Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Little Over 100 Days Left

Salut à tous!  I have moved to my third and last host family last weekend!  Oh gosh it's so sad how time is flying by quickly like wind.  I just have just a little over a 100 days left.  (And yes, I'm already counting down.)  Before leaving my wonderful second host family, we spent two awesome weekends together:  One in the department of Nièvre and Yonne of Bourgogne and the other on a mountain at the France-Swiss border.

The weekend in Nièvre and Yonne of Bourgogne was fantastic.  Now, I have taken a look at the entire region and I feel so happy!  We left on a Friday (it was still winter break) and visited the city of Nevers of Nièvre where we ate really delicious food at an Indian restaurant.  (So French style, I know.)  After, we passed by the ancient city center and the Loire river where we lost our sense of direction several times!  Unlike the block-style roads in Canada, the roads in Europe are curvy and unpredictable so you can never guess correctly where you'd end up all the time.

Nevers was known to be the French capital of faïencerie (pottery) which had successful reputation especially during the seventeenth century.  One of the well-known pottery manufactures called "Faïencerie Georges" was opened back in 1898, and it was where the symbol of the double knotted green bow was designed.  Now, there are many boutiques that sell prestigious pottery like plates, teacups and more.

Next, we drove to a small village of 5000 called Chateauneuf (still in Nièvre) where we stayed till Sunday at a friend's house.  I really don't know why, but for some reason, this department is THE France that I imaged before my exchange began.  The sunny weather with a bit of cloud, pebble stoned bridges, rolling hills, bits of forest here and there, sky-blue old fashioned bicycles with a straw basket in front... everything almost was there except for the umbrellas with frills and French moustached men wearing a Beret... PLUS a fresh baguette tucked under their arms.  (Uh-huh, can't forget that.)  By then I realized that these stereotypes of France barely exist! 

Before heading home, we drove north into the department of Yonne to a gorgeous village called Vézelay.  The entire settlement sits on a hill, having it's UNESCO recognized historical monument, the Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, placed at the highest point.  I could say that it was like the world-wide known Mont St. Michel but without the sea.  If you can't go the St. Michel, then Vézelay is one of the must-go places when you come to France because it's so spendid!

The weekend after, we passed the Jura mountains (in case you forgot, the mountains that are next to the Swiss Alps but miniature) and arrived at the base of a mountain named La Dole.  There, we hiked up with snowshoes with an Australian Rotary Youth Exchange student and her sympathetic host family to enjoy a picnic lunch at the peak!  In fact, I met the Australian student by chance at Les Marais when I went skiing with my host sister and our friends!  (The end of:  Thanks to the internet and my Rotary business card, we were able to meet together again!
La Dole is 1 677.2 m high and sits right next to the French-Swiss border, on the Swiss side.  So I was officially in Switzerland!  Luckily the weather was nearly perfect!  ("Nearly", because the peak was deadly windy and freezing cold!!)  BRRRRRRR!!!!!  (Where did my immunity to Canadian winter go?)

Past this sign, it's Switzerland!
So much snow!!
Incredible, breath-taking view of the Swiss Alps
The city of Geneva is visible down on the right side
and Mont Blanc stands at 4 810.45m high just above the word "right".
LUNCH!! ♥  Right to Left:
Host sister of Australian, the Austalian, me and my host sister

Proud representatives!!
A video of the four of us sliding down a steep hill
(Includes some screaming, so watch out for the volume!)
This was one of my last weekends with my second host family and we've had such a memorable time together.  They are warm-hearted people who make my exchange year incredible.  Except, they're also more than "people" too because they consider me as part of their family.  Being part of a family is completely different from being a guest.  A guest relates to being an outsider, but welcomed to a certain extent.  However, being part of a family makes you feel that you're a real family member.  They're fully open to you and they express with honesty though it may not always agree with your opinions.  But that's better than holding back the truth.  Together, we discover about each other.  Together, we self-reflect and make changes of ourselves.  Together, we somehow become one despite our background differences.  And that, my readers... is why I love them.

Merci, ma gentille soeur.  Tu me manques.
C'était un aventure inoubliable avec toi.
A bientôt,
Sari ♥

ps: I did a skype call to the 2013 March Orientation held in Calgary for the Rotary Youth Exchange students of 2013/2014!  (Here's last year's:  It was so cool to be on the big screen because I imagined myself to be there last year when I was just an outbound student.  (In Rotary language, a pre-exchange student.)  Bonne Chance to all those exchangers!  Exchange is EXTRAORDINARY!!!


  1. Looks like you are having a FABULOUS time Sari. You have been given a wonderful opportunity to travel with your host families and friends too, which is great. Continue having fun and exploring! Janet

    1. Thank you for the kind comment! I sure will keep enjoying my exchange till the end!!