Birthday in quarantine?!

Yo it’s Katie and welcome back to my blog 🙂

So today (April 17th)  I’ve been on my exchange for a full three months! 

I’m gonna start the blog by talking about what everyone’s probably most curious about and that is how the corona virus has impacted my exchange. On March 16th, France entered stage 4 confinement, where all schools and stores except for essentials were all closed. It’s been like that for now a month, and during this time, however, a lot has happened. So most of my classes are now online , my favorite is online PE haha. It’s my favorite because the teacher just uploaded some exercises for us to try so it’s fairly simple and fun to do. 

The hardest thing about confinement so far is not being able to go outside and visit my exchange friends.  4 people have left my district and have returned home to their own countries now. Because of the virus all the Rotary events were cancelled including my Eurotour :(. 

However, confinement hasn’t been all that bad. I’ve been able to experience a lot of new things while still staying at home. I moved host families for the first time!  I want to say a huge thank you to my first host family, the Trudeau’s, for hosting me in my first months of exchange and all the amazing trips and movie screenings you took me on. I want to say another thank you to my current host family, the Payton- Merles, for hosting me. My host family I am now with is actually my third host family!  I will be staying with them until confinement is over then I will move to my second host family and be with them until August. 

My new host family has 4 children; Dianne (7) , Roman (11) , Anna (16) and Tristan (17). This has been a new experience for me because I’ve never lived with more than one sibling as well as I’ve never had any younger sisters ( my last host family had a 15-year-old daughter called Sozic!) It’s been so fun to be an older sister.  My two younger sisters (Dianne and Roman) like to rollerblade in the backyard! I watched French Netflix with my host sister and we just finished watching the reality tv show called “The Circle”. My host brother is going to be an exchange student in America later this year so we’ve been busy talking about exchange. I speak complete French with my host siblings and try to speak the most French I can with my host parents if I don’t understand a sentence or a phrase they explain to me in English. I feel like my French has improved so much already from February! 

I’ve been with this host family for two weeks and here are some things I have experienced:

PIZZA HUT – the first week I was here we had Pizza Hut for dinner it’s pretty similar to Australian Pizza Hut or Domino’s however the French use more cheese on their pizzas and use thicker meats (idk how to explain it aha) 

My 16th birthday! (I won’t say too much about it now but keep reading and I’ll tell you how amazing the day was! P. S there was a lot of chocolate cake!) 

An at-home haircut and hair dye session. My host mum gave my hair a trim and my host dad dyed my hair dark brown for me!  (pictures will be included at the bottom) 

My new hair aha
Hair before the dye

My first non-Australian Easter! 

I want to thank again my amazing host family again for providing me with all these experiences :).  

While we are on the topic of experiences, on April 6th I turned 16 (in quarantine). So, when I woke up my siblings wished me a “Bonne anniversaire”, which is a happy birthday in French. I had a facetime call with my mum and she sent me a video which her and my brother edited. The video had all my family and friends wishing me a happy birthday!  It was the coolest gift and made my cry happy tears seeing everyone’s faces. It was cool because I didn’t know who would show up next in the video. My exchange student friend Jeanne in Australia even sang a song by Angele (a Belgian artist who we both like) on the video. My parents shared the videos to my friends and family and then they shared the link to more of my friends / family so the video ended up going for 10 minutes! It was the best birthday present and was so heart warming getting to see everyone and hair their voices. I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who was in the video, but a big special thank you to my mum and Zander for planning it. 

I also had a zoom call with my rotary club in Australia!  They sang me happy birthday and I got to tell them what France was like and how I was going. Without my sponsor club Kincumber Rotary (the best club ever ;)) my exchange wouldn’t of been possible, so another big thank you to them. They even all sung me happy birthday and has all dressed up or decorated their rooms in one way or another!  

I celebrated my birthday at lunch time with my host family. We had pizza leftovers for lunch and then WE ATE CAKE. My host mum made me two amazing cakes. She made me a delicious simple chocolate cake and then a traditional French cake called a Charlotte, which has chocolate mousse inside it and let me say it’s the best thing in the world! I want to say thank you to my whole host family for celebrating my birthday with me but for also making the cakes and making sure I had a great day. After cake I watched Trolls and The Lion King (both in French with no subtitles!)  with my host siblings it was such a fun experience to share with them. It was such a good day and I’ll never forget it!

The Charlot cake

My birthday meant I could do another one of my favorite things and that was online shopping!!  I didn’t bring any summer or spring clothes with me so I ordered a lot online from a French store called “pimkie”. Surprisingly, online shopping wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, because my debit card got blocked for suspicious activity (It was because I forgot to register with the bank that I was going to be in France, whoops) . However, I managed to work it out and my clothes should be here in two weeks! 

My next new experience was Easter!!  In the morning, my host mum hid Easter eggs around in the garden for my little sisters to find, it all went well – until we couldn’t find the last egg bag and we forgot where we hid it!  We had a chicken, mash potato and green beans for lunch, and then there was also this Easter bread thing which was pork and egg wrapped in puff pastry! We are still eating all the chocolate from Easter (but I don’t suspect it will last long). A surprising thing I’ve learnt is more people prefer dark and white chocolate over to milk chocolate here! 

I also baked Jam drops for the first time for my host family. This was an experience because I didn’t have any proper measuring equipment except for my little sister’s Nutella cup glass (it’s basically a normal glass with nutella  drawings km it which had mLs written on the side.) Luckily, the jam drops turned out good and my two older host siblings liked them a lot! 

Jam drops before going into the oven

Being in confinement has made me miss Australia a lot, I have noticed an increase in the vegemite sandwiches I’ve been eating. If my homesickness ever gets too bad, I always go and watch some “Summer Heights High” it’s a comedy based which takes place in a highschool in Sydney it always gives me the good dose of Australian comedy I need.

My next task I will do is lamington cupcakes! Diane loves cakes a lot so she’s very excited to try them. I have a cool bond with my Diane because she doesn’t know much English and my French is still growing. So she loves to sing songs to me in French. At the moment I have two of her french songs stuck in my head. They are like the equivalent of the funny songs we used to sing in primary school.  It’s always fun watching movies with her because many of the movies when translated into French the songs are kept in English. So she can sing songs like hakauna matatta in English and all the songs from the animated ‘Sing’ movie. 

I’m gonna wrap up this blog post here because it’s really long, but if you ever have any questions don’t hesitate to comment and I’ll reply to them 🙂 

Thank you to everyone who’s supported me with my trip and made it all possible. I hope everyone’s staying inside and healthy 🙂 

(P. S there is a bonus blog posted straight after this one and it’s about the differences between Australia and France so go check it out) 

2 Comments

Sophie

Brilliant blog Sweetheart! So interesting to read and catch up on all you have been doing! Look forward reading your next blog xoxo

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Nicky

Hi, I really feel for all the students who are on exchange in lockdown, you all left home with such high expectations for an unforgettable experience, travelling and seeing so much, meeting so many new people and it’s not quite panned out how it should have. It will still be unforgettable but not in the same way. Glad you are still able to make the best of it and have a lovely birthday. I agree Kincumber are a wonderful Rotary club, they hosted me for my year at Erina high in the 90s and they were fantastic. Hope lockdown finishes soon and you get to see a bit more of France (and Europe).
Hang in there xx

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