Salut! My name is Ruby and I am 17 years old. I will be going to France for a long-term exchange (2017-2018 school year). In the USA, where I have grown up in Upper Arlington Ohio, I have developed a love for literature and writing. And I know that the best writing comes from adventurous and life, with expanded horizons. I hope that is something my exchange will bring—new creativity in the pursuit of being one with the culture. I am a big individualist and I love talking about the environment. I hope my exchange will give me a new perspective on language as well (in a not high school environment) and I’m excited to learn in a real and personal way. I want to thank the UA Rotary and I can’t describe how this has changed everything for me in the best way possible. I am so blessed to have been introduced to the program and as result I know I am graduating high school with and unreal amount of worldliness and moments of exploration beyond compare. I never could have come across an opportunity that would leave me with as real of a high school experience as this one. There is no way for me to express the gratitude for the moments to come and the people who helped me get here.
October 1, 2017
I’m writing this to say thank you for all the support the rotary has given me to make this trip happen. I can’t believe I’ve already been here one month. I remember the first weekend when I was making the big decision of whether or not to go abroad or not. It’s been the most incredible month, I’ve met other exchange students all of which were totally unique culturally and personality, but everyone relates in such a real way, everyone just got along so great. I’ve found it to be such an experience to be apart of a program that connects you to others experiencing the same things, I really look forward to the weekends here, I really want to spend more time getting to know people having made the same decision to go abroad. I’ve seen countless things that were stunning for me and even better in an everyday environment. I’m now preparing to go to Greece with my class, it’s better than i could have ever imagined, truly surreal. I’ve been thinking a lot about how much of a learning experience this is, I really would say to anyone looking to truly learn something, many things. Exchange is the way to go, to come back with the knowledge of two separate worlds. It’s incredibly exciting to get closer to that everyday. I’ve loved getting to know my host parents, I think I will be sad when I have to switch but I’m also excited because it’s more relationships to make and more of a reason to really feel grounded being here. I cannot wait until my language starts to come in stronger, I’ve already had some of the most interesting conversations, really thought provoking. But I’m excited to have reached that point when my thoughts even are in french. Ive truly been blessed to have been introduced to Rotary Youth exchange, and I really want to say thank you. This truly has changed my high school experience and my life. I can’t believe so much has happened in a month, can’t wait to see what i will come back within a year.
November 1, 2017
I have seen so many amazing things, it’s insane how much happens in two months. It’s strange even when it gets tough and you keep going, and you are never expecting the moments you have after. The other day i got to go to Montpellier, and its been getting tougher now I’ve been starting to miss my mom and things like that. But the then we got to montpellier and i was on the train and i as we entered the city, i could see all the white roman style architecture all the different shops, i missed the city so much it it left such an impression to see a place like that. Im convinced european cities are the most amazing places. And when i went to visit the grandparents I got to see this museum with my host mom and host grandmother, the house was built in 1430, it was used as a royal court room and it had painted portraits on the walls and the symbol of the family who lived there. But now it is a museum of both ancient and modern art, absolutely amazing. And as my french is improving so if my comfortability with talking and being social, it’s the best because you’re not just experiencing a new culture you’re also sharing yours, something I didn’t think about before as being as important as it is. There’s nothing I like more than when people ask me questions about the U.S, definitely coming here has given me an appreciation for where I come from as well as France, because I notice things I miss and I see things i know i will miss. I’ve seen things that are far older than the country I come from, something that really puts things into perspective. The art here is amazing, because there is not only a culture around modern art, but old ancient art as well. I love that part of my exchange, I see things i couldn’t where I come from. It’s been hard for sure, but it just makes me excited for when i get super comfortable. The coolest thing about this program is that you get to be apart of two separate worlds all at once, that’s definitely something I’ve learned. And through that you make super good friends from everywhere. I see people here who never leave France here, and I see people like that all the time in the U.S. And i see how segregated the two places are even though I’m apart of both, one of the coolest most thought provoking experiences. I just saw you asked for photos in your last email so I’ve attached some at the bottom.
the photo down below is a picture of something I love that my host parents make all the time (pumpkin soup).
