One of the most quintessential French card games is: La Belote.
It’s a games played with a deck of card in which the 6 through 2’s have been removed. It is a point based game that is played by trick. Whomever is the dealer will deal first three cards starting with the player to his/her left then another two cards such that each player has five cards each. The dealer will then turn over the card on the top of the deck and players will decide to take it or leave it. to take the card means to determine the Atout. Essentially which of the four suits will act as a trump in relation to the other suits for that round. once the Atout has been determined play will then start with the player one the left of the dealer. These are the rough basics of the game. What I find to be most interesting about the game is not only the complexity of higher-level play by also the cultural heritage that is attached to the game as it is something that is passed down from generation to generation. Just something I found to be cool.
One thing that I have noticed during my time in France is that animals. When one thinks of France animals is not necessarily the first thing that jumps to mind. However, that has been one of the biggest differences I have noticed here in Chateau-Gontier. Starting with house pets, the relationship with house pets is a little different here, at least for cats. Cats here are either serve a functional purpose or are boarder line wild, as they spend what seems to be a maximum of time outside. This seems to be because there are lots of farms and pastures and mice can be a problem. Moving onto dogs, when it comes to dogs they fall into two categories, similar to cats, a functional one, guard dogs, and the ‘companion’ when it come to the companion dogs the labrador is the be all end all. However, the role of guard dog is not only limited to dogs, geese, domesticated geese can also accomplish the same role and are arguably better at it. My final observation is the birds, I have really noticed the difference in avian species here, at night it is not uncommon to hear the owls in the distance, and you know those coo-coo clocks? well there is actually a bird that makes that noise. While on the subject of nighttime noises the sounds of the countryside are always sung upon the backdrop of the crickets.
One of the days I was at ISAK, presentations were being held by the student. Each student would get about 3 minutes to present on a topic they were interested in, and how they wanted to go about creating change. I was very impressed with several of the students. They weren’t afraid to get personal about themselves. One girl had been diagnosed with cancer and survived. Her presentation was about the importance of teens helping teens diagnosed with cancer. Because she finds that having someone her age speaking to her while she was on the hospital bed, helped much more than having an adult. Others talked about animal abuse, mental illness, mental disabilities, issues in india, etc. I never felt bored during the presentations and had a very wonderful time listening to them. Everyone had a different story to share.
The little mall was absolutely gorgeous. There were stores of all kinds, including food. My friends had begun a challenge called whole30. Many of the students at ISAK were participating in it. It was a drastic dietary change that did not allow them to eat dairy or sweets, as well as other things. It lasted a month and everyone wanted to see how their energy would change based on their dietary changes. We looked at many stores until we got hungry. We went to an italian restaurant that was painted golden on the inside. Inside they served all sorts of pasta, salad, and seafood. I was also surprised at how almost every store accepts international credit cards such as visa. I thought I would have to rely on my japanese cash and coins throughout the entire trip. It was a very satisfying and a fun filled trip to Karuizawa town.
On one of the last days me and two of my friends went to explore Karuizawa. We walked about 40 minutes to reach the station. Once we reached the station, we took a train to reach the main area of Karuizawa. After that we walked another 20 minutes to reach our destination. Along the way many adorable shops lined the streets. Coffee shops that almost looked like they belonged in Seattle. Small, narrow, and highly decorated. I was amazed at the amount of crepe shops there are in Japan. There seems to be a high fascination with french food and the language. Many of the shops were named after french words. The entire walk, it was pouring down rain. This was the only day it rained, out of all the three weeks. It rained for hours and hours, soaking us completely on our way there. By the time we reached the mall area, ours socks were totally wet.
