I will remember

This time last year I was off on the greatest adventure of my life so far. I learned so much while I was in Switzerland. Not only did I become proficient and confident in my second language, but I also grew as a person and saw a part of the world that took my breath away. It gave me a yearning for adventure, a love of airports and a joy of stumbling through conversations as I force my tongue to make new sounds. I know wanderlust is an overused term but this was my view of it. This is my wanderlust. I want to truly experience the world not just see it.  

I stood at the foot of the mountain pictured on the wrapper of a Toblerone chocolate bar.

Also

known

as

the Matterhorn

It’s one of the most well-known sites in Switzerland

An icon,

my camera roll is full of photos

but as I stood in it’s shadow

I come to the realization

pictures

don’t do justice.

And I remember thinking.

God. Please make this stick in my mind. So I can go back and play this day over and over like a home video, the film rolling through my brain, the images tumbling clearly as if I was seeing them for the first time. Please. Tattoo these memories, engrave them on the inside of my skull.

I want to remember

I know now

I don’t want to be a tourist

with nothing but a few photos of a

half remembered family vacation and a sunburn that disappears after a week

I

want a backpack

I want upside down maps

I want language barriers and

I want native speakers with not a word of English on their tongues

I want dirt roads

and I want to make the kind of friends who welcome you into their home

A stranger one day

and a friend

still five years later

I want to get lost in unknown cities

and find Sam in the process.

The world is wide

and it can be scary

and I know I won’t get to see it all

But I want to collect as much of it as I can

like the smooth round pebbles I used to pick up as a kid

I will slip memories into my pocket and feel

their weight as I walk,

remembering brown faces with crooked smiles and eyes

as wise as the mountains,

warm spicy scents that burn my nose

in the best possible way

I will pretend my skin still carries the dust of a country I miss

even though

it’s long since washed away.

And when I have children I will teach them

to carry backpacks

and draw their own maps

and let them get lost in the backyard to find themselves.

When I have grandchildren

I will reach into a pocket

almost forgotten

and pull out a stone.

Worn smooth as sea glass from the rubbing of fingers over the years

I will hold it like the Aboriginal chiefs

hold a totem pole to help remember the details of a legend

I will speak

let the memories rise up

smells and sights from long ago faded coming rushing back like

a river thawing in spring

I will tell them about standing in the shadow of the Matterhorn

I will tell them about a song sung round a campfire in a language I barely understood

I will tell them how I sang anyway

I will explain that I found part of Sam in a village in the south of Thailand

and another piece of her in the sand on the beaches of Peru

I will explain how bits of her were hidden in places I hadn’t expected

like the hallway of my high school

and a box

in the corner of my mother’s basement.

I will tell them I found Sam spread all over the earth

like Isis found Osiris in Egyptian times,

I will tell them to get lost

When they ask to see pictures I don’t have, I will describe

the smile of a girl whose name has long been lost and buried in the filing cabinet of my mind

but who’s smile I will never forget

or  the sound of a crowded street, people rushing about , strangers

who were really just friends I hadn’t yet met

I will describe the smell of an ocean.

I will give them a Toblerone bar

I will tell them to make friends with everyone they meet

The world is wide

I know I won’t see all of it but

I’ll try

I will collect cities and people and languages and love and I will hold them close in my pocket

And I will use them as touchstones

To remember

God. Please. Make this stick in my mind like a home video, I will rewind the tape over and over and pray I don’t wear it out. Help me to decipher the carvings I once made but now can barely recognize. Please

I will discover

and then

I will remember

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Back in the Land of Maple Syrup

Home sweet home! Sorry for the post delay, I wanted to have pictures but had temporarily “lost” my phone (it was on my chair in my French class duh)

Home
                                         Reunited with my baby sissy ❤

So as most of you probably know, I have now been back in Canada for just over a week and am not quite sure how I feel about it. As happy as a I was to see everyone, I really, really miss my friends and family in Switzerland. I miss speaking French so much. I love to think in French now as much as I can which means I accidentally start responding in French to my family sometimes. Why does English sound so harsh now? 😦 And speaking of French, I can now see just how sad and pathetic our language courses are in Canada and it’s horrible because now I have such a passion for the language and want to learn and improve and my class watched an English movie today that had zero relevance to our class. I wasn’t impressed.

