Salut tout le monde,
I hope all is well with you, I'm doing very well here in France. As the seventh-month mark of my exchange nears, I am so amazed by how fast everything is going by. Right now all I wish would happen is that everything stops and will never end.
Rotary Youth Exchange is made to push you out of your comfort zone, this is something I've learned time and time again. It was never made to be easy. Exchange is designed to make leaders that can move forward in life and change the world.
In January, I switched host families. What a change!  I've never had any brothers, only sisters. My extent of "brothers" in my life would be my two dogs Whiskey and Baileys back home.
Imagine my surprise when I found myself right in the middle of a family with four sons. I can tell you that I am not prepared for this upcoming April Fools. My younger brother, Charles-Antoine and one of my older brothers, Axel, have had the opportunity to take these two weeks to begin planning April Fool pranks.
This will be the first year that I will be needing to be on my toes, as it will not be like my father who said: "look there are coyotes in the backyard" and that was April Fools.  I am now preparing myself for toothpaste Oreos, hot sauce in ice cream and ice cubes down the shirt.
As the French government has asked everyone to stay at home, my host mom is with us 24/7.  I'm very happy that she's here because it balances out the boy to girl ratio in the house. Though the balance is thrown off when my host dad comes home from work.
My host mom is a speech therapist, putting her incredible teaching skills to use she is teaching me with my grammar. My host Dad works in the military and works 4 days out of 7.
It's been two weeks since school has been officially closed, yet classes continue. My teachers have switched to online courses. For the first time this year, my class is completely silent. Not a peep nor complaint breaks the silence that fills the room, also known as my bedroom. I am pretty sure the fact that we have to mute our microphones might have something to do with it.
Even though I'm at home enjoying the weather and the pool, there is no lack of homework, and there is no lack of not wanting to do the homework.
When I'm not working at school I am either exercising with my host mom, having family conversations, or beating my host brothers at video games.
It may seem that the routine of school, grammar, poolside lounging, and video game victories may become boring, but I promise you that there is no lack of adventures. Just this past week I got the chance to experience what it would be like to be an exterminator.
How did I  experience being an exterminator from the comfort of my own home you may ask, well let me tell you. As I am doing online courses, I've found myself working at my desk and in my room quite frequently.  Last week,  I would see ants parade across my desk or on the floor near my desk.
My host family and I assumed that the ants, looking for someplace warm, were coming from the vents that are in my bathroom. We placed ant poison in the vents and waited a couple of days.
Still, I had ants using my desk as a fashion runway. It was only when my host mom, when searching through her papers in the desk drawer that she located the colony of ants that had found a way into the wood of the desk drawer. With a spritz of ant spray, they were all dead.
My host family is taking this time to teach me not only French grammar but the fine arts of cinema, opera, and music that the French have to offer.
I have watched two incredible French films, La Grande  Vadrouille and Les Choristes. As the Opera House of Paris has closed, they have decided to stream their performances of ballets, operas, and plays for the public to see on TV. My host mom and I take some of our afternoons to enjoy these performances.
To take a break from our busy week, my host family has taken Wednesday afternoon as our anti-technology and family bonding time. We take this time to play board games, talk, eat cookies and chocolate.
My host dad takes this time to purposely mispronounce English words to bother me. Further, as we have many more Wednesdays ahead of us, I decided to order an 890 piece 3D puzzle.
Back home in Canada my family and I enjoy completing puzzles such as this one, and my host family is very excited to take on the challenge.
As you all know, many exchange students have decided to go back to their home countries. My parents back in Canada and I have decided to finish my exchange. In a district that started as 17 students, we are now down to 6. I've said farewell to many friends. I will not lie, many tears have been shed.
One of the hardest farewells was to one of my best friends, Osha. Eva ( from Argentina), Osha (from the U.S), and I have become sisters. At the airport, my heart was breaking as I said "see you soon" to a sister, not knowing when it will be.
Eva was also considering leaving, but the Argentinian embassy told her to stay put. I am very happy with that decision - I will not lie. I was very prepared, and scared, that I would have to "say see you soon" to another sister.
Though I miss all my friends who have left, I know that I will see them in the years to come, and at the 5-year reunion set for 2025. So this is just a pause on our adventures together.
The French government may have me at home, but I would not want to be anywhere else. I am so happy to be here in France living out a dream that is my reality.
I am going to use each day to the fullest. I am going to enjoy French cheese and baguettes; swim in the pool while enjoying the wonderful 20-degree weather, as much as I can in the remaining months.
I am waiting for all the adventures ahead of me. I promise that I will make you proud, and I promise to bring home the trophy of "Survivor of RYE 2020."
Au revoir,

Stephanie Leach