Monday, April 4, 2011

Last Leg of the Journey!

Well, I figured it is time for one last blog update…

Wow!  Câline, punaise, whathaveyou, the time passes fast!  I don’t even know what to say or write, but I feel like I need to get something out—something so that I stop being sad about leaving and instead realize how crazy blessed I have been!  One of my favourite expressions is, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened”… so here is one big smile for whoever reads this! 

First off, I want to say thank you to everyone I have met over here!!  It would not have been the amazing experience it has been without the amazing people I met along the way.  I know none of you may even read this, but I have to thank you, because you have all touched me in some way through your kindness and openness and smiles and generosity… it doesn’t matter whether you leant me a marker and that was it, or you said hello to me once and it was on a grumpy day for you ;) —know that I feel so lucky to have met everyone I have met here… because you have taught me how to enjoy life right now, right as it is, right in this moment!  You have taught me to how to be more giving and patient and you have taught me how to accept that I can’t plan everything in life!  And most importantly of all, you have taught me that it is the friendships you make in life that make it all worthwhile, not if you get in every last item on your carefully planned travelling ‘to see and do’ list. ;)  Thank you beyond all thank yous!  I love you all so incredibly much and you will all forever hold a special place in my heart.  Know that you are all soo soo welcome to come visit in Canada anytime!  Except in the winter.  Seriously— it’s for your own good. ;)

I feel I must also thank my students, for they continuously give me joy, and often when I feel most frustrated… at first, I wasn't sure how it would go, teaching such young students (which was a first for me)... but they have shown me such enthusiasm and energy that I will sorely miss.  You never know what the day will bring... whether they surprise me with a hand-picked bouquet of flowers from the forest, or an acorn, or a piece of paper 2cmx2cm with my name and a heart on it, it’s special and unique and I will keep their offerings always!  It seems that just when things cannot get more chaotic, one little kid will say ‘Tiens, Megan, c’est pour toi’ and offer me his/her gift…  each gift is humbling and special and reminds me to take a step back, breathe, and know that although they may not remember to say, ‘Dining room’ properly, they will always remember how you made them feel.  So I can only hope to give them back what they have given me through their smiles and chorus of ‘hello’ and gifts.  I will never forget being ‘attacked’ by what I call ‘the mob of bisous!’ one day!  Hah I thought I was going to fall over as I was carrying my bags, trying to bend down as they reached up for les bisous!  ;)  Every day, no matter how crazy, is never boring, and every day, at least one student will make me smile, and for that, I am thankful!    

And now for a brief (relatively speaking) ;) recap of the past few months…

January was fairly quiet after the escapades of Christmas (chez Kara, to Bristol, Bath, and Glasgow/Edinburgh), but it was nice relaxing in Evreux with my wonderful ladies!  Whether it was a shindig in la Résidence Godehilde, a night out on the town, or a movie night in, it has always been a good time with you ladies ;).  And of course, you have to love the random trips to Paris when you are feeling antsy… finding hidden gems (aka awful unidentifiable animal hoofs) in flea markets and jumping in front of the Louvre for what may be deemed an excessive amount of time ;) are memories I will cherish! 

February brought new friends as we spent a night salsa-ing away in Rouen, which has come to feel like my home away from home in France.  It also brought new adventures as we headed off for our two weeks of holidays!! (Take that, Canadian schools!) ;)  First, Alix and I checked out the carnival in Nice, which had an awesome atmosphere… we definitely encountered one of the best hostels ever there!!  It was a beautiful city with a view of the harbour I have been dreaming of seeing for years :).  That stay led us to meet a lovely fellow Canadian from Montreal who gave us the idea of going to Monaco since it was literally a hop, skip, and a jump away! (or 1.70 euros and 20 min).  Despite rain, we could definitely appreciate the glamour and
glitz—especially when we sat down in a café where the cheapest thing was a tea for about 17 euros! (approx. 28$!!)  Needless to say, we didn’t stay for tea. ;)

It was then off to Amsterdam where we sat in giant clogs, tried the best fries in the Netherlands, visited the Red Light District at night and visited Anne Frank’s house.  It was beautiful to see the city from the canals and to observe the sheer number of bikes!  (that all share that same old-school design that makes them so cute!)  It was also moving to see where the Frank family hid for years during the war, especially since I was (and am still) reading Anne Frank’s journal at the time.