Sorry, end of rant…for now 😉 #strongopinions

I was also super excited to get Benny Lewis' new book! Check out his awesome language learning blog of the same name!
I was also super excited to get Benny Lewis’ new book! Check out his awesome language learning blog of the same name!

So last week I flew home with a whole ton of other exchange students and although it was an extremely long and tiring day it actually was quite fun. The entire back of the plane was other returning exchange students and I had a group of fabulous friends that I sat with (5 to 4 seats much to the stewardess chagrin haha). There were games of life, lots of pictures, checking out cute (and very weird) boys, Franglish, laughing and generally being loud and obnoxious followed by reunions with our familys and friends. What more could ya want?

My first day home was wonderful too. Two of my bestest friends showed up and surprised me while I was still in bed so I talked their ears off for a while, got some Timmie’s and Thai, hung out with another bestest friend, bumped into a billion (okay it was four) people at Chapters, went to movie with my Marmee and sister and was jet-lagged yay! (The last part sucked. Jet-leg and I are not friends.)

So basically, I’ve just been trying to settle back into life here, catch up with friends, catch up with SCHOOL (send help) and trying not to miss Suisse toooo much. I also have to figure out what I’m going to blog about now!

This is unrelated but  I learned a new hair thing
This is unrelated but I learned a new hair thing

Late Night Thoughts and Thanks

One last Sunday afternoon roadtrip
One last Sunday afternoon roadtrip

To the teenage boy I saw full out singing along to the radio on the highway today, who smiled and waved and kept singing when he caught me staring, thank you. You made my day a little bit brighter. I think we all might be happier if we were that carefree. And you made me think of this video

Thanks to Amen for making me smile by trying to plan a surprise party that fell apart at the last minute. I know you felt terrible because you wanted my last free day to be great. It was anyway. You’re absolutely the sweetest and I can’t believe we have to say good-bye soon. You’ve made my exchange absolutely incredible.

Thanks to my host dad for saving the day and taking us for one last road trip and picnic today. You are always doing things for other people.

Thanks to my host mom for making packing just a little bit easier and not making me do it all alone. You’ve made me feel so at home these last few months

Best host family ever!
Best host family ever!

To my Marmee, thanks for getting my room ready for me to come home and just for being great, you’re the best. I can’t wait to hug you when I get home.

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To my Daddy, I couldn’t find any recent pictures of us but I wanted to thank you for giving me diverse interests and adventures growing up. Because of you I enjoyed museums and train rides here more than the average kid haha. Oh and thanks for holding shopping bags for us girls 🙂

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Mallory, my little sister, expect a running tackle hug when I get home. I’ve missed you more than anyone

My non-twin twin <3
My non-twin twin ❤

To my amazing friends who have keep me in touch with life back home and made sure I knew how much I was missed, seeing you all is one of the only things making leaving Switzerland less sad. To the other exchange students, it was amazing to always have someone to talk to who understood what I was experiencing. It was so much fun laughing and bonding over all our #exchangestudentproblems. And to the friends I’ve made here, you will never be forgotten. Thanks for not laughing at me when I couldn’t say what I wanted to say and making me feel welcome.

 

Thanks to the ladies in city centre giving out “free hugs”. You made a lot of people laugh and smile

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And to God for making such an incredible, diverse world and letting me experience it. I handed this whole experience over to You back in August trusting that You would work it out and You did. Thank you for your faithfulness. Because of You I never felt lonely.

He is an amazing artist
He is an amazing artist

So many people in my life that I’m so grateful for, I’m lucky to be so blessed. Tonight I finished packing to go home and I was really sad but I decided to look at the good rather than the bad. I couldn’t sleep so I decided to write and this is what I ended up with.

 

 

 

Happy

I know, I know, I just posted a blog this morning! But I don’t want to forget today because it was a particularly good one 🙂

As I had mentioned, it was a day off school and Amen and I had quite a few plans. This morning we got up and we (read I hehe) made fudge which turned out quite well and then in the afternoon we went to the Salon des Livres which is basically a huge book expo, right up my alley as I’m sure many of you know. It was cool to see Sarah and meet Oriane who I had heard lots about as well as meet their friend Lino who I must say was a very good sport as he doesn’t speak English and we were flipping into it a ton. So hi guys if you’re reading this! Anyway, it was a really fun afternoon and this is me and Sarah with a Canadian flag we found!