Here’s a photo of an old building in the south of France and used to be a public bath house( it was so beautiful) Here’s a photo of me and Sherlyn (she’s from mexico) And you can see the Mont saint Michel in the background(it was the rotary mont saint michel trip).
December 1, 2017
My exchange is definitely getting harder but i think it’s gonna be super rewarding as a result.I have been planning trips and getting really excited for the rest of my exchange. I just went on a trip to Greece, we spent one week looking at old roman relics and learning about Greeks history, and walking around Athens. I discovered that greek coffee is the best coffee, and that there are people that spend their lives preserving history, making sure we don’t forget, and keeping in tact things that were once present. And i made really good friends on that trip, in a language i once was super uncomfortable with. That’s probably the best part, that my language is coming in so much stronger, it makes me realize how much i have learned while being here. Ive made friends from all over the world, that I became close to so quickly. Ive traveled across France to visit those friends, probably one of the best parts of my exchange. All of this only inspires more wanting to travel. Im now awaiting eurotour were i get to travel across Europe with some of my best friends, and I’m planning to finish my exchange coming along with the rotary to visit a town in England, i couldn’t be more excited. This last weekend I was with my friend from Mexico, who will after this year speak three languages fluently, and we talked about america and the things we missed, and all the millions of little differences between here and america.I know that I have been super blessed, because i get to do all of this in one year. Although homesickness has started, i think it makes me super appreciative of the things back home i didn’t realize i loved so much. Even though it’s hard i love France, and i see and notice things I’m gonna miss when i come home already. Once again thanks for everything.
January 1, 2018
Merry Christmas from France! As you know i was in the process of switching schools when i last wrote one of these. And its know a full month since i changed and so far it’s going really really well. It feels like my days are starting to go by faster and faster. I’ve made awesome friends, people that i think i will be sad to leave behind and the amount of time I spend at the house is smaller and smaller. With christmas break im going to visit my friend who lives in Milau whos from Mexico, and celebrating with my host family just before I switch, getting excited about my second host family who lives in a little town called marvejols. I feel like my exchange has completely turned around, and i have so much to look forward to. Like my mom coming to visit me in february! We are going to spend a week at paris together, i can’t tell you how much it means to me that she’s coming. Although the holidays have been kinda rough, with missing family i got too send a package back home full of stuff from when i was in greece and stuff from here for my family, which helped a lot. I feel like in no time it will be time for eurotour (which im convinced will be the best 2 weeks). I have experienced a whole new school system as well, i’m taking literature based classes such as philosophy, which wasn’t offered at my school in the U.S. Can’t believe this has become my normal, which it really has, it really has been such an experience.
February 1, 2018
Cant believe its already five months that i’ve been here. My exchange is starting to go by so so much faster, and i cant believe im already halfway through. My new school is still going awesome, i’ve made amazing friends, ones that i’m gonna be super sad to leave behind. I’m just getting adapted in my new family and it’s going really really well, i have a host brother and sister now which is fun and tiring at the same time. And now i think it’s going to start going by even faster, with my mom coming and eurotour around the corner. I’m so grateful for this experience and for having the chance to know all these people. I don’t have any issues with language anymore other than little words and things,i can tell it’s finally paid off all my work for language because i feel so comfortable speaking, and im not afraid to do things that i was before . I can’t wait to see and experience more, and get as much traveling in as possible before the end of my exchange. This has really been an incredible experience.
March 1, 2018
Im now in my 6th month of exchange. I cant believe its going by so fast. I remember the first meeting to sign up for being an exchange student, it’s so strange to think in 3 months I will be heading back home. I have now come to a point were i have made best friends, I love my school days and getting to see everyone every day. I have the most amazing art and philo classes, which take up most of my week. I feel like the environment has really school as opened me up in terms of art and clothes, i am super grateful, and excited to see how the next few months play out. I got to go see paris with my mom, I think its my favorite city i have seen so far, everything is beautiful and because i live in the country here it was really nice to get to be in the city for a while, and even better with my mom. It was truly a magical week. I got to see picasso’s art and many awesome art museum filled with famous old paintings, my mom discovered french cheese and expensive clothes. My second favorite city other than toulouse. My mom got to meet my friends and get a little glimpse of my life here in France, it was awesome. I can’t wait until england and eurotour in may and april, im really having the time of my life.