Follow me on my adventure to France!
3 fun facts about me:
1. I am red/green colorblind.
2. I am vegan 80% of the time (not vegan when it would be inconvenient for others or I am hungry and there aren't any vegan options) .
3. I love rainy weather even though I live in Arizona.
June 3, 2017
Hi. I am Avary Marin and I am going to Grenoble, France tomorrow! I have been packing my suitcase for the past 3 days and I have realized that in most ways I feel prepared and ready for this trip. However, nerves come with international travel. I am anxious about my luggage getting lost, having my important travel equipment stolen in the Paris airport, and meeting my French counterpart. But most of all I am extremely excited. I have to be up tomorrow at 3 am to start my 24+ hours of travel and I don't see how I am going to manage sleeping. At the moment, I mostly look forward to attending school with my counterpart. I will go with her to her last two days of school which I feel is the perfect amount of time to experience their education system and meet her classmates. I am curious to see how different it is from the high school that I attend.
June 7, 2017
I landed in Lyon after a tiring day and a half worth of travel and met my counterpart, Mona in the airport. She is such a beautiful person inside and out and I could tell from the first time we met. The airport is about an hour away from Grenoble and the drive was absolutely stunning. I rode in the same car as Ashlyn another member of the YAEP program and her counter part and we were both so amazed. Mona's apartment is small but I have grown to appreciate that and the view is incredible. Everyone in the house hold is so generous and I am very thankful that they try to speak as much English as possible. However I do enjoy listening to them talk back and forth in French. Dinner the first night was incredible and I have been eating the leftovers ever since. My first thoughts on the food is that they use a lot of carbs such as potatoes, pasta, and bread and that everything has cream and butter so I am basically in heaven. their meals are structured the same way as at home where they have a meat or protein , a vegetable and an additional side. I have been warned about the presence of alcohol but Mona's family doesn't seem to drink much yet so I haven't even seen a glass. Since Mona can't drive and her stepdad works full time we have been using the tram to get around the city. The stops are frequent and there is always one less than a three minute walk away. I really enjoy this mode of transportation because it is quick and convenient. I have been to the center of Grenoble for the past 2 or three days now and I have fallen in love. It is sooo gorgeous and it looks just like all of the photos. There are so many places to shop and the architecture is incredible. Every time we go to the center we stop at this one crepe shop that always has fresh crepes, gelato, and fruit. There is this adorable, tiny area upstairs to eat and I love it there. Mona attends private school and I am incredibly jealous. first of all the building is very small but very modern on the inside. there are only a few stories (one for each grade) and each one has about 5 classrooms. For most of the day, her class of 30 students stays in one room and different teachers come and go. Their system allows for much more freedom and I would consider it half way between college and high school in the U.S.. Their lunch break is long and even though their cafe in the lunch room sells delicious food they are allowed to go off campus to eat (the first day we met her friends in the park and ate French Dominos pizza). Throughout the day, they have hour-long breaks and can go to this set of three classroom where you can do what ever you want. Her school is wonderful and very different from Desert vista with a student body of 3,000 students.
Trying something new!
June 11, 2017
So far I am absolutely loving it here in France! I am having an amazing time living with my counterpart and learning more about her culture. The main difference between french culture and american culture is the way people greet each other. In the U.S. we might shake hands, hug, or even do nothing but here you kiss both of their cheeks even if you have never met them or heard of them before. The actual act is just touching cheeks but it took me a couple of days to get used to. Another difference that I have noticed here is that all the cars look like mini SUVs. The body shape and style is very boxy and looks similar to the larger vehicles that we have in the U.S. but, the car itself is much smaller and lower to the ground. Most of the cars here are very similar to each other and don't vary as much as they do in Phoenix. Another difference is that there is no housing in Grenoble and it is almost entirely apartments. I think this is because the town is very small so they do not have space for neighborhoods and housing. The apartments themselves are also much smaller which I expected but is still very different from the "open concept" housing that I am used to in Ahwatukee. A similarity that I have noticed between my counterpart and myself is how we enjoy spending time once we are done with school for the year. We both love sleeping in and for the past 4 or so days we have slept in past 10:00 am. We spend most of our time in the center of Grenoble where there is a ton of shopping and food. It seems like everyday we meet up with at least 2 of her friends. In the evenings she studies for her big final exams coming up while I read. Before bed we both enjoy laughing at the TV as she watches "Keeping up with the Kardashians" in french. Going to the "cinema", shopping, and hanging out with friends in the park seem to be popular teen activities as well here in France.