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AND THEN. Tonight Amen and I met up with Olivia and Louisa and went to the Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye show and it was just absolutely amazing! Although it’s kind of bizarre seeing people you know through Youtube perform live peoms you know so well. Olivia and I knew almost every one and we were sooooo excited to get to meet Phil and Sarah afterwards. The show was really last minute which meant it was pretty small and I felt really lucky to have gotten to go! I also can’t wait to start reading my signed copy of Sarah’s book “No Matter the Wreckage”. Also, very tempted to retry my hand at poetry, something I haven’t done in forever. The whole spoken word thing really appeals to my inner drama kid heheh.

Also today I found out through another blog I follow about the 100 Days of Happy Challenge! I’ve seen some hashtags mentioning it on Instagram but wasn’t really sure what it was all about. Basically it’s a project meant to encourage more people to see the good in their everyday lives and notice the small things that make them happy. Each day for a hundred days, you take a picture of something that makes you happy. It can even be something small like your morning coffee or seeing a friend. Anything you like! And then if you make it all hundred days, you get a little book with all your pictures in it which is pretty cool! So I’ve decided to try it starting tomorrow because hey, I like smiling and if I can find more joy in the world, why not? If you want to check it out, the link is below, have a lovely day 🙂

100 Happy Days

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Where’s The Pause Button??

Zermatt 191 Do you ever just wish you had a remote that you could use to fast forward or rewind or pause time? That’s what I’ve been feeling lately. Somehow, I feel like the last ten weeks have absolutely flown by and I can hardly believe that I only have…hang on I’ll check…5 days, 9 hours and 6 minutes left until I will be at the airport and heading back to Canada, back to my own bed, and my puppies and my family and my friends and everything I’ve missed. As excited as I am to see everyone, on the other hand I am kind of tempted to hide out in the mountains so I don’t have to leave (I’m channelling Elsa, I won’t goooo, I won’t goooo hehehe) tumblr_inline_mz93wv1FgP1qz65iu As my exchange is starting to come to an end, it’s becoming very bittersweet. I’ve come to love this country and the language and my host family and I am going to miss it soooo much! Yet I also feel like I’m ready to go home. If I was here for longer I’m sure I would love it and be fine but I’m so excited to get back to life, especially because I have so much to look forward to in the next little while! Overflow is a week and a half after I get home, I’m stoked to see my friends in FAME at the end of the month, I’ll have tons of homework to catch up on and then I’m be spending my first summer as staff at one of my favourite places on earth, Kitchi! Which, I made sure to rock my Kitchi sweater in the mountains! So even though one adventure is coming to a close I have lots to still look forward to!

Just call me Heidi #booknerd
Just call me Heidi #booknerd

Buttttt it isn’t over just yet and I plan on enjoying every last second! And I had a wonderful week last week so I’ll fill you in on that! So last week was a week of vacation for Easter and on Monday we went to Zurmatt for a day/night which was totally awesome. We drove to the foot of the mountain and then took a train up to the village because cars are forbidden there which was kind of cool. We stayed in a really cute little hotel with a view of the mountains and went hiking and ate fondue and it was kind of my one little trip of super stereotypical Swizerland.

Eating fondue for the first time in the mountains
Eating fondue for the first time in the mountains

The Tuesday we took another train up to the very top of the mountain and then hiked most of the way down. Amen and I had a lot of fun taking pictures, rolling down the hill and trying to push each other in the snow! It was really surreal though. Like I was just wandering through the Swiss Alps on a Tuesday afternoon and on one side I could see the Matterhorn (AKA the Toblerone mountain) and the mountains on the other side were Italy. LIke how is this my life?? Honestly though, this trip has made me realize how badly I want to travel. Not just week long trips where you stay in a hotel and go on excursions with 100 other tourists. I want to take a backpack and go explore and speak to people in their native languages even if I look like a fool and get lost in cities I don’t know and make new friends and see the real world. I don’t know. Just a thought I remember having when we were hiking. It was sort of, “Wow, I need to see more of what this earth has to offer. This HAS to be just the beginning”

Wednesday we were back in Geneva and it was a beautiful, warm, sunny day! We ended up at this massive park with walking trails with a bunch of friends and crashing the picnic of some more friends and playing volleyball and cards all afternoon which was lovely. The only semi bad part about the day was that I almost got into trouble with the Transport police but used my Canadian charm and my bad French accent to talk my way out of it 😉 #crisisaverted

