Here is what I wrote on the airplane.
Oh. My. GOD.
I’m on the plane right now, and we’re currently flying over New Brunswick. The takeoff was smooth, and oddly enough I felt completely fine about it. It feels almost like being on a descending elevator, but significantly magnified; I found it fun, too, not scary.
Going through security was by far the most stressful part of the whole experience. Of course, there were tonnes of people and lots of noise, but it also seemed as though English was a second language for many of the workers at the airport; it was a bit difficult to understand some of them at times. We had to put our coats and carry-ons on white plastic trays to be checked, and computers had to be on a separate tray. When I walked through the metal detector, the worker told me to take my boots off and put them on a tray; when I walked back to the conveyor belt to follow his instructions, the attendant there kind of yelled at me to go through the metal detector. Everything was fine, though, eventually; I felt very calm throughout the whole experience. Alert, for sure, and on my toes, but centred- I wasn’t freaking out! Some other people weren’t so lucky, though- a bunch of kids got their tweezers taken away, and some of them lost their toothpaste as well. There was a woman whose young child ran away from her while she was putting her coat onto the plastic tray, and she had to chase her all the way to the back of the line- which was huge. For now, I think I’ll put this away and talk to the people next to me- stay tuned.
Update: HOLY FUCK! We’re going through turbulence as I’m writing this, and it’s crazy! I still, strangely, feel totally fine- the past few days I’ve been worried that I’d be freaking out. The flight attendants were handing out dinner before the turbulence started, on trays that occupied the width of the aisle. One of the girls I’m sitting next to said that she was feeling rather hungry; because I have an aisle seat, I told her I’d inquire about food for her.
When one of the flight attendants walked by, I asked her (in English) if we could choose some food from the trolley when it came by, or if we had to order it. She had a sock bun and a lot of red lipstick. With the most trained and superficial of smiles, she said (in broken English with a heavy accent,) ‘you wait your turn.’ Without waiting for a reply, the flight attendant promptly turned and walked away. Being Canadian, my face (of course) turned beet red- a few deep breaths, though, and I was calm again.
A different flight attendant (this time a lithe, willowy, twenty-something man with a wispy beard) asked if would like anything to eat or drink a little while later (in English,) and I replied in French- his face lit up like a Christmas tree.
My wonderfully amazing French teacher had told me about this- people here will be much more inclined to help you out if you address them in French.
Okay, as I literally just finished typing the sentence above, and as I pressed the ‘period’ key- conflict! Rudeness! Anger!
Erica, the girl who was hungry before, tried to put her seat back, and I think accidentally pushed it too far; the woman behind her leaned forward, her face like a harpy, and screeched in her ear: ‘excuse me! My food’s going to fall onto my lap!’
Like with my schism with the flight attendant, her innate Canadian etiquette seized her Amygdala and released a bout of guilt/shame/embarrassment hormones into her bloodstream. I tried to comfort her by amicably cupping her hand.
Update: We’re leaving North America and heading out over the Atlantic (oh, more turbulence). I’m absolutely elated! There’s these cool screens built into the back of the seat in front of us that allow us to track our flight or watch movies. They’ve also provided a French magazine- I think I’ll steal it for my French teacher. We’re going to land in Paris at about 08:00 in the morning, so I should probably try to get some sleep tonight… We’ll see. When we first took off, the city below us was so beautiful: all of the lights formed a quilt or mosaic-like pattern below us. The streets were the brightest- the movement of the cars made them look like rivers of golden light.
Okay, I have to put this computer away- we’re in ‘very heavy turbulence.’
The turbulence has subsided. I am a little dumbfounded, actually, that I’m not freaking out- and it’s not as though I’m trying to convince myself that I’m fine, I feel totally at ease! Soon, we’ll be flying over Newfoundland…. I’ll let you know when that happens.
Ms. Red lipstick sockbun is retrieving the food trays from the block of seats next to me, and her butt is kind of in my face; I have the urge to poke it with my pen. I guess I’m currently experiencing the anger stage of the grieving process. Ha.
On our way in to the airport, we stopped at Tim Hortons and Walmart. At Tim Hortons, I got a mint tea; Mother got a coffee, Luke a hot chocolate, and they both had a bagel. At Walmart, coincidentally, we ran into my Grandparents on my Mother’s side. My Grandmother is sick with a chest infection right now; at first, she said her farewells to me over the phones, but then came to the house before we left with a scarf wrapped around her mouth. It was nice to see her and Grandfather again before my departure. She had penned me a note/letter (the message was to a letter as a novella is to a novel) saying goodbye that I proudly glued into my journal. We got a $1 bag of oranges and bananas (they were on clearance because of their age; I love the old, brown-spotted bananas, and they were basically perfect, so hooray for that.), some trail mix, and a salad. Luke got a pack of Hubba Bubba gum.
