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The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

French Exchange takes students across Atlantic

French-studying students took a trip to France, visiting many key places such as Angers and Paris and immersed themselves in the culture and environment.

After French-studying students successfully hosted their counterparts in October, it was finally time to go to France.

The first week of the French Exchange took place in Angers, France where the correspondents attended Lycée Chevrollier. In Angers, students stayed with their host families while they attended school and participated in local excursions. The hope was for the students to become familiar with a smaller city.

Senior Martin Ducroux said that being in Angers was his favorite part of the Exchange because he was able to immerse himself in French culture.

“In Angers, we really got to experience what it was like to live with our host families and really live in the moment, at the school, and explore the city. Being with the host family was really special because it wasn’t like the rest of the trip because we really assimilated ourselves into being a part of French life,” Ducroux said.

Lycée Chevrollier begins at a similar time as BHS but ends at varying times, typically around 5:30 p.m. However, students at Chevrollier get closer to one hour of homework a night.

Senior Marina Panitz attended the Exchange and said that, like her, the students in Angers like to hang out in the city center with friends, get food and walk around after school.

“In Angers, I would wake up around 6:50 a.m. to leave the house at 7:50 to be at the school around 8:05. We would take the tram for one stop and walk a bit,” Panitz said. “For two of the days, we spent half the day attending classes and then we’d leave to either explore Angers or another city. For the rest of the week, we were in Angers; we’d meet up at the school and then leave as a group.”

Kimball said this trip was a great opportunity for students to see life in France after learning about it inside the classroom.

“I think it’s interesting for students to see what the educational system in France is like, comparing teachers and students and even the cafeteria food, which is a lot better in France,” Kimball said.

Ducroux said he was able to witness a lot of differences at Lycée Chevrollier, but that most of the differences were for the better.

“I thought the biggest difference was that when you get into class, everyone has to stand up until the teacher says you are allowed to sit down,” Ducroux said. “My favorite difference was that the lunch was just amazing. It was just a different ambiance when you ate with everyone.”

The rest of the trip was spent in Normandy for three days and Paris for another three days. The goal for this part of the exchange was for the students to visit the major sites in France. This included visiting museums, castles and even an aquarium. Kimball said that students were able to learn about the sites’ significance in French culture, how they were built and the history behind them.

“In Normandy, we did what I call coach bus tourism: sightseeing on the bus, off the bus, 30 minutes here, an hour there,” Kimball said. “Then in Paris, the goal is to see all the major tourist sights like the Musée d’Orsay, the Musée du Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. Though [the Eiffel Tower] was closed for strikes and we couldn’t go up, we got to see all the different views.”

Ducroux said among the things he learned on his trip, the architecture that went behind each building and its role in history was a highlight.

“We got to learn about what’s really behind the castles: the politics behind how they were made, the kings, the lords, whoever it belonged to,” Ducroux said. “One day we went to an aquarium where we got to go into this huge submarine, which is one of the biggest submarines you can enter in the world. And we saw missiles! We saw the coolest stuff.”

Panitz said she enjoyed the rest of the trip because she was able to visit new places and have time to wander around with her friends.

“For the rest of the trip, we’d visit someplace new every day and we’d always have between one and two hours of free time to explore the place we were at or shop,” Panitz said.

This is the first time the trip has happened since the pandemic, and Kimball said it went great.

“I thought that the group dynamic we had was a really cohesive group. I thought that everyone could get along well with each other. Regarding the pandemic, I don’t think much has changed. It was a very similar trip to what we had done in 2018 and 2020,” Kimball said.

Ducroux also said the dynamic of the group was great and made it the highlight of his experience.

“The highlight of the trip was 100 percent the group that went. I mean, these kids are people that I don’t think I could ever see myself meeting or hanging out with at BHS, with the way things are set up and the way you connect with others,” Ducroux said. “The highlight of the trip was really the people that I got to know and become friends with because it was a blast to get to know these people and discover these new things.”

Panitz said the trip was a great opportunity for her to build new friendships and learn things she would not have learned in French class.

“I got to learn a lot of French slang that I didn’t know before, which was fun,” Panitz said. “Honestly the biggest highlight for me were the people that I met on the trip and the friendships that I made, both with the other kids from BHS, the French kids from Chevrolier and random strangers we met while there.”

Ducroux recommends anyone and everyone to go on this trip.

“Go on the French Exchange. It is a good decision that you’ll make. You’ll meet so many new people and you’ll learn so much, and you’ll really just experience something new in a different light,” Ducroux said.

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