Posted by: katelyninfrance | August 11, 2010

Oh hey there

It has been almost three months since my last post. I was planning on writing a spiel about when my parents came to visit and how we took a week in Norway with our friends and I honestly started it, but then like my computer died and it didn’t save and well, that’s life I guess. So here I am writing this from the couch in my living room under the paper maché sun, the location where I feel as if I used to do quite a bit of my writing. My first few entries were most likely done here. And now so will be my last few. Oh time. Oh how absolutely bewildering you are. I can hardly keep up with you, now can I?

So I’m back home. And I’ve been here for almost two whole months. Thoughts of the beach and parties with Sarah and seeing exchange students in Toulon and going to lycée with Manon have been replaced by thoughts of college and dorm room shopping and new beginnings. And while at times it is so unbelievably difficult to just sit with myself here in the united states, almost feeling as if I’d never left, almost feeling as if the life I’d spent so much effort and time building for myself in France was nonexistent, feeling the aching emptiness of left friends and family and joy, sometimes I look at the open path that is my future and feel so excited and so thankful for the miles of opportunity and potential that are in store for me. I’ll be starting this fall as a freshman in Oberlin College about 40 minutes outside of Cleveland, planning on double majoring in creative writing and music composition with perhaps some sort of minor in French or vocal performance. I’ll be living in Bailey House, aka the French dorm (where there is a library and French TV and French breakfasts and French speaking yaaaaay), with three other girls (oh man you know that’s gonna be a party!). Oberlin has so many opportunities available to me that just get me so excited. Like winter term, where I have the possibility of spending the month-long winter break of January doing community service in Ghana or touring castles in France or working at an orphanage in Costa Rica or even creating my own plans, whether they be abroad or local, and doing WHATEVER it is that I want to do, whether a traditional type of college activity or something quirky and incredibly ridiculous FOR CREDIT. Oh man guys. How awesome is that?! And the experimental college, aka exco, where they get student instructors and instructors from all over and do classes normally not offered by the college and suggested by the students and said instructors such as latin dance and martial arts and clothes weaving and even a course on freaking MMO’s. Then I can take horseback riding and voice lessons and piano for credit as well. And of course the writing program is apparently phenomenal, not to mention the very highly regarded conservatory. As you can see despite all the doubts that seem to constantly be in head about my choice to go to Oberlin (and about all my choices really, being indecisive is soooo much fun let me tell you) it seems like it’ll be a great place for me with such a liberal attitude and quirky, interesting, and creative people. I leave on the 30th, which just happens to be about a week after alllll of my other friends, and since my summer has just been me hanging out with them almost everyday, I’m going to seriously have to find some things to do those last few days. I’m thinking about forcing an entire summer’s worth of creativity and writing like a maniac all the time, and reflecting on my year in France and life in general, and playing the piano and maybe taking my bike out to Border’s just to read all day (idea courtesy of Kristin who is a genius pretty much).

So there is honestly so much that I could and probably should be writing. I’m in a weird mood right not though and as writing is artistic and such, it’s kinda difficult to just be like- GO! YOU WILL WRITE AS IF YOU WERE IN THIS MOOD AND IT WILL BE GENUINE! So I’m gonna post some stuff I wrote before. And I’ll probs be updating this maybe eventually with more on how tough it can be to be a rebound, and how much I miss like everything about France. Oh readjustment, you sneaky little devil, you!

So first off I wrote these two little vignettes for out principal, Nesbitt, as my sort of senior project deal as I didn’t get a chance to take it in the states and it’s a required course. I also sent him the song I wrote and the link to this blog. Baaaasically the easiest senior project ever eheheh. These two pieces aren’t really alllll that good or anythings and they could totes be elaborated on and stuff but I’mma post them anyway because I like long posts and feel as if you all deserve one after so long. Hooray for forcing this post to be ridiculously lengthy! 😀


“And now, everybody, we have a rather multi-national program tonight. Get excited, because the next performer is our very own dear American, Katelyn!” announced a student MC in French in the Salle Paul Eluard in La Ciotat, France.

