School: Pickerington North High School
Sponsor Club: Reynoldsburg-Pickerington, Ohio
Host District: 1640
Host Club: The Rotary Club of Caen
Bonjour! My name is Rachel Kronk and I am currently studying abroad in Normandy, France. I am 17 years old and just graduated from Pickerington North High School. I will attend American University in the Fall of 2016. Outside of school, I like to play ultimate frisbee and play viola/ukulele. I also work part-time as a lifeguard and enjoying volunteering with my youth group. I have two older brothers: CJ and Ryan. CJ did a short-term exchange to Germany that inspired me to go on exchange. I have experienced so much already, and there’s much more ahead! Merci, Rotary!
Monthly letters to the Reynoldsburg-Pickerington Rotary club (my sponsor club!)
Hello Pickerington/Reynoldsburg Club!
This past month has marked the halfway point of my exchange! My language is still improving and there’s always something new to discover. Right after Christmas break, the Brazilian exchange student from last year returned to pass the French school exam in July. Now there are two exchange students in our class of 28! There were lots of Rotary events this month for the returning and outbound French students. Of the returned students, two are my host siblings! My teachers also decided to have me take the bad blanc in philosophy and history which are this week.
As far as trips are concerned, two weekends ago I went with my host mother and my friend Arianna to Saint Malo! I’ll attach some pictures because it was beautiful! I switch host families on the 8th, and will go with them on a ski trip in the Alps! Talk about family bonding! I’ve been told it should take about three days and then hopefully I won’t fall anymore. March is Canival here which means costumes and parties! Then there’s the bus trip in April and my family visits in May. So much to look forward to and it is all because of you. Thank you so much!
I have also worked out my return date with my counselor so I’ll see you all in July!
Dear Pickerington/Reynoldsburg Club,
I hope you all had/are having a wonderful holiday season! It’s been a lot warmer than I would expect in December, but all of the activities definitely made it feel like Christmas! A christmas tree just sort of appeared in my school on the first of the month. After almost walking into it a couple of times it was finally moved to the side of the hall as opposed to the center. My school also played Christmas music, and my friends taught me the lyrics to French carols such as “Vive le Vent.” Still haven’t found a new welcome song for you all in French, but I could sing French Jingle Bells!
This entire month I have been with my second host family the Rannou-Cantimpres. I have gone from one host-sibling to five which has definitely been different. We have gone ice skating, made cakes, gone shopping, and watched many movies. This family has a TV whereas my first family did not so I’m enjoying French reality TV. They have also established the “new english word or phrase of the day”. This usually comes from something that someone points to in the house/town or a phrase that one of my host brothers saw online. So far with word we have learned torchon=towel, Grand rue= Ferris wheel, and trade=echanger. The phrases have been a bit harder because they’re a bit hard to explain. My host brother asked what “Everywhere float the boat” meant. I finally realized that this was “whatever floats your boat” then had to explain that with my limited vocabulary.
Every one of my host siblings has either a 19 or 20 in English class. I have an 18.7…
I have visited three Christmas markets (Fleury, Caen, and Rouen). They all have mostly the same things. There’s food like chichis, cotton candy, and pretzels; merry-go-rounds (a ferris wheel if it’s a large city); and booths with games, jewelry, and clothes. Fleury and Caen were with my family, but Rouen was with the other students. It’s hard to believe that the next time we’ll all be together is the bus trip!
Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noël, Happy Holidays, Joyeux Fetes, and Happy New Year!!
Another incredible month has passed here in France. It has been rather hectic as I’m sure you’ve heard about the attacks in Paris. Rest assured, things are calm in Normandy and life is continuing as usual.
The beginning of the month was rather uneventful. I think I had finally completely settled into a daily routine. The Rotary meeting I attended was the District Governors Meeting. The speaker was the oldest Rotarian in the club at 95 years old. He spoke about his life. I had a great conversation with another Rotarian about his life. He’s German, came to study in France, then went to Switzerland for a year, then Britain where he met his wife, and then back to Normandy. He told me he was very nervous living in France as a German, but he met a tailor that made him feel better. The tailor had no legs because of a bomb in WW2. The Rotarian told him he was German, and the tailor had no reaction. He said that his wife was British and the tailor said, ” I lost my legs because of those ****** Brits”
He told me,”Don’t let anyone make you feel like you don’t belong for being yourself or feel ashamed for a past that you weren’t a part of.”
Another mentionable quote was:
“Having lived as many places as I have, I feel like a citizen of the world”
At the end of the meeting the governor gave me the French version of the “Be a Gift to the World” flag. In French it’s,”Faire don se soi au monde.”
