Grace’s Final Blog

Hey everyone!

It has only been a few weeks since my last blog post but somehow this will be another long one including descriptions about things I am excited about and realizations/new ideas I have formulated throughout my time here.

In the past few weeks, I have eaten a giant Babybell cheese, made pottery (specifically a vase) and seen a robot elephant walk around on the waterfront… One of my favorite things I have done recently is taking a day trip to Nantes, which is a 2-hour drive away from Chateau Gontier, with Camille. When we got there we went to a castle, and then a museum within the castle. It was super cool because there were many small rooms and hallways that were filled with artifacts (like swords and crowns) from the people who used to live there, and it was fun to explore all of the different parts of the museum. After, we took a walk to “L’ile des machines” which is an island where people create robot animals (such as elephants, cranes, and spiders) for people to ride. When we went, there was an elephant walking around with about 20 people on its back, spraying water (with its trunk) at onlookers.

A photo of part of the castle that we visited in Nantes

I also was able to visit Terra Botanica, which is like a zoo for plants. There were gardens, a butterfly house, and an “Extreme Climates” building, which included tropical, snowy, desert and rainy rooms that had different plants depending on the places that they were from. In the “snow” room, there was an ice wall, where hundreds of people had created handprints. It was extremely cold but when I held my hand on the ice for about 1 minute there ended up being a small indent next to so many others, which I thought was super cool.

An orange tree next to the “Extreme Climates” building in Terra Botanica

All in all, it has been a really fun couple of weeks and I cannot wait for more fun things to come in the next week!

My adventures here have been amazing but I think the main things that I will take out of this trip are the realizations and new knowledge that I have found. I have learned a lot, the differences between France and the US (may it be school, home life, the food, etc.), and how hard it is to learn new things in French… I have also learned about living in a small town and so much more about the different expectations and daily routines that people have in France and how they relate to those in America. It is really crazy to think that for my whole life I have only thought, known and been comfortable with my own surroundings when there are so many more places to explore in the world.

Also, because this will be last blog post, I want to say a huge thank you to a few people. The first being Camille, for having so many fun times together over the course of these past 6 months and always remaining super positive and energetic the entire time. And to Camille’s family for welcoming me into their home and making me feel comfortable and included. And of course a big thanks to my family for letting me have this experience and to Esther and Kristin for helping with everything throughout this Passepartout program. I am so very thankful to everyone who helped create and support this adventure and am so happy that I got to have this amazing experience.

Dylan Cundiff’s Final Blog

Hello everyone!

It’s been ten weeks since I left Seattle. My journey has been amazing, eye-opening, utterly fantastic, and probably the hardest thing I have ever done. With distance, I have gained clarity. I have learned new things about myself and those closest to me. I’d like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of the people that made this happen. Thank you to Esther, Kristin, and everyone else who put PPT together. Thank you to my parents for being so supportive through this journey, (special thanks to mom for being so awesome and hard working through dad’s job change and party planning, and congrats to dad for trying something new. I’m so proud of you). Thank you to my rock, my best friend, Eden, for keeping in touch and sending me tons of American food, love you. Thank you to Billie Eilish for releasing When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go. Thank you to my doggie for being so cute (I know it’s not relevant but I had to put this in, miss you Kala <3). Thank you to all of the students who made me feel like a part of the school community. Thank you to Gabrielle and her family for letting me have a place at their dinner table, and last but not least, thank you Dylan Wahbe for the idea of how to write this blog.

My perspective on how I live my Seattle life is forever changed. I realize now how selfish and bratty I was, and how much I took what I had for granted. Honestly, I’m embarrassed about how I’ve acted for the past years and I cannot express how happy I am to have gained this knowledge, and that I’ve recognized my mistakes. So, one last final thank you to my parents, again, for providing me with love, a private school education, a happy household, overall just a splendid life with more than I could ever need, and being the best parents ever.

Grace’s Second Blog

Hey everyone! It’s my second blog post and I have no idea where to start with all of the things that have happened since my last one… but since we just got back from a nice relaxing break I will start there.

The first week of break Camille’s family and I went to Paris and it was so amazing. Some of my favorite things were going to an old cemetery, seeing all of the art in the museums there and visiting all of the pretty churches.