The park empty at the end of the day
The park empty at the end of the day

Thursday and Friday were pretty low-key and kind of rainy so we just hung around and didn’t do much. And then on Saturday I went out with my friend Grace, another Canadian exchange student and we just walked around and chatted, went on a terrifying carnival ride and basically caught up. It’s cool having other people like Grace and my friend Emma whom I’ve mentioned before who are going through the same exchange experience and can relate and understand all the weird ins and outs and ups and downs! Speaking of other exchange students, tomorrow, Thursday, Amen and I are going to be meeting up with two other pairs of exchange students tomorrow for two different events. Although I was back to school this week, tomorrow is a Swiss holiday (not exactly sure for what to be honest) and school is closed. In the morning Amen and I are planning on making fudge, in the afternoon meeting up with Sarah and Oriane  and in the evening with Olivia and Louisa to see a Sarah Kay and Phil Kaye spoken word poetry show. Which is not as lame as it sounds, I promise and I am super excited! If you’ve never heard of them, you should check out this video.

So, that’s about it. I also visited the Transport musuem in Luzern and had had to start saying goodbye to people here which sucks! Overall, I had a great vacation and am trying to make the most of my last Suisse week! Here are a few photos to leave you off with from my walk to today as I’ve started saying goodbye to my favourite places as well.

That’s all folks! Thanks again for checking out my blog. Also, pretty much totally unrelated, I’ve started thinking about some ideas for what to write about after my trip is all over and done because I’m really liking blogging and I think I’ve got some ideas so stay tuned 🙂

I’m Not Dead And Neither Is Jesus

I’m back! Hellllo everyone! It’s been a while, I know and I’m sorry. I’ve been a horrible blogger lately and an even worse journal keeper…opps. I know that I’m hurting myself more than anyone else since I really want to remember as much of this trip as possible but it’s difficult between school, weekend adventures and all kinds of other fun stuff. Also, I just wanted to mention, Happy Easter! As you can see from the title, not only am I back, today so is Jesus! His return is  a billion times more amazing than mine and today I am grateful to have a Saviour who loves me as much as Jesus does. Hope you all had a great day with your families and whether you are religious or not, are grateful for the things you’ve been blessed with.

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 “For you have been my hope O Lord, my confidence since my youth” – Psalm 71:5

That all being said, here’s what I’ve been up to! If this is random, choppy or weird I apologize. It’s late, I’m tired and trying to recall these things from a while back!

Two weekends ago I went to a chocolate festival on the Saturday and on the Sunday I visited a  town called Interlaken and took a train ride through the mountains! Also, I am obsessed with The Voice France and if Team Mika doesn’t win, I’m gonna be rattled. That is my every Saturday night. The train ride was seriously so cool and I got some of the best pictures this trip. Amen and I made an attempt at a vlog but it’s literally just me asking her “Et maintenent ou allons nous?” or “Ou sommes nous?” like 20 times, not interesting at all. So these photos will have to do! Overall, it was a fantastic day and I love mountains.

I’m going to tell you everything I do during the school because, to be honest, it’s really not all that interesting! I go to school, just like in Canada and in the afternoons, I work or play on the Internet or go for walks. One interesting thing though was that I went out for dinner this past week with my English class which was fun. I’ve got to say, they are probably the most interesting group of people I’ve met. Between 10 of us, I think there were 12 different languages that could be spoken by at least one person? And also just very nice, friendly, funny people so that was fun.

Last weekend I went to a party with Amen for one of her best friend’s birthday which was interesting to say the least…I think I’ll leave it at that. I also just hung out and read. I’ve finished the first Harry Potter and am well into the sixth….don’t ask why number six, I don’t know. Then on Sunday we went to a pretty little town in France and wandered around for a while. There was a castle and a beautiful lake so I loveeeed taking pictures there even though it was sort of cloudy and rainy. Here are a few (or as many as I can manage to whittle it down to hehe) of my favourites. The first few are actually from a walk I went on!

