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HC Abroad: J’aime Jazz & Gelato

It’s past the campers’ bedtime. Sadly, I don’t have a bedtime. Once upon a time I resented scheduled bedtimes, at home and at camp when I was told to go to sleep and instead stayed up secretly shining a flashlight under my blanket to read until I fell asleep naturally. I am so close to falling off this chair and sleeping on the linoleum, but I have a feeling it’d be better for everyone if I made it to bed tonight.

Today was the second Mont St. Michel field trip in my American Village history, and it was a huge success if not a bit tiring. The fresh batch of kids was excited to see Mont St. Michel despite the drizzling rain and the long bus ride. I fell asleep Kindle in hand on the way there and the way back, blissfully unaware of the rapid fire French conversations happening around me.

Once we unloaded the bus of kids and snacks, we split up into groups of seven and I trundled off with my herd. We had about an hour and a half to spend walking up and down the streets leading to the Mont St. Michel and to take in the views from the top. My group was more interested in rifling through tourist trap sale shelves and grabbing a tray of frites or an ice cold glace (ice cream), and having seen it already I was perfectly happy to wander around and keep count of their little bobbing heads among the swarming tourists.

I ordered a green apple gelato with my Franglais and the help of a camper because I’m supposed to pretend I understand zero French, and we all happily walked up and down the Mont St. Michel until it was time to meet at the base again. Once we were all gathered, we had snack and then did a ‘safari photo’ game. We had to traipse back through the streets and check off as many tasks on the list as we could, everything from ‘take a picture with an animal’ to ‘take a picture of the coolest thing you’ve seen today’.

My group loved the challenge and ended up picking a giant tub of Nutella as the coolest thing they saw. Along the way we witnessed a strange yet wonderful balcony performance in French, complete with an alto sax player in the middle. So many things about France are magical, and I cease to be amazed so far.

So as I work on my ESL (English as a second language) lesson plan for tomorrow and try to stay awake, I’m reflecting on my time here. I’ve learned so much and made so many great connections, as well as picking up a little more French and getting back into writing and receiving snail mail. By the way, the lack of phone communication and the increase in old fashioned communication here has been lovely. If anyone wants to write me, contact me at Kay Away for the address and I’ll return the favor!

Until next week, Clementine.

Kayla Riley is a senior studying journalism and English at the University of Maine. When she's not rushing around campus in fabulous shoes or making deadline, she can be found devouring the latest Jodi Picoult novel or being quippy with friends. She recently spent a semester at the American University in Bulgaria, studying and experiencing Eastern Europe's diverse culture all while learning how to ask for a pair of shoes in her size. She plans to publish her first novel before age 30 and travel the world even sooner. She is pursuing a career in journalism in the Boston area. Follow her on Twitter @KaylaRiley! 
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