts constantly. This is my first time flying all on my own and being all on my own in an unfamiliar place. (For those of you who don’t know, I completely hate hate hate flying and have to be drugged to get on and off the plane in one piece) I know that when I meet my French host family I will feel better and they will make me feel at home and comfort me and everything will work out but I guess I am finally feeling what all my friends felt two years ago just multiplied by the fact that no one there is allowed to speak English to me. They don’t teach you the word for tampons in French class in school.

Don’t get me wrong, I am totally eager and excited to start my new adventure. Just a taaaaad nervous. So in the next couple days I will be putting on my big girl pants, “getting off the tit”, and becoming an adult.