Oh god, oh no, there is no WAY he actually just said that, I thought as all the heads within a 3 meter radius turned to face me, both those of my friends and of people I never even realized knew who I actually was. Sarah and Emma started giggling as I quickly moved towards the stage, pushing people aside with a “pardon, desolé, c’est moi l’américaine là” and ungracefully hoisting myself up and joining Guillaume, my rather handsome piano accompanist, in front of the crowd.

There were a good number of people that night- the turnout for the Soirée Black and White, which was a fundraiser for the Seconde Europeene class’s trip to Chicago, was rather successful. I steadied myself in front of the microphone, turning to my pianist and nodding as he glanced back. And the music started, a gentle flow of notes on the keyboard, the room quieting down after hours of rock groups screaming incomprehensible lyrics in heavily accented English. I started singing My Immortel by Evanescence, a song rather low for my opera-trained soprano voice. I clutched the microphone with my hands, leaning into the more dramatic parts and conveying as much emotion as I could, even if the majority of the listeners probably couldn’t understand a word of what I was saying. And then it was over, Guillaume playing his last delicate arpeggio and my voice dwindling out into the cheers of the crowd. I beamed and shot Guillaume a quick high-five before descending the stage, my friends running up to me in congratulations amidst the continuing cheers. It was a moment in which I felt entirely and completely content, overjoyed with this country and it’s people and it’s opportunities.

The entirety of my year as an exchange student on the French Riviera has by no stretch of the imagination been like the above story the entire time. From the first day in the airport with a 7 hour layover in DC, and showing up exhausted in Nice, baggage lost, or perhaps my host mom leading a terrified me like an abused puppy up to the high school, searching for my name on the class lists for “Premiere L”, I’ve been through some rather difficult times. I’ve experienced loneliness- days spent in front of the computer feeling worthless and without friends, gentle leaps of happiness- a text from a French girl wishing me a happy new year, and bounding joy- spending hours singing in the music room surrounded by people, or being invited (and rather enjoying!) a party, or shouting “smurfette!” with Sarah and Manon in gym class while trying to come up with our routine for acrosport. And throughout all of these moments I’ve lived through, I’ve gained. I’ve gained a new language, I’ve gained new families, new friends, and I’ve gained new skills and confidence in myself. And I’ve lost. I’ve lost a “normal” senior year in the United States , I’ve lost opportunities to make new relationships and to take AP classes and to have a part in the school play. But I’ve never been one for regrets, and I am thankful for all that I have now: 4 moms, 4 dads, 4 sisters, 1 brother, 4 cats, 2 dogs, 2 guinea pigs, birds, wild rabbits, Manon, Sarah, Gaëtan, Benjamin, Raphael, Eli, Oneza, Vanessa, Emma, Yuriy, Guillaume, Théo, at least 4 bakeries within walking distance, fresh nutella crepes, crispy baguettes for breakfast, new beautiful homes, a new beautiful language, a new beautiful life. And it will be difficult to step on that plane in two weeks and leave it all behind for another new home and another new life in college. But I’m trusting (and hoping!) in my new-found abilities to adapt and to learn to love the exciting terrifying newness that is growing up. And with skills like that, I will be able to accomplish my dreams and continue moving forward.


I don’t understand time. What is this concept of clocks constantly turning, spinning in the same rhythm as the globe, forever and ever? It seems as if each tick-tock of the second hand these days is a pointing finger, a laughing voice. Tick-tock! Ha-ha! I can’t quite pin-point the exact moment in my life when all the world’s clocks changed into such haughty creatures. It’s rather mean; to be honest, holding their superior knowledge above our pathetically human heads.

But it is what it is, and if there is anything I learned this past year, it’s that more often than not, we just need to accept things as they are and learn to live with them.

