22 Aug Hello France, Goodbye France: My exchange year in Mâcon
I’ve hidden this about myself to people, but the older I grow up, the more I can’t deny who I am – I am a lover of books. I enjoy the presence of libraries and bookstores and the stories that are contained with each of them. Maybe it’s just me, but I still love the smell of new and old books, and the feeling of holding one while reading it; neither a laptop nor a Kindle provides me with such satisfaction.
So when I heard about an event called Hello France, Goodbye France: My exchange year in Mâcon, I knew I had to go. The event was basically a young Hong Kong girl who had a 10-month exchange program in France who wrote and published a book about her experiences during her time there. When I first stepped in Alliance Française de Hong Kong – Jordan Centre, where the event was held, I was in awe as I never knew there was a huge collection of French books that were available in Hong Kong!
The event was mainly a one and a half hour question and answer session with the author Shadow and both her publisher (or whom I believe to be the publisher) and the audiences themselves.
Shadow recounts numerous humorous anecdotes, including not knowing who her mathematics teacher was even at the end of the year as the teacher never showed up, how she had to wake up at 6am everyday to catch the only bus per day that goes to her school, and her fascination and mildly unpleasant French food she has had. On the flip side, she also mentioned about some of her more sad stories, including experiencing racism from some of her students, missing food from Hong Kong (no Chinese food for 10 months), and trying to correct a Chinese teacher’s mistake only to be reprimanded. She also talked about how she had two host families, the first one that didn’t work out, and the second one which she had a lovely time with the parents and the four kids.
One thing’s for sure is that I definitely wouldn’t be living in Mâcon. Even though some of her photos showed how beautiful and reflective the water was, the remoteness of the location would be too unbearable for a city person like me. If you search Mâcon in Google Maps, you will see that it’s west of Geneva and north of Lyon, and marks a halfway point between Paris and Nice.
Goodbye Mâcon indeed.
*By the way, the book is in Traditional Chinese and is available on Amazon for print or Kindle.