Update: Awesome flight attendant guy who was happy that I spoke French to him just gave me a small boxed chocolate, with an accompanying wink, when he came by to collect our garbage! Awesome! It’s called ‘Cœur de France: Une histoire de caramel. Caramels au beurre salé.’ That’s so freaking nice! I’m going to glue every single food wrapper I have into my journal while I’m abroad, I swear- maybe I’ll take some pictures of it when it’s full.
Madame Young, my fantastic French teacher, had a lot to say about France and the French. Among many other tidbits of information, she remarked that the French often discuss the flavours and textures of their food and drink while in the process of consumption. I think I’ll do the same.
Okay, I’m un-boxing the chocolate right now. Alright- so, there’s three little chocolates in the box, each in their own individual wrapper. Ah, I’ve made a mistake- they’re not chocolates at all, but hard candies. Each of them appears to be different, though; there are two rectangular ones and one in the shape of a disc. Here we go! I’m opening a soft rectangular one that says ‘le solidau’ on the wrapper.
Mmmmm….. It’s really good. It kind of tastes like the toffees you can get a Mac’s that come in plaid-printed bags; I can’t quite recall the name of the brand. It kind of stuck to the wrapper a bit, so I had to scrape it off with my teeth; it wasn’t as sticky as I had anticipated, though, and started to melt after I chewed it three or four times.
Okay, now I’m opening the disc-shaped one… it’s wrapped in red-and-orange packaging that says ‘La Palourde’ on it. The ‘r’ is written bigger than the other letters in a kind of mock-handwriting font- cute. Oh, wow! It’s really, really good! It’s kind of crumbly and is reminiscent of coffee cake.
Alright, last one- it’s wrapped in yellow with red stripes, with little red strawberries forming a kind of border on the edge. It says ‘Salidou’ and ‘Fraise de Plougaste’ on it. Here we go- mmmmmm. It kind of tastes like Laffy Taffy, but the texture is much better, and it’s not as sticky.
Ah. That was satisfying. Thank you so much, friendly flight attendant! You’re the best
We’ve flown past Newfoundland now… the screen says that there’s about four and a half hours left of the flight. I don’t feel tired, really- just excited.
So, Mother left as soon as we got to the airport. Our farewells were happy- no tears shed! I think that the excitement was mutual. I’ll message her later and ask if she cried on the way home.
I waited next to a girl named Mary and her family. Not only does her exchange partner live in the Rhônes-Alpes region, she lives in Grenoble as well! We won’t be attending the same school, but so far I’ve met about three students, including her, who’ll be staying in Grenoble. None of them will be attending Lycée Champollion with me, though. Mary made for pleasant conversation, and her Father told me that he felt much more comfortable leaving her daughter at the airport knowing that she’d met another exchange student in the same program. It comforted him, he said, that we would be travelling together not only to Paris, but on the plane to Lyon as well. When we got to the ‘deposit baggage’ area, I scanned my boarding pass and there were no issues. Luckily enough for me, a flight attendant walked me through the whole process and it went quite smoothly. When Mary went to deposit her checked luggage, though, she wasn’t so lucky- all of the conveyor belts stopped working, and it took the workers about fifteen minutes to fix them. Her parent’s didn’t leave until we went through customs.
I don’t feel as though a lot have time has passed… maybe it’s just the excitement, but the time I spent in the lounge before boarding went by very fast- I feel as though I walked into the airport, blinked my eyes, and here I am.
I spent my time in the lounge with Mary and two other girls- Lexey and Abbi. Abbi, too, is keeping a blog, and she gave me the link- I’ll have to check it out. Mary and I went to go get some water (a very kind soul, this Mary- she took it upon herself to purchase a bottle for me), after receiving some paperwork from the chaperones. When we got to the counter, the cashier (who had a very thick Indian accent) said ‘this water five dollars’. What the heck frick? Five dollars? Way to capitalize on the wait, Airport people. We ended up a different brand that cost three dollars for a bottle. Still, it was a rip off, but I guess that’s life!
I spent a great deal of time explaining the movie Amélie to my companions with my usual degree of exuberance. It turns out that they were all book-loving Potterheads, like me, so the conversation was pretty natural and unstrained. So far, this experience has been amazing. I’m so happy I did this- and how fortunate for Canadian students that programs like these exist!
I’m going to try to get some rest right now, I think… I wonder if my Mother is asleep. Anyways, goodnight, readers- Bon nuit.