8 Weeks in France

Recently Harriet Watson and Eloise Dance returned from an 8 week experience in France. Here is their story:

Two years of planning and we were finally on our way to France. Accompanied by Ms Elliot, we started our 30-hour voyage to Paris. Once we arrived, we found our apartment which was right in the middle of the enormous city.

After three days of being typical tourists and navigating the Metro, we headed off to Lannion, which was to be our home for eight weeks. Arriving at the train station, we were greeted by one of last year’s exchange students. It was awesome to see a familiar face in such a foreign environment. After walking through the town, we reached our new school which consisted of four large concrete buildings, each with at least four storeys. Call it daunting! After meeting our homestays it finally started to sink in…we were going to live in France for two months.

What an amazing two months they were! Aside from the language, the main difference for us was school. For starters, at Félix Le Dantec there are only Years 11–13, but there are over 2000 students! It started at 8 am and could go as late as 5.30 pm. There are no uniforms and lunch is all provided in a massive cafeteria! If you don’t have a class and the teacher can’t come, or does not show up, the class is cancelled and you can do whatever you want for the time of that class, including going into the town which was about a 10-minute walk!

The local people are all very friendly and helpful. They were willing to help us in any way possible, and it surprised me at the amount of English everyone knew. If we were ever stuck, everyone would use their limited English to help us; it made us feel so welcome in the town, especially when we were contacted by the Ouest-France newspaper for an interview! In a cafe a few days after the article was published, the lady behind the counter was so excited to tell her husband that she had served us! It was such an amazing feeling!

Some of the highlights from this trip were definitely meeting and making lots of new friends, strengthening our relationships with the students from last year, and just getting to experience a whole new way of life, learning a new culture, and improving our French speaking. We would do it again in a heartbeat and we highly recommend it to anyone taking French; it’s an experience you really don’t want to miss. If you have any questions we are more than happy to share more of our experience.

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