So that just about catches you up, I am now on vacation for a week for Easter which I am very excited about! Tomorrow we are going to Zermatt for one night which is like the most famous mountain in Switzerland which I’m excited about! We might go skiing or we might just explore, we’re going to play it by ear! Hopefully this super long post didn’t bore you. Oh and one more thing (plus a few more pictures) I went and got a closer look at the famous water jet so those are the pictures. On a bit of a side note, I’ve noticed my French is steadily improving which is awesommmme. It’s not as good as I wish it was but it’s coming more naturally now and I’m catching my own mistakes before other people correct me. I’m not sure if I can call myself fluent since my grammer is still terrible but I can communicate…it’s a work in progress. Au revoir for now!

I Found My New Favourite City

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Château Chillion

I think I’m jealous of my own life. Is that possible? I’m not sure exactly how to explain it but it’s like today was so wonderful that I’m jealous of my former self. I can’t go back and live today again so I’m jealous of myself today. I have no idea if that makes any sense at all but it’s not a bad feeling. You know you’re doing life the right way when you wish you could redo your day right? Looking through all these pictures makes me want to rewind!

So today I went with my host parents (Amen had to stay home and study again *sad face*) to a town called Montreux. which is on the edge of Lake Geneva and faces a group of mountains. It’s absolutely breathtaking. I’ve passed it on my way to other places at least 3 times now, to and from Berne, to and from Zurich, to and from Sion. And every single time I’ve had the same thought; I have to go there before I leave. Today was finally that day and it was even better than I imagined. It’s the first place that I’ve been able to see myself living so clearly. All day I was thinking “I want to live here one day. I can see myself living here.” That and “Holy cow I’m blessed. Is this real life?” Haha, it’s an adorable little town and I loved it. Apparently it has an amazing jazz fest in the fall too. It’s probably one of my favourite places I’ve visited right up there with Dublin and Old Quebec City. One day, even if I don’t get to live there, I want to visit again 🙂

There’s also a famous château called Chillon right on the water that I went and walked around in with Laye. It’s amazingly well preserved and you actually feel like you’re in past. The best was the incredible views of the lake and the mountains you got when you climbed to the top of the tower! We also had a picnic lunch by the lake and then drove to the next town over, Vevey which (fun fact) is where Charlie Chaplin died! I know, I should let other people tell me they’re fun. If you didn’t get that reference, we can’t be friends sorry. Just kidding! 😉

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Me and my good friend Charlie

 

In Vevey we walked along the water front some more, visited the Food Musuem (yes, that is actually a thing) and competed in the fork contest. There is a giant fork in the lake and you had to take a picture with it…here’s mine.

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So anyway, that was my lovely day. I hope you all a had a lovely day too. I took a lot of pictures but I’ve figured out this fancy new way to display my pictures in a pretty gallery so I hope you enjoy them! If you click through, you can see the captions I’ve set for some them. Montreux and Vevey were both incredibly picturesque and worthy of having lots of pictures taken! There are also a few from yesterday when I went for a horseback ride at a farm and for a walk downtown to take typical touristy pics with the famous Geneva fountain! That’s all for now, school tomorrow which I don’t  think is something to be jealous of! But hey, make the most of everyday right? 🙂

Spring in Suisse

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Normally, I would say spring is my least favourite season. I might even go as far as to say I hate it. But Canadian spring is not like it is here. In Canada, spring is wet and muddy and cold and gray. The snow melts and then we get more. And then you start to see grass and the next morning it’s covered in frost. We kind of skip over any kind of nice springtime and head straight to summer by the time the weather warms up. Spring here in Switzerland is the kind of spring Canadians dream of. It’s warm (most days at least) and sunny and you can see the regrowth everywhere. It’s fresh, it’s full of new life and it just makes you happy because everywhere you turn there are flowers blooming and trees budding and literally birds singing all the time. Walking to school is like walking through a rainbow, the blue sky, the green grass and trees and flowers in yellow, purple, pink, orange and white. Add in the mountains in the background and the old looking houses with iron gates and I feel like I’m in a fairytale. All. The. Time. Nope, actually scratch that, Heidi. I feel like I’m in Heidi. I’ve always associated mountains with that story. #BookwormProblems (By the way if you haven’t read Heidi, go read it. It’s by Johanna Spyri and it’s a classic, wonderful book)

Suffis to say, the weather has been amazing and I’ve spent countless hours reading out on the back porch (in French of course!) and going for long walks in the sunshine. Even this weekend when it rained I didn’t really mind because spring rain is a special kind of rain which much to Amen’s chagrin, I love! The sound of it hitting the ground and the roof, the warm earthy smell, the warm, humid air after it stops is just wonderful. And again, much to the shock of my host family I went for a walk, in the rain. I can’t explain exactly why  I love it but it’s like the earth is getting refreshed and I am too you know? I’m not sure if that even makes sense. Overall, what I’m trying to say is that I’m loving spring.