For Thanksgiving, My second host family came over. There was no shortage of dessert as I made cupcakes and pumpkin pie with my first host mom, and my second host mom brought apple tart (Apparently that’s what French Wikipedia says is typical thanksgiving dessert). After dinner, I moved to my second host family. As a going away present from my first family I got a Christmas countdown calendar with chocolate. As a welcome present from my second family I got… a Christmas countdown calendar with chocolate! Now I get two pieces for each day in December haha. My new family is recomposed so my host mom (Sophie) has 2 sons (Antoine 17 and Emille 14) and a daughter (Angèle 12). My host dad (Laurent) has a daughter (Maëlle 20) and a son (Sam 17). There ots of laughing over dinner and explanations to me of French play on words on my first night. The family had a fun time cleaning after dinner too. We cleaned a pot for about 10 minutes because the water had to boil to get some food off and letting it almost boil over but stopping it by picking it up was extremely amusing.
I was able to see the last newsletter; I’m glad that my blog is being read! Thank you all so much, and hope David is doing well!
November 1: I hope you all had a great Halloween! October has been an extremely busy yet fun month. Rotary had a weekend planned for seven districts to meet at Mont St Michel. We arrived at lunch time Saturday, had a picnic, and got to know the other 200 some students. After lunch we walked from the hotel to the base of the island where we had an exchange-student flashmob to Uptown Funk. Then we started the walk around the island. It was like walking through clay and there were also a few river crossings that made me realize that jeans were a bad idea. There were also jellyfish, and an area where if you jump on the mud-you bounce, but if you don’t move-you sink.We then went to a restaurant for dinner which was followed by a HUGE party. There were strobe lights, a million colors, and a fog machine. The music was by request so I knew 1 in about 5 songs, but it was still absolutely amazing! Each time a song came on that one group knew they would teach the dance to some of the others. This lasted until about 2 am. The next morning we took the bus (thank goodness) to Mont St Michel.
I also met with other students at Juno Beach. We took a guided tour with Anthony’s host parents, walked through the museum, and of course got pins for our blazers. It was interesting to see the French viewpoint of World War II.
The last two weeks have been vacation where I visited Paris, Cherbourg, and Le Havre! Paris consisted of visiting every monument possible in our timeframe. I got to see the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Notre Dame, and many others just not as in depth of a visit. Cherbourg had a nuclear submarine tour, titanic museum, and an aquarium! Then in Le Havre I got to experience French Halloween! We carved a pumpkin (very tiny pumpkin), went Trick-or-Treating (not as successful as in the states), and made spinach artichoke dip and Mac&cheese!
My French is definitely progressing! Thank you all so much, and I hope to hear from you!
October 1: The 25th marked one month since I have arrived in France! This means the end of my blackout period. So much has happened this month that I’m not certain I can fit it all into this email. My host mother asked me when I arrived what time period I would like to explore; I chose the Middle Ages. Each weekend, I would then visit a new place. We have seen the Bayeux Tapestry, Falaise Castle, Caen Castle, and the Abbey Aux Hommes. I pass the abbey and the Caen castle every day going to school!
With the Rotary club of Caen I have also seen some of the battlefields of the Battle of Normandy and Disneyland Paris! For Paris, my host father took me to the train station Friday morning. I met with the other student in Caen, Arianna, and we took the train (1 hour) to Bernay. Then we got onto a bus that took us to Paris. We made two stops. First to pick up students and the second to stop for gas/bathroom/buy food. I still find it hilarious that sour patch kids are called “very bad kids” here. We got to Disney around noon. The Canadian, other Americans, the Italian, 2 Mexicans, and I found a gazebo outside of the park for lunch. We were all told to bring food so there was a surplus of French junk food.
We started with the main park (I forget what it’s called) (the one with the castle). It took some time but we finally found some rides. Then we went to the studios area and rode some more rides. I forget which were in which park, but we went on Rockin Rollercoaster, Space Mountain, that old-west mine cart thing, a car ride from Toy Story, Haunted Mansion, Buzz Lightyear shooting game, and I think that’s it(?)
Next, we ate the leftover food and did some shopping. I wanted to buy a pin for my blazer, but the cheapest was $8 so I decided against it. I did buy a beanie because I was desperate for something that said “Disneyland Paris” on it. I tried this candy that was sugar inside of what tasted like styrofoam. We all agreed it tasted pretty awful. We also ate the entire carton.
Based on the amount I wrote about it, Disney was probably my favorite part so far, but other activities have included: Juno Beach, an exchange student sleepover, and of course lots and lots of shopping/eating. This weekend, my district has planned a party at Mont St Michel for 7 districts (This means I will get to see Anna from Ohio!).
I want you all to know that none of this would be possible without you! I have already made memories and friends that I know will last a lifetime. I will continue to write to you each month with updates. Thank you so much! Merci beaucoup!