At the beginning of this year I was thrust into the bright sunlight of St Cyr Sur Mer. I stared out into the ocean with feelings of indescribable loneliness as my 14 year old host sister smoked and laughed with her friends, tossing empty beer bottles into the port. And I cried out of sheer overwhelming confusion and exhaustion on the couch after my first day of school, sobbing that I couldn’t do it, that I wanted to go home, that I was wrong- I wasn’t strong enough. But the days passed, time continued on despite my struggles, perhaps even in spite of them. I built my life one vocabulary word, one nonsensical grammar rule, at a time. I was charmed and betrayed, confused and certain, slowly figuring out the slight differences in culture that somehow managed to make all the difference. I whacked myself in the head and beat furiously against my tough shell of timidity and self-consciousness, desperately trying to overcome powerful waves of feelings of inadequacy. With every “coucou” and kiss on the cheek I felt elongated and separate, confused and stuck between “friend” and “obligation.” And somehow I lived. I managed. I gripped onto the hands of the clock and held on for dear life as it made it’s endless cycles, eventually joining in it’s turns and spinning like a dancer. I threw off my shawl of fear and said “screw it”, speaking broken “franglais” and making up words and completely butchering tenses. I took a deep breath and forced myself to talk with someone new, or someone new enough. I asked what people were doing the next weekend. I forced and shoved myself into their groups. I chickened out and I felt the pressure of how completely and entirely culturally inappropriate the things I was doing were, at least for my culture. But I was determined to not follow the binding rules of Americanism. I found that in America it is the group that invites in the outsiders, but in France it is the outsider who consciously joins the group. I learned that just because I’d do different things with my friends in the US than with my friends in France didn’t make either of them any less of my friends. I discovered what I call “French politeness” and how easily us “warm Americans” can mistake it for coldness and a snobby unwillingness to open up to strangers. And I slowly managed to form myself into some sort of French-American, finding my own niche and place as a type of world citizen. Things between cultures aren’t black and white. I am not certain and will perhaps never be certain if I really am reading the signals correctly, if I’m right in what my newly conditioned instinct is telling me. But as with the mystery of time, this is a mystery that we just have to let be. That we just need to accept as being there but not let it hinder our lives and prevent us from exploring new experiences. That we can take this fact with us and laugh at how ridiculously confusing and difficult it is to move forward, but then take perhaps a rather mean haughty exterior, and continue on anyways.

Okay so I guess I’ll post these other little two fairly worthless things I wrote when feeling depressed just because I feel like it and it gives some insight into how I was feeling towards the beginning of this summer. Oh man do I have a lot to write about that. Like saying goodbye to my friends, especially breaking down crying in the hallway hugging Manon as tight as I could. And then missing my flight out of Marseille. Eheh. Yeah. Okay so these are honestly just little things I wrote when I was forcing myself to write just sort of stream of conscious style and I wasn’t really expecting to share them with anyone but HERE I GO ANYWAYS LOL!


I have grown and you have grown and she has grown and this exchange has been nothing but a constant growing for everyone involved.

I don’t quite know what to write. I just know that this writing is long overdue. But time has just been so finicky lately, it’s been speeding past me and yet I’ve been so horrendously bored and wanting more, desiring more from these seconds that dance around my head, laughing at my absolute inability to do anything. For I am helpless, we all are, when it comes to the master that is time. Like a temptress she revels in this power and dangles it in front of our faces. And we paw at it like frustrated kittens until she yanks it just out of our grasps.


oh dear god save me from this defeaning sadness, from this horrific melancholy that overtakes me at the sound of clair de lune by debussy. when the song plays it is just me and guillaume in the music room. he is at the electric piano and i am sitting on the desk right next to him, feet dangling off the sides. i swing them gently as he starts playing with such a smooth fervor, such an emotion, fingers stroking the keys with a softness, a douceur that makes my heart ache and reach out to him, hands desperately clutching at air, at smoke, at the water that flows from this beautiful melody played with such earnesty and truth. and i see manon sitting at the other piano, the actual one which i would always chose to play as it was real and i could feel its push and pull, the warmth that emanated from the wood used to create it. she starts to play the first nocturne by chopin and i melt into its tearful chords and gentle decrescendos.