Image The view from the balcony

This weekend I went to the Geneva Museum of Natural History with Amen and the did a little bit of shopping on Saturday. On Sunday I went to the Botanical Gardens which were amazing. I only got to see part of them so I am definitely hoping to go back. I took so many pictures! Also today, I went for a run/power walk which I know will be a shock for everyone who knows how lazy I am. But seriously, with a view like this, how can you complain?

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Believe or not, this is right in the middle of Geneva, the second largest city in the country. I discovered it completely by luck, walking straight out of a residential area into what appears to be the middle of nowhere!

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So, to sum it all up, it’s been a good week. Here are some of my favourite pictures. I hope you’re having a lovely day, until next time my friends 🙂

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Museum of Natural History

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Central Park and Botanical Gardens 

 

20 Differences Between School in Canada and Switzerland

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Hello everyone! Today I am writing about all the things I’ve noticed that are different about high school ( or collège ) in Switzerland than they are in Canada. I’m obviously not going to explain the entire schooling system because it’s very different from ours and a bit complicated (it’s taken me this long to get it all straight) but there are some very obvious dfferences! Sorry if it’s pretty random, I’m just writing them as I remember. Also, none of these things are meant to be negative. Different doesn’t mean better or worse,  just…different! 🙂

1. Number one is the reason I’m sitting in my bedroom on a Thursday morning at 11 am writing this blog post! Forget supply teachers, if a teacher is sick, class is cancelled and the students are free to study in the library, go home or really do whatever they want. No French class for me today!

2. So that last sentence was a lie, I actually have FOUR hours of French on Thursdays so I only got out of two. Why only on Thursdays? Because in Switzerland, your “program” changes everyday. Unlike in Canada where (if you go to a semester school like me) you have 4 classes at the same time everyday for 5 months, in Switzerland, you have different classes everyday of the week! It can be pretty confusing. For example, On Mondays I have art, history, French and English. Then I’m done with art and history for the week! Thursdays to contrast are English, French, Gym and French. (I have French almost everyday “yay”)

3. HALF DAY WEDNESDAYS. The absolute best thing about school here. At 11:30 on Wednesday, school is over and all the students are freeeee! It’s actually great because it’s like you start school on Monday and then it’s only two days until Wednesday. and after Wednesday, it’s only two days until the weekend! It make the school week that much more bearable.

4. Long hours. Enough said. No thank you, I would like to finish school before 4:30 in the afternoon. However, because of the changing programs, you can sometimes get out at 2:30, or not start until 10. My program however sucks and I don’t get any of that. I just love having more classes than my exchange partner! *not*

5. The actual school itself. Obviously not all schools are the same here or in Canada, so this is a direct comparison between JOA and Saussure. My collège here is pretty strange for me. Basically, if you disconnected all the hallways in JOA and stacked them on on top of the other, stuck the cafeteria underneath and the gym underground, you would have an idea of what Saussure is like. It is in total, 8 stories high and you can take the stairs or use the student elevators (just don’t use the teacher one by accident like I did, oops!) There are 4 gyms, and the library takes up most of the 3rd floor. It’s very different and easy to forget what floor you are on as they all look very much the same.

6. Gym class is taken so much more seriously here. Like I’ve been climbing ropes, doing handstands off a meter high board, flips, and balance beams and swinging on loops hanging from the ceiling. Cause we’re all gymnasts right? Also, it’s obligatory for all four years of school. Here are some pictures of my class.

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6. Speaking of obligatory, the kids here basically have no choice in what classes they take. You choose between German, Art or Music and you can pick Spanish or Italian. That’s really the extent of it. Enjoy chem, physics, math, english, french, geography, history etc for all four years. Collège itself however isn’t mandatory however and you have to have certain grades to get into high school. Otherwise, you can go straight into the workforce, get an apprenticeship etc.