The Pere Lachaise cemetery was the first place we stopped at when we got off of the train. The gravestones were super old and had many detailed designs all over them. There was one that was huge and shaped like a giant silver fish with puffed up cheeks. They were all scattered with things like flowers and jewelry but some had buttons and seashells on them as well.

On the first night there I met some of Camille’s family friends and they gave us a tour of some of the popular places around Paris such as The Louvre, The Eiffel Tower, The Basilique du Sacre- Cœur and Notre Dame.

The second day we went to Notre Dame and Saint-Chapelle. The stained glass windows in both of these churches are insanely beautiful. In Saint-Chapelle there are thousands of tiny images that make up entire walls of the church. The images are detailed and the colors that make them up to make you feel as if you are in a rainbow.

On the third day, we went to the Louvre, one of my favorite art museums in the world, and I got to see one of my favorite pieces of artwork in the world, The Winged Victory of Samothrace. The room where the Mona Lisa is was overly crowded but I managed to get to the front and take a somewhat clear picture which I was proud of. After we finished looking at the art in the Louvre, we then visited the Royal Jardin (where there were striped sculptures everywhere) and had a picnic in the park.

The fourth day was when got to see the National Assembly. Inside, my favorite room was the library because it is decorated with detailed wood shelving and old books (unfortunately, we were not allowed to take pictures in that specific room but I have found one online!). After the tour ended we went to L’orangerie and I got to see my other favorite artwork in the whole world; Monets Water Lillies!

Image result for library of france national assembly
this image is from google images it is of the national assembly library!

I got to see L’Arc de Triumph on the fifth day as well as the house of Victor Hugo and the modern art museum. Victor Hugo’s house was full of photographs and artifacts. The carpets, walls, and ceilings had detailed patterns in colors like gold and deep green or red that made the house look like the interior of a castle.

On the last day, we went to more gardens and another museum and ended the trip eating dinner at an Indian Restuarant near the train station.

The weather has been super nice these last couple weeks so when we came back from Paris, Camille, he best friend and I went on many bike rides during the remaining week of break and I got a chance to see a nature reserve that is a couple towns over from Chateau-Gontier. There were cats and dogs roaming around everywhere and an island in the middle of the lake with about 200 baboons on it which was crazy!

All in all, it was an amazing break. Since it has ended, I have gotten back into the routine of going to school and this weekend I am going to Nantes which I am super excited about.


Dylan Cundiff’s Second Blog

Hello everybody! I apologize for being a day late (yesterday was my birthday and I was too excited to be 15 to write a blog).

Me with my bday cake:) P.s. Sorry all of my pics are sideways, I don’t know how to flip them

Vacation is officially over and it’s back to school (sadly). The transition back was very smooth and it was nice to see all of my friends, French and American. Recently there have been lots of quizzes and test throughout my classes which have definitely been difficult for me. I usually just answer the questions I can but the science classes are insanely difficult because I’m bad at science anyway.

Other than the amount of tests school is going quite smoothly. Although my schedule is confusing and I accidentally skipped a class on accident (oops). A typical school day consists of about 4-6 hours of classes, walks around Chateau Gontier, and of course lots and lots of pastries.

Here is a view of “La Mayenne” with Chateau Gontier in the background

I have loved getting to know all of the students in my class and seeing how they live their everyday lives and how it differs from my life in America. There are tons of similarities but also a lot of differences, one thing that I have been noticing a lot lately is the style. The style here is a bit more colorful, also everyone wears scarves. I don’t think I’ve worn a scarf to school in years. Another thing I’ve noticed is that everyone wears bets with their jeans. I think at Bush people still wear them but definitely less. 2)

Wednesday the 24th was also my birthday! I received tons of letters from my family and a box from one of my friends containing the American foods I miss the most, most importantly Takis. I also got a few gifts from my families such as a surprise strawberry cake, some french snacks, a few French lotions and skincare items, and a gift card to a sports store (they know me too well). I am so grateful for everything I was given and to everyone who wished me a happy birthday.  I thought the day was going to be a lot harder considering its the first time I’ve spent my birthday without my family, but I was truly happy with how the day went.