Already 8 weeks have gone by, and with just 2 remaining, I realize that there are so many memories that I will retain for a long time. I’d like to take his opportunity to share a few. 1. Twingo! That is the name of the small two door car which is the VW Punch Buggy of France. It’s the same concept: when you see a Twingo, you yell “Twingo (insert color here) and punch somebody. I swear, these cars are everywhere. In fact, my own host family has one. 2. Brioche: the delicious soft bread that I have only found here. My host mom likes to joke about the one time we passed a Briocherie on the road and I thought it was cool. 3. The parties. So I have been to a whole lot of birthday parties. There was a surprise one for Brock, an American doing a Rotary Exchange program, then a sleepover for a friend of my host sister, a party for my host sister’s grandpa (who turned 80), a party for Gino’s 16th birthday, a party for a baptism, and four dinner parties. See, here in France, the parties last a very long time. For example, for the grandpa’s party, we arrived at the “salle des fêtes” at 11:30 on Saturday morning and we were there until 2:45 am on Sunday, and that’s not all. On Sunday at 1:30, the guests return to the same salle to have another meal and end the anniversary. Part of the reason for why they are so long is that the meals take a lot of time to eat. For the baptism, we arrived at 7pm, had small snacks and drinks until 8:30, then the meal itself went until 12:30. I’ll remember this for a long time, and whenever I have a dinner at home it will feel so short! 4. The School Bus: in French, the word for ‘bus’ is ‘car’ so I was confused at first when Camille told me we would take the car and it ended up being a giant bus. The buses here are not your average yellow school bus, they’re actually coaches, the type one would take on a guided tour of a city or something of the sort. The car leaves school at 5:30pm, and I’ll always remember the feeling of ‘ahh I miss my car at home’ because sometimes I finish classes at 3:30 or even 2:30 yet I need to wait to take the bus back. However, the 50 minute drive is a very relaxing one, giving me time to listen to music and relax a bit after a long school day. I am always amazed at how the bus seems to fit through the tiny country villages and the small roads. In some towns, it’s almost as big as the buildings themselves. Driving through fields and past grazing cows is just so different from what I normally see on my drive home from school in Seattle, and when I do, I’ll be reminded of taking the ‘car.’
So, there are a few of my memories. Of course, I have so many more that are all noteworthy, but I can’t write them all down. Overall this Passepartout exchange has opened me up to a completely different way of life and I have been privileged to get to live it with my host family, creating lifelong memories and friendships.
Today was an all around great day. Day before a Friday. I had a lot fun today, just during free periods playing cards with people. Im terrible at the game, but the people I was playing with taught me well. Today we had a very important assembly about addiction, where multiple people spoke about their experiences. This was a very deep and emotional conversation and made me think about a lot of my own experiences in regards to the topic. After the assembly we had lunch, I also had a free after lunch so a lot of my time was spent relaxing. My last class of the day was a class called media studies, where we study and make documentaries and learn about media. Its one of my most interesting classes that i’ve enjoyed alot. After school we had practice. While at the practice I was invited to go on a run with the girls long distance track runners. That was a very interesting time and luckily i’m still in pretty good shape so I was up for it. It was nice to talk to some new people while on the run and I actually had a lot of fun. Then after practice we went home and had dinner. After dinner me and one of my homestay sisters Lindsey, went to Target to buy food for the lacrosse team. After Target we went home and then I was feeling super tired so I went to sleep.
Wednesdays are the days when we have night classes, so these days are always really long. We also had assembly, where we got to get a preview of the 9th grade musical. I was also going to be watching the entire play later that night for my class. After the preview we had lunch. After lunch I had science and history, then three frees. The lacrosse team had a game after school so I also went to that. The team lost pretty bad, but it was still a good game to watch though. After the game we went and got pizza before our classes. For the class we watched the entirety of the play, then after the play we got a ride home. I went to sleep basically as soon as we got home since it was pretty late and I was feeling tired.
I start my Tuesdays off with a free thankfully. I was feeling good today thanks to a good amount of sleep the night before. This was another fast day. It really seems like time just flies while i’m out of routine. I think its just the novelty of everything that makes myself unhinged from time itself. Today was a pretty routine day with it being school and then practice. Luckily, once again I had no homework so I was able to have fun all day. After practice we went home and had dinner. After dinner I stayed up for a little bit, but then I started getting bored so I went to bed. That was a good idea because wednesday was going to be a very long day for me.
Today was a normal day of classes, where nothing out of the ordinary happened. Mondays are the days where I have no frees. I was hoping for the school day to go by fast as possible because there was a lacrosse game at the end of the day. I was excited for the lacrosse game because they were playing a team they would easily be able to beat. Since I had been here they had been on a losing streak, so it would be nice to see them win. Once the school day was over it was time for the game. The team ended up winning the game 17-3. After the game we went home for dinner. After dinner I realized I had no homework so I went to bed early for some extra energy for Tuesday.