Saturday, January 5, 2013

Nouvelle Année dans le NOORRRD!!!

Bonne année et bonne santé à tous!
(Happy New Years and good health to all!)

Just returned from one of the most unique trips out of my entire exchange: the north of France. 
You might expect that the weather is much colder and perhaps it would be snowing, but during my stay there, it didn't snow at all (which is unusual according to the locals there) so the weather was quite nice.  It was much warmer than Canmore, let's say.

In a small car, my host family and I (plus my host sister's pet rabbit Simba) travelled 5 hours all the way to the city of Cambrai.  For the most part of the car ride, it was along France's toll roads known as autoroutes which vehicles are permitted to speed up to 130km/h.  Not exactly the same system compared to the highways in Banff National Park!  There are some wildlife here in France like deer, but not as diverse back in the Rocky Mountains.  It's weird to not see any mountains during the entire car ride too!  The north of France especially has a flat landscape so you can always see the lights of neighbouring villages during the night.

We stayed at the house of my host sister's grand-parents who live in a village one minute away from Cambrai.  They live in a large house (almost big enough to be called a mansion) next to their farm.  It is a milk-producing farm so they have 35 cows producing about an average of 33 litres per day!  There is a separate building where there are machines that extract milk out of the cows into a large tank, and another where there are a few calfs.  The grand-parents sell some of their milk to large milk enterprises and also produce butter for themselves.

It was really interesting to spend some days of "farm life" but oh my goodness... the smell was absolutely HORRIBLE near the cows!!  If you never had experienced true country-style life, I swear the smell is the (only) thing you will complain about.  The moment I stepped in the milk-extracting building for the first time, I wasn't able to breathe!  It doesn't mean that the place was filthy and unsanitary - it's just how it is.  It was really funny because the grand-father who gave me a tour of his farm asked if I was alright, so I painfully grinned and replied, "Ouais, ça va!" (Yeah, alright!) but he simply nodded and completely believed in me.  Oh papi, you can't smell it?!
Milk-extracting building where my throat clogged up.  Literally.
Salut Biloute!
(In French chti version spoken in the North meaning, Hello friend!)
The baby calf who was born a day ago.  I was lucky to see an animal 
being born for my first time!  It can already walk one hour after his birth!
La Baraque à Frite where famous French fries are sold!
Skating on REAL ice for the first time in France (finally) at the Patinoire de Cambrai!
The ice of some patinoires are made of artificial plastic like in Louhans,
which was really weird for me as a figure skater!


The northern region being relatively close to Great Britain, Belgium and Germany, it is evident that there was lot of war held in this region.  I went to visit a cemetery of Canadian soldiers of WWI, and it felt so unique to be where history took place.  Just over a half a year ago, I was learning about it my social studies class, and here I am now actually in the area!  This kind of shift for me has been an incredible experience.

"The land on which this cemetery stands is the free gift of the French people for the perpetual resting place of those of the allied armies who fell in the war of 1914-1918 ad are honoured here."

I visited the Centre Historique Minier du Nord Pas de Calais (charcoal museum) located in a town named Lewarde.  It is known as the most largest coal mine that used to operate in France since between 1930 and 1971!  I learned that back then, charcoal was an important supply for the industrial revolution as it contributed to the function of steam engines used for trains, etc.

The tour does not take visitors to the real mining areas underground but instead
through a well-constructed replication of it.

Also I visited an endive (French endive/chicory) farm which was interesting because endives are best grown in the dark to retain its white colour and grown between fall till spring.  It's not grown in the summer because it's too hot!


For a day, my host sister and I went to Lille to see my French friend, Bonnie!

Took the TGV to Lille with my host sister! 
 "Nord-Pas de Calais" is the name the northern region.
Centre-ville of Lille!  Absolutely fascinating!

Me, my host sister and a Rotary Youth Exchange student from Thailand

Bonnie and I, friends together since Canada

The last time I saw her was back in May in Canada because she was a Rotary exchange student of my home district, 5360.  We were both so happy to see each other this time in France!  It was great to hear how she re-integrated back to France and how she managed to return to what we exchangers would call "regular", "boring", and "normal" life.  However she is back into hard-core study mode in first year of Medicine, so she is happily working hard to continue life in France.  She explained that coming back home may not make any exchanger happy, but the fact how exchange took place in our lives is something that we should be very grateful about.  Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened!


So there we go through the adventures of Sari.  Keep sitting down and enjoy the show, cause we're ONLY about half way through now, so there's more to come.

From your fellow explorer,


  1. Hi ! I guess you don't know me, i'm Estelle and i'm on exchange in Australia with the Rotary. You met an Australian girl called Sherrin while you were in Les Marais. She's actually staying at my place in France, and my mum, who was excited to randomly meet another exchange student, gave me your blog ! I hope you're having an amazing time in our beautiful France :)

    (I also have a blog, if you want some reading in French haha : )

    Bye ! :D

    1. Enchantée!! Ouais!! J'ai rencontré par hasard tes parents et Sherrin à Les Marais, et j'etais très heureuse aussi! Je ne savais jamais que je pouvais rencontrer un autre étudiant d'échange du Rotary comme ça!!
      J'ADORE ton pays et je vraiment profite mon séjour ici. Et toi, profite-tu ton séjour en Australie? J'ai vu ton blog, et c'est fantastique! Je vais continuer à le lire. J'espère que vous, toi et Sherrin, apprécierez vos echanges!!!