 

Caroline’ 2nd Blog

Hello again, its Caroline.
Since my last blog, a lot has happened. I’m mostly going to talk about the recent trip to Paris and Brittany.
Lycée Victor Hugo has been on vacation, going back to school next week, which gave me opportunities to travel to cities nearby.
For a few days, I stayed with Maud’s relative and Maud. We visited different monuments in Brittany like “Fort la Latte” and “Le Cap Fréhel.” My favorite place we visited was “Mont Saint Michel.”

It was huge and so cool. We got to see bows and canons.
A few days later, with my whole host family, we went to Paris, a 3-hour drive. We primarily went because the mother, Carole Calvé, runs marathons and the ParisMarathon2019 was being hosted.
The marathon was huge. First, we went to check in and I took these pictures. There were so many sporty stores and cool things to try. Like the 4D virtual reality on a roller coaster.

This was the route the runners took.

We visited during the time in Paris places like the Arch of Triumph and Notre-Dame Cathedral. It is crazy how much more significant places Paris has compared to Seattle. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see everything but we took an hour boat ride on the Seine river and saw many monuments and got a lot of history. I learned that the Eiffel Tower is painted brown every 7 years.
We actually saw the Cathedral one day before it started to burn. When we arrived back in Chateau-Gontier, we saw the tragedy on the news.

Thank you for reading this and I hope you take something away from this.

Grace’s First Blog

Well, my first blog accidentally was saved as a draft and did not post (oops!). Fortunately, I found it again so here it is!

The first couple of weeks in France have taught me so much about French culture, language and the everyday lives of those living in Chateau-Gontier. I am loving the scenery here as well as the people and experiences that I am having. The very first night, Camille’s parents welcomed me with a lovely dinner and the first full day Camille’s best friend came over and we went for a walk along the river. Right off the bat, the amount of inclusion and warmth I felt from everyone around me was so amazing, and it just goes to show the welcoming environment that I am lucky enough to be in.

Some of my favorite experiences so far have been biking along the river, visiting the farm (where Dylan is staying), exploring a few towns close to Chateau-Gontier and finding new shops and landmarks around the town. Two days ago, I found out that there is a Thursday street market in the upper section of town which was also an interesting part of my trip so far. The market has many different types of booths including one in which you can hold a rabbit and another that sells jewelry made from not just metals and gemstones but also donkey hair (very strange but also very cool!).

There are a few things that are different from Seattle that I have noticed. Dinner here is very different from the dinners I usually eat. We eat it later (at around 8:30 or 9:00) and it usually consists of either pasta or different types of salad and soup. After dinner, Camille’s Mom usually brings out a cheese plate and then after yogurts and chocolate pudding. Another thing that is really different is the school. School goes to 5:30pm all days except Wednesday in which we have a half day. There is also very little homework (about 20 minutes a week) which is super cool because it means that I am able to explore, eat pastries and hang out with Camille and her friends after school most days.

Getting to know the town and people more while beginning to improve my French skills has been amazing and I am loving everything this opportunity is bringing me so far. The beautiful buildings and river are insanely pretty and I am just so excited to see what else this experience brings me!

Dylan Cundiff’s First Blog

Four weeks in and going strong! Caroline, grace, and I are now on a two-week long spring break. On the first day of break, (Saturday the sixth) my family and I drove to the coast to see Mont Saint Michel. What a sight! We walked around a bit, ate lunch, and then headed to a family friend’s house.

Besides that excursion, it has been pretty chill. I’ve been doing my math homework, walking around the farm, and hanging out with some of Gabrielle’s friends. In general, the break has been very relaxing and nice to get a break from the new school environment.

So far everything has been very enjoyable. My French is definitely progressing which I am very glad about. It has taken a bit to get used to the meal times (about nine every night), and the school hours (8:00-5:30), but other than everything has been fairly easy to adjust to. I thought my French skills were going to be more of a problem but its a lot easier to communicate with the locals than I expected. As for my French, it’s definitely progressing although I would like to learn a bit more before I leave. My Spanish, however, is definitely getting worse. I find myself forgetting simple words and replacing them with French ones.