bannana, lemon, berry, and salted caramel flavored macarons
three products that we don't have in america (or at least not really):
A "cat bar": a coffeehouse filed with cats (these are everywhere).
"Strawberry syrup": a red liquid that when diluted with water creates a juice-like drink.
The center of Grenoble
The Crepe shop
The Crepe shop
"Jardin de Ville"
June 17, 2017
The food in France is extremely delicious. Since it is summer here there is ice cream everywhere and it is better than any that I have eaten in Phoenix. Other than the ice cream my favorite snacks to eat when we are out are the chocolate filled croissants or any other bread products. It isn't a lie when people say that French bread is the best. During meal times I have liked everything I have tried except one dish. Mona's mom is from Rwanda so I have tasted a few authentic dishes from there and have loved it. I wasn't expecting to eat so much either. I feel as thought I am always full and as soon as i'm not completely stuffed we are eating again. Mona's family thinks I am going to starve because my portions are smaller than theirs but I am never hungry. The only thing that I have eaten that is super out of the ordinary is this spinach dish made with whole "small fish". The texture of the fish is very crunchy but is combined well with the creaminess of the rest of the dish. I really enjoyed it. I am sure that Mona will enjoy most of the american food that I eat because I have yet to hear her tell me that there is something food related that she doesn't like. One item that I didn't expect to be as good as it is is the fish. I had this amazing salmon and pasta dish in Cannes when we went the last two days and the fish was so good. It might have been the best salmon I have ever eaten. I so badly wished my dad (the only other sea food fan in the family) could have been there to try it. My favorite food here, as expected, are crepes so I listed the recipe above.
My Host Family:
June 20, 2017
My host family includes Mona's mother, step father, little sister and the three teenage guests that are staying with them until they are 18. Mona also has an older sister that lives with her husband (but she visits a lot) and a younger step brother and sister that only stay with them a few days each month. Her stepdad works far from home as a computer engineer so he is often gone for two or three days a time. This is incredibly similar to my household because my dad works as a pilot and is also gone for a few days at a time. I am the least close to her step dad because he uses his small amount of time at home to rest and spend time with Kessy, the youngest member of the family. He speaks English pretty well and is very nice about speaking English when around me. Mona's mom is the most fun and Warm member of the family . she is constantly smiling and I can tell how much she cares about her family because she takes care of everyone so well. she speaks English too but sometimes communication is tricky since she is from Rwanda and has a strong accent. She teases everyone in a loving way and makes the house feel like a home. She and Mona have a very strong bond that makes me miss my mom and the bond that I share with her. Overall I am closest to her of all the other family members because she is so welcoming and kind. I also enjoy spending time with kessy the baby of the family because she is quite spunky and is full of energy. Since she obviously doesn't speak English (other than saying "hello') we communicate by playing copycat. she just figured out how to jump so we go back and forth hopping in front of one another. The three other teens that they are hosting are all very nice and speak a few English words but they are like most teenage boys and only come out of their room or TV area for food. Since two of them are Muslim and this month is Ramadan they are only allowed to eat when the sun is down so they spend the dab y sleeping and I haven't seen either of them very much. However, when I do see them they always ask how i'm doing are are very friendly. Living in a host family has taught me many things but the most important is to speak up when I need something and communicate effectively. I was hesitant at first but the family is very understanding and generous. I very much appreciate that they have shared their home with me and have been so caring. I couldn't have asked for a better family to stay with for three weeks and I consider myself extremely lucky. I recently played the "fast friendship" game with my counterpart and even though I think we were supposed to play it in the beginning of my stay, I actually enjoyed playing once we had already gotten to know each other because most of the questions that we had for the other person we already knew the answers to. It was eye opening as to how close we have really become. I really enjoyed the game and found it very entertaining.