7. You start/finish school one year later. I’m in a third year English class and they are all 17 and 18 (as opposed to 16/17 year old gr. 11’s in Canada)

8. You are with the same class all day, everyday. While the program changes everyday, the kids in your classes do not. With the few exceptions of art or Spanish (one of the few options) you are with the same group of students for every class for the entire year, much like elementry school. This makes catching up if you’re away easier I guess but if you aren’t in the same class as your friends it could be pretty sucky. There’s also the issue of gender imbalance as Amen’s class has only three guys in it and her friend’s has only 3 girls…who made these classes???

9. The marking system is odd as well. No precentages, you get a “note” between 1 and 6. Why 6? I have no idea. But you can only get a whole number or a half number. For example, you can get a 4 or a 4.5 not like a 4.8 or something. Strange but I guess it works for them. Oh and there’s no credits so you either pass or fail the entire year. About 40% of students repeat the last year at least once!

10. I know I already said gym was super serious, but honestly all the classes are. These kids do homework all night, every night, the workload is seriously crazy. If I ever hear anyone at JOA complain again…

11. Teachers are way more respected and have a lot more…authority I guess you would say. You would never talk back to a teacher here. All the kids sit quietly and listen and don’t talk in class. If you are talking, the teacher can just tell you to get out, I’ve seen it happen. In Canada, a lot of us (depending on the teacher obviously) are almost friends with the teachers, you can joke around with some of them and have fun in the class. There is definitely none of that here. It’s really strange. The only teacher I’ve meet here even close to acting like a teacher back home is my English teacher who I really like. The rest are very…cold I guess is a good way to put it towards the students and the students treat them extremely respectfully. Teachers show up 5- 10 minutes late all the time too and the class just waits but if you are late, the prof doesn’t have to let you in. Also, my French teacher looks exactly like John from Lost. That is all.

12. This is pretty irrelevant but they don’t really ever use lined paper. It’s all graph paper. And it (the binders) have only two holes, close together in the middle. As I said, irrelevant but still something I noticed.

13. Almost everyone smokes. I hate it. But there are little balconies on either side of the building on every floor specifically for that. It’s also legal to smoke and drink at 16, just thought I’d add that. But you have to be 18 to drive so haha!

14. No lockers. There are a few but they are less then a square foot and you have to pay to use them.

15. Because there are no lockers as mentioned, the walls are bare (okay not bare, they’re actually covered in student paintings which is cool) and so everyone just sits down in the hall. People walking just step over/around. It’s completely normal for an entire class to just be chilling on the floor outside the class.

16. “Poses”. I love this. Halfway through class, a bell rings and everyone gets up and leaves for a few minutes to get a drink, use the bathroom etc. It’s great because you get a nice little break. However, because of that, you can’t ask to leave in class for anything, you have to wait for the pose. AND THE BELL IS LIKE IN GREASE. Sorry, side note. The bell is like ding, ding, ding! Just like in the movie Grease when the principal wanted to make an announcement! Anyway, I like that.

17. No uniform! This only applies for Canadian Catholics school kids like me but is still awesome enough to mention!

18. The caf sells fresh pastries. Enough said #painauchocolate

19. PDA is over the top. Ew.

20. And finallllly. Everything is in French! Shocker! Sorry, I just didn’t want to have an uneven number of facts :p

So that’s about all I can think of for the moment, although I’m sure I’m missing some. Some of these differences are big and some of them aren’t, some are probably specific for JOA or Saussure and some could probably relate to every exchange student. Overall, school here has a very different atmosphere. Much more serious and in some ways I think students here have less freedom than back home. I know this was a longgggg post and some of it probably wasn’t very interesting…and no pretty pictures, sorry ’bout that! I’m still new to this blogging thing! Hopefully you made it that far and are left feeling grateful for the education you got/are getting because that’s what being here has made me! While I really like being here and school is interesting for a few months, I miss JOA and have come to appreciate the school system back home a lot. We have a lot of choice and are more allowed to be individuals.

Anyway, that’s the end! I’ve got to get back for gym class soon, pray I don’t break anything! Also shoutout to my sister for being awesome! If you’re reading this, I miss and love you a lot Mal! Have been thinking about you today and how proud I am to call you my little sis! Can’t wait to get back to our Thursday night sister dates, annoying each other, talking about life and forcing you to hug me 🙂

Hope everyone has a great day today 🙂

P.S. I’m reading Harry Potter en fracais and am rattled by the fact that “Hogwarts” has been changed to “Poudlard” Not impressed translator man, not impressed