Thursday, July 26, 2012

Last week in Paris

This is my last week living in Paris. I've started packing up all of my stuff and I still have a lot more to go. My feelings about going home are neutral. I don't know what to think. I have become somewhat attached to Paris and I'm not sure if I'm ready to go home so soon. But at the same time I miss all of my friends and family back at home and I'm looking forward to seeing them again. This year has been a challenging but good year for me. I've grown a lot and had many experiences that will change my life for years to come. I am proud to say that I have gone a long way with my French. I can understand practically everything now and I am able to converse with people. I feel that I have reached a mile stone in my life, and not only that but I've gained so much along the way. It will be sad to say goodbye to this beautiful city. I will miss all of it's cute little shops, bakeries, parks and museums.

Trip to the French Alps

    Last week I went with my family on vacation to the gorgeous French alps.

June 6, 2012

 Life has been super busy for me these past few weeks because of all the studying for the dreaded SAT test. I just finished taking it last Saturday and it was especially difficult because I had only slept three hours the previous night. Now I am glad that it is out of the way and all I can think about now is summer vacation.
The sluggish feeling of summer is starting to kick in and things are winding down as I'm finishing the last two weeks of school. It's crazy how fast the year went by, but at the same time it feels like ages since I last saw my friends back at home. I miss them a lot and I'm really looking forward to seeing them again in August.
My parents were just in New Zealand for two weeks and now they are leaving Australia after staying there for a day. So it's just been Luke and I here with the apartment all to ourselves for two weeks.
We have been exploring more of Paris during this time, frequently visiting the Louvre museum. Even though I have been here for almost a year I still have moments like today when I feel so fortunate to be able to live in Paris. The culture here is so different and foreign and it feels like I could live here all my life and still not fit in.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A new French President

 Yesterday Luke randomly decided to take a walk with me because we hadn't been outside all day. We walked on a public walkway above the city and found it strange that there were almost no people there. Then we heard the honking of cars and noticed people waving flags out their windows and shouting with joy. There was a craziness of honking, shouting and parading in the streets and we walked towards the Bastille. In the Bastille there were thousands of people gathered in a gigantic crowd and the streets leading up to the Bastille were all closed down. We assumed that the presidential candidate, Sarkozy won the election but in fact it was a man named Francois Hollande. The crowd was dense as we pushed and shoved our way towards the front and we saw a huge screen which was showing the news live as well as the newly elected president in the back seat of a shiny black car with heavy security surrounding him, driving towards the Bastille.

  The crowd went wild (even more so than before) when he showed up to give his speech. The speech went well. It was very patriotic and he spoke of a huge change in France. He is the first elected Socialist president here in Paris after 20 years, so many people are very happy about the change. It was interesting to be a part of the victory announcement and it was also the first time that I went to one. There were a lot of people climbing the place de la Bastille monument and waving flags in celebration. In the crowd a middle aged French woman came up to me and asked if I was from London. I said that I was American and she gave me a huge kiss on the cheek and said excitedly "Ah, se bon!" and I told her that I'm an exchange student living here. As we were maneuvering through the crowd almost everyone was smoking. After a short time I became light headed and dizzy because of the body heat in the crowd combined with all the smoke.
  After the president gave his speech there were live bands playing back to back. Around midnight Luke and I headed back home. It was a very eventful, memorable day for us both to be able to see the victory announcement of the newly elected president.

Photos taken by my brother, Luke Ekblad

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Trip to Italy

 Last night I got back from a ten day trip to Italy with my family. We had a great time exploring cities, small towns and the countryside. It wouldn't have been possible for us to even go on the trip if it weren't for a nice Icelandic couple who knew my parents and invited us to stay in their fancy vacation house for free. The house was a mansion with several fully furnished rooms, long couches and a nice Kawai piano that had a recording system built into it.
  We arrived to Italy the first day after taking an hour bus ride, waiting in the airport for two hours and sitting on the plane for an hour and a half. Once in Italy we picked up our rental car and tried to maneuver out of a tight parking spot surrounded with cars parked too close to each other. It took us about twenty minutes of backing up and inching forward by centimeters until finally we exited the lot and hit the road. We got lost a lot that night mostly due to the fact that my dad got confused and went the opposite direction than the car rental lady told him to go.
  Surprisingly, Italy fit the exact stereotypes that Hollywood depicts. For example Italians eat a lot of pizza and pasta and that they are very dramatic when they speak, using lots of hand gestures and voice intonations. Overall every Italian person we ran into was very helpful and friendly. My dad doesn't know any Italian but could still get his point across speaking in Spanish because it's so similar.
  One thing that really shocked me was the prostitution in Italy. As we were driving to our house the first night, there were young girls dressed up all along the road and stationed at almost every gas station. I wasn't aware that prostitution was common in Italy and it really impacted me to see all those young girls selling themselves.
  The rest of the week we spend there was really fun. The weather was very strange and unpredictable because one moment it would be sunny with clear blue skies and the next it would rain hard with thunder and lightening. We drove all over the countryside which was lush and green with many wine orchards and forests and visited small villas and cities, peeking into shops and walking through cobble stone streets and alleyways. On most of the nights we ate at pizzerias or made pasta at home. The pizza there was delicious and much better than any I've tried elsewhere.
  We went to museums and walked through them for hours observing all the beautiful paintings and stone statues. We were fortunate to see the incredibly detailed Statue Of David as well as other marble statues by Michelangelo.
  I realize that this has gotten quite long and I wish that I could add all the other interesting details to the trip but that would take a long time to write. I am so grateful that I was able to visit Italy with my family this year. It was a rich experience for us all and filled with many memorable moments.