June 22, 2017
When asked to talk about my best and worst day in Grenoble I realized that I couldn't really answer that. Since I have been here for three weeks I have done so many interesting, different, and cool things on different days that it is hard to pick a "best day". There also hasn't been a single day that I have been disappointed, upset, or home sick which means that my worst day was still an awesome day. So instead of talking about specific days I am going to share my favorite and least favorite activities That I have done here. One of my favorite activities that we did was hike up a mountain to the abandoned college that is a teen hot spot. While the hike was hard because of the heat and humidity the graffiti and the view made up for it. Mona and I went with the other two partnerships in the program and took photos in the school. I had an awesome time and would definitely do it again. One of my other favorite things to do here that you can't do in america is go to night clubs. Since People in France can drink at 18 the clubs start letting people in a few years early (don't worry Bethany, I didn't drink). We went twice and I had a great time dancing and hanging out with Mona's friends, most of which speak English. I have always wanted to go dancing with friends but there aren't any opportunities for people our age in the U.S.. As for aspects of life here that I don't like there is a very small list. The hardest to deal with has been the lack of air conditioning. While it is only 85-90 degrees here it is very humid which makes it feel just like back home in Phoenix where it is 110 degrees. the difference is that there is no air conditioning in most paces here which means that I have been perpetually sweaty for the past week with the exception of the three ice cold showers that I take daily. The only other problem i have had has only really been a problem the last couple of days and that is the amount of walking we have done. It was no big deal at first but I have grown a little bit tired of it at this point. The thing that I will remember most about this trip is the Center of Grenoble since I have been there almost every day. It is so beautiful and I will always remember walking around and eating gelato in the parks. Overall there is very little to complain about and I have loved my trip.
Grenoble in Winter
Grenoble in Winter
The Plane Ride
"Strawberry syrup": a red liquid that when diluted with water creates a juice-like drink.
View From Tram Stop
Epic Playground Net
June 24, 2017
I am sad that my time here is almost over but I am glad that I will now have the opportunity to share my culture with Mona. I am excited to share my favorite foods with her such as Bahama Bucks and pancakes (which they don't have in France). I am also excited to share my house with her because it is very different from her home and I am curious to see how she reacts. I can't wait to introduce her to daisy, my puppy and the rest of my family. Along with all of this I am excited for all of the activities planned on the hosting calendar. I know both Mona and I are excited for her to get to go to prom and experience all of the other american holidays. My personal favorite thing we are going to go do is Flagstaff Extreme but I know that Mona is afraid of heights so I am nervous that she will have a less than stellar experience. When coming to phoenix she should expect the weather to be very hot, but the buildings to be extremely well air conditioned, almost no walking, and to drive everywhere. She should also know that our fridge is much much colder than hers. My time abroad has exceeded all of my expectations! It has been a fantastic adventure that I wouldn't have traded for the world. Upon asking Mona what she was most excited for in the U.S. she responded with "Going to California, seeing Sedona, and meeting your family". Based on some other questions that I have asked her in the past three weeks I would say that she is excited but also a bit nervous to live with our family.
View From the Top of the Bastille
Friends at the Top of the Bastille
Mural in the Center of Grenoble
Grenoble's Sister Cities
Mona's High School
Fun French Park
Fountain in the Center
the Best Gelato Shop
Grenoble Art Museum
The Pretty Side of the River
Symbol of the Two Rivers
Hotel De Ville With the French and American Flags