To Alex, Kate, and Doug

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” –Winnie the Pooh

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What a wonderful year it’s been!  For me, this past year has been perfect.  We take the mick out of Chalon, but we really love it.  When we all first arrived in the booming metropolis of Chalon-sur-Saône, I think it made us nervous.  Who knew that this would turn out to be an amazing year?  I mean, ok, maybe we didn’t make/do party as much as we wanted, but we saw Moses’ staff!  And the Prince of Monaco! Despite being a princess-stealing, child neglecting bastard, he’s royalty!

Can you believe it all began with a picnic at my school and Shrek in French?  It pretty much became the template of our year: we eat bread and cheese, drink wine, and watch something.  And the rain.  You can’t forget the rain.  It was bad this year, the year the Saône flooded a lot.  I really wanted to run along it too, explore it.  I guess I can’t say that I follow rivers…  It didn’t hinder us from exploring other towns though! Starting with a tour of Tours and ending with a nice time in Nice, we definitely had an adventurous year and got to know each other better! (sorry, guys, I had to…)

Doug and I got to introduce you guys, Alex and Kate, to Thanksgiving.  Particularly, pumpkin pie, which is delicious.  I’m glad we also got to teach you what REAL pancakes, lemonade, and biscuits are.  We were close enough by the Fête des Lumières in December that Doug and Alex, you didn’t ditch Kate and I when we got stuck in a wall of people, even with a train to catch.  And the next week was our big adventure: renting a car to Germany! Isn’t it funny how it was the highlight of our year, yet Kate slept most of the way there and we spent less than 15 hours in actual Germany?  Still totes worth it.   We even committed crimes together: stealing disco balls, flowers, and menus; Riding trains sans composter; Sitting on the grass in Monaco; Wandering into someone’s yard, which we thought was a chateau; Stalking Kevin (though we never got to the illegal side with this.  Just Facebook).  Oh Kev…  We have our own vocabulary and understandings too, such as totes awks, porq’s pas, the sitch (or is it sit?) [No, Doug, you still can’t get away with saying that].  We also each know the significance behind the number 126.  And despite failing at a Morocco diet, we all stuck together and stayed strong throughout the year. We were always pretty good about catching the train, although Kate caused quite a scare at times, and we always got from point A to point B, despite our dismal map reading skills.  I don’t know if we would quite make it as Germans.

I learned so much from you all over this past year too, such as the difference between chips and fries (even though today, Kate, you called Alex’s fries chips!) and words like “fit,” “uni,” “cash point,” etc.  If I hadn’t met you, the phrase “touch wood” would have an entirely different meaning .  I picked up some British vocab, though I still have to say that “I went to hospital and watched the football” would be wrong.  I went to THE hospital to watch football.  Still weird.  I can’t completely tell the difference between a Yorkshire, Darbyshire, and London accent, but I can tell the difference between a posh and not posh accent, so that’s improvement, right?  I also no longer imitate any British person I hear (or only a few words), so that’s improvement.  I think Doug and I bonded over that at the beginning… though Doug may have picked up too much slang after watching the In Betweeners.  Remember, Doug, ‘Murica! And Alex, thanks for attempting to teach me Finnish, though the only thing I really remember is Moi, and I’m not even sure that’s how you spell it…

I think we all learned a lot this year, both from our schools and our traveling.  Although our English may have suffered, our knowledge of other languages has been broadened.  We’re practically French/German/Italian/Czech/Hungarian/Moroccan/Turkish!  And we learned life lessons too. Remember what the Senegalese man on the train to Lyon taught us: true beauty comes from the heart, and Alex, you are not more beautiful than his wife! As much as he might really think you are.  We met a number of the strange men, such as Alex’s brown-skinned friend, the racist who likes foreign women, or the Nice bartender.  And I didn’t even mention our favorite Frenchie, though he worried us over his expulsion. Oh what a portrait of French guys!

It’s been a great year.  And here come the waterworks (worse than Alex watching Titanic): I truly feel lucky to have been with you guys.  You guys pointed out and brought out the incredibly cheesy side of myself, and for that I thank you.  Not only did it help me to discover myself and accept who I really am, we also got some great pictures out of it! (Doug, I swear you won’t regret this in 20 years!).  You’ve all been so supportive of me through everything this year.  If you guys weren’t here, I would have felt so alone.  I would have watched HIMYM and would never have seen the day of light.  While Steve Jobs is not my personal hero, I definitely will be appreciating my iPhone and Mac to keep in touch.  Guys…. I’m going to miss you. A lot.  Just remember two things: We survived Morocco: we can do anything! And also remember: If I have to blackmail you, I have incriminating photos of each and every one of you! Muahahaha! But really, Vous me manquerez immensely and I can’t wait until we meet again!  May Dexter never find us and may the ghosts in the apartment above Kate’s allow us a safe journey home!

Cheers love! Thanks babe! Hats of to an awesome year, et a bientot!

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  (lots of love, English style)

Sam

French word of the day: Au revoir—It means goodbye, but literally translated it means until the next time I see you.  So Kate, Alex, Doug, au revoir, parce qu’on se reverra bientot.

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Things I am looking forward to from home

-Seeing everyone

-Stores open past 7pm

-Being able to do things on Sunday

-Listening to the radio

-Driving

-My puppy!

-Spicy foods, bacon, and cheddar

-Reprieve from the constant rain

-Cheaper things

-Not paying rent

-Free fitness/pool membership

-Not having to drag my laundry to the Laundromat

-Internet on my phone

-Making money

-Real coffee

-Being able to sit and read or work in a coffeeshop

-Books and TV

-Our education system

-Weddings

-Bathroom counter space

-Having a microwave and oven

 

Things I’ll miss from France

-My Chalon family, other assistants, and friends and colleagues here

-Fresh baguettes, cheese varieties, and cheap wine

-Public transportation

-Ease and affordability of travel

-A light workload

-My apartment and bed

-50m pool

-Hearing and Speaking French

-The countryside and scenery

-Markets and fresh food

-Patisseries

-The proximity to other languages and cultures

-Cathedrals

-Cafes

-Getting a little cookie or chocolate with your coffee

-Degustations

-Cooking all the time

-Hills and Mountains

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