Next came London, which I adore!  Despite what others have said, I found the tube really easy to use, and so convenient!  After quite the climb up St. Paul’s cathedral, I found the most breathtaking view and decided I didn’t need to go on the London Eye after all!  It was wonderful getting to see all these historic buildings, like Westminster Abbey, where Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin are buried.  It was equally wonderful getting to go to a musical, to see Suburban Legends and Reel Big Fish—thanks Alix!—and seeing the more modern side of London in the markets.  And of course, I loved getting to visit with my friend Meaghan from Canada, who took me to see Camden Markets (wow!) and then took us out to a great pub for a traditional delicious Sunday roast, complete with Yorkshire pudding and creamy leeks—mm! 

And last, but not least, came Ireland!  I have dreeeeamed of going there for ages and it did not let me down!  I have to thank my lovely friend Katie, who not only let me stay at her place, but took me around the town and out on the town at night!  I absolutely loved seeing the rolling hills, sheep, rugged coastline, and meeting all the friendly people!  (Alas, no leprechauns were to be found) ;).  I also loved the surprise of meeting two other girls on a tour up north, who were also up for exploring as much as possible.  It was absolutely wonderful touring with such lovely people!  It is definitely a place to visit again! 

I was also lucky enough to have a visit from my Belgian cousin, Stefaan!  Even though just as we arrived, we found out the zoo in Paris is closed for another um, 3 years, we had a great time checking out the aquarium and trying the amazing macarons on the Champs Elysées!  (totally worth the wait in line!)  I feel so lucky to have been able to meet and get to know some of my family in Europe that I otherwise wouldn’t have known.

Other plans that remain:

Skating: after two trips to Rouen (an hour away) with no success so far, I am determined to set foot on a rink before leaving!  Closed, both days ;).  Who would have thought?  Somehow, it has become my mission to go skating in France. 

The south of France—once again, we have two weeks of holidays coming up (I don’t really question this!) :P and so it will be off to Marseille/Aix-en-Provence/Avignon, and then to Lyon for a day to go bungee jumping nearby!  Am I crazy?  Yes.  Will someone have to push me off the bridge?  Yes. ;) 

Then it will be off to Krakow to tour the city and see Auschwitz, and off to Berlin to visit that unique city! 

And lastly, but not least, it will be a trip to Bretagne (Brittany) to visit the coast with a friend and to see Mont Saint Michel!  (Google it!) 

After that… home!  It will be wonderful to see everyone again, although I don’t really want to think about leaving my family in France.  I can’t say where life will lead… but I am sure it will lead me back to France eventually!  Somehow, some way! ;)  I don’t know for how long or when, but I’ll be back! ;)  I don’t know either that I can fully explain the hold this beautiful country has over me, and even if I did, I people would still probably think it crazy for me to want to come back… So call it crazy or call it what you will, but I just can’t help loving it, and I know I always will.  Even on those days where people squint at you as you speak in your non-French accent, as if it is taking all their energy to imagine what in heaven’s name you’re trying to say, I still end up walking down the street thinking, ‘I’m living in France!  I’m living in France!’ and smiling to myself.  :)  So no, I don’t think I will attempt to explain why I love it so much, but since when has love needed to be explained? ;) 

And thus ends my blog for now!  Glad to have come?  You bet.  Sad to leave?  Of course.  But it just means I had one heck of a time, and I’m ready for what life will bring next!

gros bisous!

- megan