Hello from France!

It is incredible how fast the days begin to blend together.

I regretfully have to announce that my exchange is half over.

In November, I had the opportunity to attend a Neonsplash paint party with a group of other exchange students from around the world. We had an incredible time listening to the music and attacking each other with bottles of paint.

The morning after this event, I went with my Rotary counsellor and the other exchange students in my Rotary club to the art museum Louvre-Lens and the city of Lille, France to explore the town and visit the Christmas market.

December brought a field trip to Liege, Belgium where we went to an incredible exposition on the First World War. I celebrated my first Christmas in Belgium at my host grandparents’ house.

Christmas here is celebrated on Christmas Eve and lasts well into Christmas morning.

On Dec. 30, I said goodbye to my first family and moved to my second host family.

This has given me the opportunity to live the next four months in France, as they live in a small French town right near the Belgium border. On New Year’s Eve I went to a small party with the kids of my host parents’ friends. New Year’s Day was celebrated with huge meals at my new host grandparents’ and the exchanging of gifts.

The month of January was very busy. Last month, I volunteered to work at a badminton tournament, made Brazilian food, visited the city of Antwerp, and was fortunate enough to go skating. Add in playing with my three-year-old host sister and there has been very little free time.

I am continuing to make friends at school; it becomes a lot easier as my language skills improve.

Despite a few challenges, I have had an incredible last three months (I can’t believe it has been three months already) and I am looking forward to my remaining six months abroad.

I am very excited to have my mom, dad and brother coming to visit me soon. Thanks again to both the Merritt Rotary Club and the Rotary Club of Merritt — Sunrise for the wonderful opportunity.

Stephanie Tourand is Merritt’s Rotary Outbound Exchange student. She is spending the year in Belgium and France and returns in July.