2022-23 Allie, outbound to France

Oct 24, 2022

I can’t believe that I’ve been in France for two months! The first week felt like three and the past week felt like a day. I live in a small town called Beaune and I go to the local private school Saint Coeur. Beaune is a very small, beautiful town. I have many breaks during my
school day, which starts at eight and ends at six. So, I go out on the town and walk around. My favorite thing to do is go to my favorite bakery with my best friend, Cecilia, buy our favorite pastries and find a place to sit and talk. Cecilia is another exchange student, from Madrid, Spain. She goes to the same high school as me, but she’s in premiere (junior year) and I’m in terminale (senior year). She’s my best friend and the reason my exchange has gone as well as it has. We also like to go to the beautiful market that My town has every Saturday morning. During the first three days of my exchange, I attended a camp with twenty other exchange students. They are very nice and it was great to be able to connect with them because they are great to reach out to when I need advice for exchange.

Everyone at my school is very nice to me. There are about fifty people in my class, it’s difficult because they’ve all gone to school with each other since they were seven, so they are all very close to each other. I know it will take time, but I’m sure that I will make close friends with the people here. Everyone here is super dedicated towards school, I don’t know how I complained in the US. I know many of my friends take classes outside of school as well. Everyone in my class was very excited that I am an American and they had many questions for me. There’s a boy from my class who lived in Atlanta for ten years. It’s funny to think about the coincidences that happen in our life. In fact, I think French people get a bad reputation because they are some of the kindest and most open people I have met. I am extremely grateful for the people who have invited me to do things and showed me Beaune. On the second day of school, my friends took me to their favorite bakery and showed me around during one of our breaks. Another friend invited me to her house for the day and her family was very nice and gave me a specialty ham from the region of Bourgogne, which is where I’m staying. She also took me to a vineyard nearby her house, which was very interesting and pretty.

On my first day, my English teacher asked me, “Have you ever shot a gun?” I was very shocked, but I soon figured out that French people are much more upfront than Americans. In English class, the teacher discusses America’s political state and she expresses her opinion. This is strange for me because it’s not allowed for teachers to express their political ideology in class. I have taken tests in all of my classes, which are very difficult. French tests are always written; usually, there’s one question and you have to write five pages based on that one question or prompt. My first test was in Philosophy and I wrote half a page of an analysis of a text. It was very difficult, but I got a ten, which is a good grade for the work I did. In France, you are graded on a scale of twenty, but ten is a passing grade. In fact, some of my friends got lower grades than me, but my teacher was just being nice to me. In the last test that I took in one of my history classes, I was able to write pages in french, which is a very good improvement. I can’t wait to find out my grade!

While everything has been pretty great, I have had some struggles with my host family. This means that I haven’t connected with my host siblings or parents, which makes me feel isolated at home. This has made my homesickness so much worse and being home is not a safe space for me as it usually is. I think I am dealing with it okay. I have had to deal with a lot of confrontations in my two months of living in France, which I think is good for me as confrontation is one of my biggest personal struggles. I cried in my bedroom a lot, but I am grateful to my friends for being a great support system for me during the first month. I even had to go to the hospital, because I accidentally ate nuts and I am very allergic, but I am okay now. That’s the worst thing about leaving home! You mom can’t take care of you when you are sick. I miss my parents and sister a lot, but I know this step is inevitable and I think I have handled it pretty well. My family back home has already mentioned that they can see I am in a happier place and am more confident in myself. I am definitely maturing as I have made many mistakes along the way, but the only thing I can do is have faith in myself that things will only get better from now on. I didn’t think that I would miss cheese-processed snacks this much!

As for language, I can tell that I am progressing within these first couple of months. I am understanding a lot more, but it’s definitely very difficult to communicate with my friends and host family. The pressure I feel is hard, but I keep reminding myself that I just need to try every day and I will get better. Luckily, a lot of my social media has turned into french so I can keep practicing even when I’m on my phone! My friends have told me recently that they can tell my french is getting better. They are very kind because when they speak with me they are slow and don’t mind repeating themselves. They also help me with my homework, whenever I am confused. Overall, I Think My first two months have been a pretty great start and I am grateful to everyone who has helped me along the way. This time has been unforgettable! 🙂