Farm Life

So far living on the farm has been very peaceful. I love being able to be around animals every day. The family owns two cats and a dog, as well as lots of pigs, cows, ducks, bunnies, chickens, a billy goat, and probably more that I’m forgetting. The landscape is also another upside, everywhere you look is another beautiful sight.

Just a normal countryside road

Me outside of Camille’s house

 

 

Caroline’s First Blog

Dylan, Grace, and I were welcomed to France by Maud, Camille, and Gabrielle at the airport, after the brutal almost ten-hour flight. The correspondents and their parents put our luggage in the car and gave us a tour of France from the car. We got to see the Eiffel tower right off the bat.


In our tour we saw shattered glass and burned down buildings in Paris from the “gilet-jaunes.” If you do not know, the “gilet-jaunes” or “yellow vests” movement, starting in November 2018, formed in protest over rising fuel taxes, high cost of living, and believes that a unfair portion of the government’s tax reforms were falling on the working and middle class.
In an exclusive interview, I asked Maud, my correspondent about these “gilet-jaunes”, she says, “I am for yellow vests because the people manifest for less expensive gasoline. However, after the yellow vests break the markets, I don’t like it. In Paris, they burned cars.”


It was really cool to see in person. Especially since, in French class we learned about them and the riots in Paris, but it’s so different to see them in person.
Yesterday, I was taken to Laval, a city 30 minutes by bus from Chateau-Gontier, with two of Maud’s friends, Chloe and Annaelle. We went to a Laval Virtual and tried some of the virtual reality games. It was really fun.

I was so surprised with how different their meals are. For breakfast, they don’t have eggs or bacon but everything chocolate. In my host family it’s usually warm milk with chocolate powder and chocolate cereal. Of course, also baguettes. They are eaten with butter, rillettes, a preparation of meat usually made of pork that is commonly spread on bread, or nothing. I really enjoy rillettes, it’s really good.
It’s just crazy how many baguettes they eat. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Lunch and dinner, pasta, potatos, baguettes, cheese are the main components.
A few days ago, I ate dinner at Maud’s grandparents’ home and we had Raclette, a cheese and a French dish. We used a table-top grill to melt the cheese in the small pans called coupelles. Then, with the melted cheese we ate cooked potatoes and meats like salami.

Dylan’s Final Blog

For my final blog I want to take a brief moment to say thank you. I want to thank all the lovely people that helped me have this special experience. Thank you to all the Bush teachers who helped initiate and create this program and to Bush itself. I also want to say a huge thank you to my host family, the Juillets, for letting me stay in their house and eat their food. I know, of course, that they will not read this but I feel it is still important to say. I also want to thank France as a country and the French as a people. If they did not live in France or build France there really wouldn’t be much point in doing this. I must thank President Macron and his ex-teacher and his current wife Brigitte for being very french. To speed things up i’m going to use a colon. I want to thank: the food and drinks department of french airlines, the cable service company, and Ikea. I also want to make note of Netflix for its great programming and say F*%K you to Hulu for not being available in France. I must mention Spotify for giving me music and apple for making such a secret listening device (airpods). I want to thank NASA and the CIA, Noam Chomsky and Pablo Picasso. Let’s not forget Saturn and of course, all of it’s rings. We must pay tribute to Etta James and The temptations. And last but not least, God.

Emma’s (actual) Final Blog Post

I thought I would be able to get away with two blog posts but alas, here we are. Because I already wrapped things up in my last post, I thought I would leave you all with some interesting facts about France:

  1. France and England briefly considered becoming one nation when faced with German invasion in 1940. Naturally, this idea did not last very long.
  2. France has the highest number of roundabouts in the world. Their 30,000 accounts for over half of the roundabouts in the world.
  3. England and France were on the same time zone before World War II. After the German occupation in 1940, France was forced to align with German time. This has yet to be revisited.
  4. With the president’s permission, it is possible to marry a dead person in France.
  5. President Charles de Gaulle made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for surviving 32 assassination attempts, more than anyone in the world.
  6. With one in five people suffering from depression, France is the most depressed country in the world.

With that I bid you all adieu.

Best,

Emma