Saturday, November 24, 2012

Lyon and 3rd Month

Bonjour tout le monde! (Hello everyone!)

After the month of November doing lots of difficult French homework, extra French grammar exercises PLUS keeping up with all of my activities, I have finally rewarded myself by going to Lyon today with my friends and their parents!

First, we went to the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière which is known to be the symbol of the city as it sits noticeably on top of Fourvière hill.  The hike up to the Fourvière was quite an exercise as there was a long and steep stairway, but it was worth it!

The stairs of Montée des Chazeaux up to the Fourvière
The entire structure - Romanesque and Byzantine design and the gilded statue of Virgin Mary - was so impressive that I literally FROZE in front of the gigantic masterpiece.   Apparently, there was a shrine way back in 1170 (so over 800 years ago) dedicated to the Virgin Mary on the same hill, but the Fourvière replaced it and was consecrated in 1896 to fulfill the city council's vow to the Virgin Mary.   There were several vows made to the Virgin Mary that contributed to the construction of the Fourvière.  One of them was that if the city is protected by the Franco-Prussian War (1870), a basilique would be built, entirely dedicated to her. (Funny enough, the Prussians never reached to attack Lyon but the vow was fulfilled anyways.)
Front of the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière
One of the many statues of the Virgin Mary of the Fourvière

Bottom floor of the Fourvière

Hill-top view of the city of Lyon

After the Fourvière, we visited the Théâtre Romain which was capable of seating about 10 000 spectators back in 1st century AD when there were musicals performed on stage! (I'm not sure if it can seat that many spectators now since there are only remains of the théâtre.)  We also went to the Musée Gallo-Romains which was really neat since we learned about the history of how the first people of Lyon, the Romans, have arrived and began to create the magnificent city.


Le Théâtre Romain (Roman Theatre)
Even more, we visited the Cathédrale St. Jean and Vieux Lyon.  It was so marvelous to walk down the narrow cobblestone streets because it felt like we were living in history.  Thanks to UNESCO (United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture) for listing Vieux Lyon and even the Fourvière as a World Heritage Site, the area is well protected and is preserving the antiquity of Lyon.

Cathédrale St. Jean
Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon)
This month has definitely been a busy month for me; especially the work at the lycée!  Some classes are extremely challenging like Français and Histoire et Geographie because of the complicated French terminologies and the rapidly speaking professeurs.  Now I realize how it feels like when you don't understand anything during class!  Hopeless!  Stupid!  Distressed!  I also realized that these feelings occur to any students across the world and not just foreign students.  Perhaps it's a lot more pressure for the regular students because students especially here in France face intense pressure since grades are after all, creators of their identities which allows them to compete for spots in universities and jobs.  (My lycée grades do not affect my Canadian grades, thank goodness!)

The third month is a weird month for an exchanger.  A really weird month... at least for me.  I believe that I have recently hit one of my toughest points of this exchange, which was how I felt like a failure at my host-language.  I kept thinking about how I've been here in France for three months already, and I still can't grasp the French language well.  Constantly, I've asked myself if I should be working harder or perhaps I need to find better ways to improve my French.  Sometimes, I felt ashamed and embarrassed when I didn't understand when my French friends, teachers and host parents talked with me.  I didn't want to admit that I've wasted three months of not learning enough French.  Though at the same time, I've told myself that I shouldn't admit that is true.  After all, I've managed to settle with my first host family successfully, create many friends and join many activities.  I've also faced culture-shock, yet I haven't felt homesick.  These first three months have been an incredible adventure and I am proud of myself for doing everything I can do.  But anyways, these mixed feelings bounced back and forth and it was very troublesome.

Exchange is tough.  However, I must always remind myself that exchange is amazing as well.  I must remind myself that exchange is a life-time opportunity where I have the chance to learn important life lessons and the world.  Especially with the Rotary Youth Exchange program and it's well-constructed design, I certainly know that it's such a privilege to be here.  I've even received support from two Canadian Rotexes who went to France, and I feel so lucky.  I've learned that being separated from my real family and Canadian friends let me practice a life-skill: to make decisions using my own, sincere opinions (and perhaps with some influence from my home and host country!)

So I've told myself that I shouldn't worry about my level of my host language right now.  Instead, I've told myself to keep working using my best effort like always, and I shouldn't complain if I don't reach 100% as long as I know that I've tried.  Besides, I still have time till July so there's no need to give up yet!

Although I haven't posted anything since the beginning of November, I would like to thank to all of my readers for continuing to read my blog everyday.  I am so happy to share my adventure with you and I hope you are enjoying to see how I am doing.  Merci beaucoup!

I am determined more than ever.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Dijon, un Chateâu et Beaune

Today was another wonderful day of my two weeks of le vacance.  A very kind Rotarian and his wife invited me to go to the 82nd Foire Internationale et Gastronomique de Dijon, which is the hugest economic event of Burgundy, bringing about 600 exhibitors that welcome all age groups.  There were plenty of presentations of various French cuisine, furniture, crafts, fashion, health and beauty, leisure and recreation.  The event was so ginormous that we even got lost once!

This is JUST the cuisine section...
Adorable French house decor ♥
For lunch, I ate bull meat for the first time which is traditionally eaten in southern France.  It almost tastes like beef so it was no biggie like the pizza I had in Chalon-sur-Saône!  Later, I decided to try myrtille waffle because (I thought) I never tried a myrtille before.  It was really tasty and I learned that myrtilles are something like blueberries, but I realized how stupid I was when I came home because google translate told me that myrtilles are blueberries after all.  Oh goodness.  Also, the Rotarian's wife generously offered to buy apple cider for me and assured me that there was no alcohol in it.  However, I assert that there was something odd in that apple cider because it stung my nose so much!  Despite the pain (which was probably visually evident), I drank the whole beverage and smiled like it was the best drink in the world.  Ma vie.

The mysterious apple cider and myrtille waffle
After much walking and getting lost, we left Dijon for a wine chateâu for just a little peek.  I was surprised to see that there were wine books written in Japanese sold in the boutique store there.

The front of the chateâu
Fields and fields and fields of vineyards
Lastly when it was night, we also stopped by the "Capital of Burgundy wines" known as the town of Beaune.  In the town centre, almost all the stores sell wine or something related to wine.  We just walked in the streets and a store, but I enjoyed it so much because the rainy and tranquil night had an antique and romantic feel.  I would love to visit again if I have the chance.


I am so grateful that the Rotarian and his wife took me along today because nothing could have been better.  I was more than blessed especially when they both said to me in French that I was their daughter for today.  Maybe it sounds childish, but as an exchange student who was told of that they're more than just guests, their pleasure of having me really made me feel belong somewhere.

À bientôt,