Weeelllll there you go. Yeah. I’m not really sure how to end this to be honest. I could talk about the note Manon wrote me with a poem and her adorable doodles that I must have read a million times especially in the airplane, close to tears next to a college student returning from a semester abroad. I could talk about my last few weeks going out alllll the time and coming back early in the morning and somehow managing to make it zombie-like and tired to school. I could talk about the last dinner with my first two host families, the amazing hiking trip with all of them (in which there are pictures on facebook just sayin’), saying goodbye to Eli and Oneza and Vanessa, my last days in school with a little “goûter” in French class, going to the beach on Tuesday afternoon with some classmates, even the whole freaking week with my family in France and the concert that I performed in with a band (actually hey go check these videos out, despite the fact that I am AWKWARD AS HELL onstage since I’m such an opera singer at heart and have never performed rock live before it’s still kinda cool to see: (I’m towards the end of this one), and finally, that being said please don’t judge my inability to be somewhat cool and anything more than awkward heap of “hey she sounds pretty good I guess” onstage. Just want to post these anyways because it was SUCH a fun night and my families and friends were there to see me!) and then the week in Norway and coming back with one less suitcase and yet still feeling as if it was going to be impossible to pack everything up and get back to the states. And I could even talk about my summer with these friends of mine that I had missed so much and getting together with Abel and oh hey Katelyn can just write and write and write novels and novels of absolute uninteresting nonsense if she had the drive to, couldn’t she? Ahaha yup. Well, I’m thinking that’s all for now. We’ll see if and when I’ll update again. I really do like blogging so perhaps I’ll continue that a bit even though I’m technically no longer an exchange student, who knows. Bye guys, and thanks so much for reading throughout this year of craziness, I really do appreciate it! Love you aaaalllll!!!!!



  1. Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah !!!!!!!!!!!! Katelyn, je suis trop contente que tu aies écrit! Lire tout ce que tu as écrit, oui oui tout et j’ai absolument tout compris (heu ça veut dire quoi doodles? 🙂 ), m’a rappelé tellement de bons souvenirs! Tu écris super bien j’ai beaucoup aprécié tes vignettes (en écoutant ta sublime voix sur YT en même temps) continues! Je suis contente de voir que tu as été acceptée dans la maison française de ton “college” Cool que tu puisses partir dans 1 pays dans ce cadre là.
    Et aussi je suis heureuse de voir que tu ne m’oubies pas! (eh je suis citée 5 fois je crois!) J’aime particulièrement le moment où tu me peints comme une pianiste française jouant Chopin. Je trouve ça tellement poétique! Je me sens comme une mystérieuse héroïne de roman, ton roman peut-être? Ah la la, quelle poète je suis! LOL N’empèche je n’imaginais pas que m petite lettre et mon petit poème ( de rien du tout ) te feraient cet effet-là! Je suis contente de moi! Après tout, la joie d’un artiste c’est de réussir à émouvoir son public!
    Bon ce commentaire devient long… Je vais te laisser en espérant que tu réecriras ici comme ça je pourrais écrire d’autres commentaires! 😀
    Biz traversant l’océan jusqu’à toi!

  2. ps : j’étais la 1ere à écrire 1 comm’! C’est pas cool ça! Bon, cette fois-ci, je m’en vais vraiment!

  3. MANOOOOOON! J’ai vu ce que t’as écrit et bon il fallait que je t’ai repondu mais je ne l’ai pas fait jusqu’a maintenant car je suis nulle. 😦 Tu me manques tellement tu ne sais pas, franchement! La je suis à Oberlin et je parle francais casiment tous les jours mais bon, c’est pas de tout pareil. Il y a des photos sur facebook de notre classe avec toi et moi à coté et ça m’a presque fait pleurer vraiment! C’est dur des fois mais je vais revenir! Surmeeeent! J’espere que tout se passe bien en Terminale, j’imagine que c’est beaucoup de travail. Bonne chance! 😀

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: