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Marcel Proust, the French novelist once said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new lands but in seeing with new eyes.” At Wenona, we want our students to learn about different cultures, explore new ideas and consider different perspectives.
For our French students, having the opportunity to travel to France and stay with a host family, not only helped them to improve their conversation skills, but it gave them a much a deeper understanding of cultural differences and taught them a lot about themselves in the process.
Here’s what they had to say.
“During the Christmas holidays I travelled to France to partake in an exchange program with the Hunter Hill and Le Vésinet exchange. I particularly enjoyed this experience, despite being away from home for Christmas, it was an amazing time and I learnt a lot from being there - both about the language and the culture, and about myself. A particular highlight was going to Disneyland with the other Australians doing the program and getting to spend the day there, as well as all of the time I got to spend with my French sister and her family. Overall, it was one of the best things I have done during my school career.”
Anna (Year 11)
“During the Christmas holidays I spent 6 weeks on exchange in France. I stayed in a small village just outside of Paris called Le Vésinet which is the corresponding village to Hunters Hill in Sydney. While on exchange I got to visit the Eiffel tower, the Louvre, many museums, and of course Disneyland, whilst also going to many shopping malls. French school was very different to school in Australia but it was a very good experience. School days were very long with Tuesdays starting at 8am and finishing at 7pm. It was a lot of fun and I made many new friends. Over the Christmas break, I went to visit the grandparents in Carcassonne which is in the South of France then went skiing in Spain for a few days. Overall, I had an amazing time in France and I really recommend it to anyone who wants to improve their French.”
Ashley (Year 11)
“In Term 4 of last year I left after my exams to spend 5 weeks living in France on exchange. I lived with a lovely, welcoming, kind family that completely brought me in as their own. They lived in a beautiful town in the north west of France in the province of Brittany. The town is called Dinan and most of its buildings are older than Australia, including my school! Monday to Friday I would go to school with my host sister Marie and her younger sister Charlotte. It would be dark and around -1°C when we left in the morning so her dad would drop us. I would go in and take around 6 classes a day. At lunch, we had an hour and a half so I would either go home for lunch, stay at school and eat or go to lunch in the village with my friends, but lunch was always a hot meal. The food was out of this world amazing!! My host father worked from home so he cooked a lot. After school I would spend some time in the village and then walk home. Marie and I had a special tradition of getting a hot chocolate at our favourite café on Wednesday afternoons because we finished at 12 every week! If I had a free period or I finished earlier than Marie and my friends, I would just pop my headphones in, sign out and go exploring around the town, look into stores, walk along the river etc. It was heaven on earth!
On the weekends, they taught me how to make lots of sweet delicacies and they would take me to the most amazing places in the area. We visited St Malo, Dinard, Le Mont-Saint Michel, Rennes and lots of other smaller local towns. The school was amazing and so welcoming and so were the students, I have made so so many amazing friends and my French really has improved. I couldn’t recommend it more highly, it was the best time of my life and I miss everyone a lot!! It was very difficult to leave and I couldn’t be more grateful to anyone that played any part in the experience.
Daisy (Year 11)
“At the end of last year, I had the incredible opportunity to go half-way across the world and embark on a French exchange through the AFX program. This meant staying in a French village with my host family, immersing myself in French life and of course going to a high school with my host sister. Although it all seemed very daunting at first to be in such an unfamiliar and foreign environment, the friendships formed and incredible experiences I had made it the most amazing month of my life. And not to mention, on top of this my French improved tremendously and made me want to continue my studies and improve my skills. I was also able to visit some of the most beautiful places in France, from Cannes, to Nice and of course Monaco. And being with a French family, I was able to see these cities from a local perspective and gain a more authentic understanding of the place and its culture, which is something I’m so grateful for. Overall, exchange was an amazing experience that I highly recommend to anyone if the opportunity presents itself.”
Jasmine Singer (Year 11)
“At the end of last year, I spent six weeks on exchange in France, living in a small rural town just north of Nantes, in the West of France. My host family consisted of the parents, and three sisters aged nine, fourteen, and seventeen. My favourite memory was on my last weekend there. One of the sisters, Camille and I went for a walk through the village to go to the boulangerie. We walked back eating a baguette as the sun was setting, through the fields and houses of her country village. It was the most beautiful landscape I’d seen.
It was a tough experience. It wasn’t always easy to communicate with people with such a divisive language barrier, and not everyone always has patience with you when you can’t speak. I was in a Spanish class, but I could never understand when they were speaking Spanish, and when they were speaking French! However, there were still so many lovely people, and it was amazing to see how such immeasurable connections could be formed in such a short period of time. My host family and I made an incredible bond, and they were the most kind, generous, welcoming people I’ve ever met.”
Maddy (Year 11)
Fostering global awareness and having an opportunity to put their learning into context was an amazing experience for our students.
Merci à tous!