I'm on a TGV right now, headed towards my first farm. The past few days at Sam's have been mostly good; we spent an afternoon in Tours, a beautiful city with a cathedral, a church, and random other cool-looking buildings. Also the Loire runs through it. Sam spent a few weeks there before his semester abroad in Paris, so he knew his way around a bit. I spent a day on my own while Sam was working; didn't do too much of import, but I talked to a few French people while buying various foodstuffs/ mailing a postcard, so I felt relatively accomplished.
One not-so-great thing was that while playing handball (the European version, a bit like a combination of basketball and soccer), I managed to hurt my (right) shoulder while taking a shot. I don't think it's anything too serious, but the shoulder's been sore and a bit swollen since then. I'm hoping I will still be able to perform my necessary farm duties, but I will probably let the farmer(s) know that I probably shouldn't be doing any heavy lifting for the first few days.
My broken body aside, I'm quite excited to be on my way to the farm. This is something that I've been planning to do for years. I'm also realizing that this doesn't feel like a "trip" as the other trips this year (Israel, Kenya) have. I'm in Europe for 4 months, so there's much less urgency to see/ do things; I assume I'll have th etime to do and see the things I want to. It's also quite different in that there will be things expected of me while on the farms, whereas in Israel and Kenya (and, indeed, so far in France) there's been someone who is taking point on everything; all I have to do is follow along.
My French is occasionally decent, more often not so great. I get flustered and forget simple vocab/ easy constructions pretty easily. Since I also get flustered relatively easily when talking to strangers in English, this shouldn't be too much of a surprise. Still, I expect that my French will eventually pick up, though only if I actually start speaking French more often (spoke mostly English with Sam). Of the two farmers, I know one of them is German; I'm hoping the other is French, though I know they both speak English, so I will have to have some force of will and make myself speak French with them. Maybe for my next farm I will choose one where they only speak French.
Time for some random thoughts.
There's a lot of graffiti in France. A lot of it is really good, artistically, and it generally seems to be the case that people appreciate this and don't take it down. And sometimes there are some nice messages: just passed under a bridge where someone had spraypainted "SExISM = FACHISM" [sic].
Some notes for potential future WWOOFERs: pack lighter than you think you will need to. If possible, bring one camping backpack with extra room in it. Don't pack it to the brim, and DON'T bring more than one very small other bag.