Excusez-moi, vous parlez français ?

10 days have passed since my family and I arrived at the busy airport in Nantes, France. On the airplane, I couldn’t help but think about the life I had on Tenerife. My friends, who dream about leaving the island, feel so far. The home that I lived in for nine months feels so distant. But life has moved on, we are moving on. When my sisters and I walked off the plane we spoke Spanish and laughed to each other about how no one would understand us, but I think we all were a bit saddened that Spanish wouldn’t be apart of our daily lives anymore.

Despite the frustrating language barrier, it’s no doubt that France is beautiful. My family is currently living with some friends in Brittany, and the landscape is gorgeous. It is foresty and the houses are traditional, with cobblestone walls. There is a train system, something that I’ve missed for a long time. There are white sand and rose-colored sand beaches that touch the chilly, but clear water.

I am also lucky enough to have delicious homemade french meals, made by our friend Titouan’s lovely mom. Titouan’s family has been more than generous in showing us around Brittany and helping us with our French. Not to mention exciting me with this years Women’s World Cup, as football is a very important part of their culture. As well as introducing me to French music like Orelsan’s – La fête est finie and Vegedream’s – Ramenez la coupe a la maison.

And finally, being in France reminds me of how much I missed mainland Europe.

Here is a quote that I like in French:

Les chefs-d’oeuvre ne sont jamais que des tentatives heureuses. -George Sand

“Masterpieces are never anything else but happy attempts.”

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my learning is lacking

Once again, I find myself sitting at a large wooden table in the public library. All of my school supplies is out, my tasks are neatly organized and I should be getting to work, but I can’t help but feel the lack of motivation, or maybe the lack of purpose.

Two weeks ago I was sitting at a similar table in my fourth period chemistry class waiting anxiously for my teacher to hand me my back my test that I took the previous week. My palms were sweating and I was chatting nervously to my friend next to me, but the minute I glanced at the test that had my name on it I froze. The simple 1/10 grading system never fails to make me feel like I am back to my second grade class, spelling out ten words and hoping you got at least five or six correct.

My paper had a large 3.14 at the top of it. Once again I am below the passing grade. Once again, I failed.

 

Failing this year has been very common, mostly in the more difficult classes like chemistry, and biology and math, but I never felt like I didn’t study try to understand the concepts we’ve been learning. In fact, most of my time after school was and is still, studying. Prior to that chemistry test, my school was on winter break and I spent a great deal of time preparing for the exam. Granted I didn’t know what was going to be on it, I still did my best to go through pages of 4 ESO curriculum and try to remember the most important concepts. I spent hours writing down elements of the periodic table and their interesting facts, I was interested and I enjoyed learning and reflecting on the old and new material.

I made flash cards, I created rhymes. I repeated and practiced different examples of combining different elements and drawing out diagrams. By the end of the break, I was very confident I would at least pass.

The day that the one paged exam was put in front of me I was very frustrated. There were so many things that I didn’t know I had to study, and I even was confirmed later that most of my friends didn’t know they had to study them either. My heart sank because I knew that all my persistence and motivation wouldn’t even give me a drop of credit.


I always have felt an uncomfortable with the testing system, not only in spain but in the US too. Although, I never got less than a B in the US and that was even when I didn’t quite remember everything. Testing means memorizing. Memorizing should be very students priority, it should be their second way of thinking, but it’s not even close to mine. I can’t really memorize things that well, and maybe that’s not a bad thing, but it really hasn’t helped me in testing situations where teachers expect you to spit out textbook phrases like they were the first words that you ever learned.

 

Even still, I am trying to get used to it.

 

[Sept. – Dec.] 2018

As the new year is just coming around, I figure it’s a good time to put all my procrastination aside, and actually write a little about these past few months. My life has been full of changes so it would make sense that I would be used to this one by now, but I’m not sure if I am. I guess I should start at the beginning.

August and September were probably the most interesting and the most agitating months for my family. The visa process was stressful, I cannot even begin to describe the amount of time and effort my parents put into living in Spain (the visa will last a year).

There was a point where I couldn’t even imagine it all working out because unfortunately, there was a really good chance we could be declined our visas. It happens to people all the time.

My father received an email around late August that we had been confirmed, and our visas were ready for pick up. I remember that moment very clearly; the excitement, the eagerness, mostly the relief.

The next couple of weeks were so long.  Our flight was on September 10th, and the date got closer, we stocked up on the necessities, peanut butter and lots of trader joes dried mango. We packed our backpacks (still only carry-on) and left the most precious things in the RV.

When we boarded the plane, it was hard to believe six months was spent in the US.

It’s still hard to believe.


 

 

Settling in Spain has been crazy. It has its ups and downs, but most things do. I didn’t realize how many simple pleasures there are in saying good morning to the local coffee shop owners or putting pictures and art on my walls. I am feeling a lot of mental weight being put off my shoulders in not having to pack up and move in a couple weeks. I suppose that will happen eventually but for now, I’m not going to think about it.

School has been anything but easy, but I’m dealing. Living and communicating has been more difficult with the language barrier but luckily I’ve met some lovely humans who’ve accepted me into their groups with ease, and my Spanish is getting better day by day. The best advice I’ve been given has been “be patient its not a marathon”. My school’s English teacher told me that, and I think it has helped me the most.

My oldest sister left to live in Barcelona a couple weeks ago. Not having her here anymore has been hard, but overall, I’m doing pretty okay.

kathryn xx