Study Abroad 101, Travel

What I've learned the first week in FRANCE

The day before I left for my exchange I had a little accident with water and my laptop, but for the record it was NOT my fault! Anyway its been a little over a week since I have arrived and wanted to share my experience so far with you.

Well I guess I could give you the “before I arrived” stuff first. To start, I woke up at around 6am with my mom to go pick my friend up and head to the MKE airport for my plane to New York.  Then, of course, I got on the plane and arrived in New York.  After I got off the plane I had to get my luggage and being me I couldn’t find the AFS volunteer that  was suppose to meet me at baggage claim. Little did I know I was at the wrong airline baggage claim where I was suppose to meet them. A car ride later, a group of us went inside the hotel, where we would be staying for about 3 nights. Let me tell you orientation was pretty boring. It was alot of listening to presentations, eating,  and sleeping. The fun part was meeting everyone going to different places. We had 43 kids from the US going to France. On Thursday all the americans going to france took multiple buses to the airport where we waited for 3 hours for the plane. The plane ride was very very very long (5hrs). It didn’t seem long to me before I got on the plane, but after you’re sitting for 3 hrs the rest gets super boring. We finally arrived in France on Friday and had yet another orientation.  The food was amazing (for my standards) and this time we got to meet a bunch of other students going to France. We got a tour of Paris the next day. I was so tired from travelling I started to fall asleep towards the end of the tour. On Sunday we parted into groups based on where we were located and headed to our train stations where we would soon meet our families for the next 5-10 months.

Now I’ve been in school for a week and wanted to recap what I’ve been up to. First off, my school starts at 8am and goes to 6pm (most of the time). For Wednesday thought I have a half day and for other days I may get out early because I do not have class. Another quick thing is that when you don’t have class you can walk into town and go shopping or grab a drink at a cafe (I do that on Fridays). It’s been very hard to adjust because I have to focus extra hard in class to understand and that makes my head hurt, but the good thing is I can block out the teachers whenever because I dont understand anything at all. So far this is what I’ve noticed since being here…

1. The students (and teachers) smoke.

Before, after, and  during break students and teachers can go outside in front of the school and smoke. There are a lot of people too.

2. No cold luches at all.

At my old highschool it was always split half and half of cold lunches and hot lunches.  In france there is not a single student with cold lunch.

3. Some teachers don’t care that you’re a foregin exchange student and don’t know the langauge.

Some of my teachers (not most) don’t care that I barely know French so, they talk super fast to the point I just forget to try because it is impossible to try and figure out what they are saying.

4. Just smile and nod.

You have to get used to the fact you won’t understand 100% what people are saying and when worst comes to worst just smile and say “OUI!” because that’s what being a foregin exchange student is all about.

5. Lots of PDA.

All couples in school are super touchy and kiss ALL the time so be prepared.

6. Fashion is not everything.

Though Europe is known to have exceptionally well taste in style, at my school it’s a mix of everything. People that don’t care and people that do. *But everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, wears jeans and not leggings.

7. The bathrooms are even different!?!?

In france you have a room with the shower/tub and the sink and then a room  off to the side just for the toilet. at my house the showers are different too because you don’t have a showerhead attached to the wall; instead, the showerhead is attached to a long wire that you maneuver around your body.

8. Dinner starts late.

I usually come home from school around 6 and dont end up eating until 8 and than that is a full course meal that lasts about a hour. Did I mention dessert every night ;)!

9. Didn’t wash it?  It doesn’t matter.

Lately I’ve been seen in many people wearing the same outfit more than once…and I dont mean on a different week. I mean they will wear it monday and then on tuesday they wear the EXACT same outfit! Not only students but teachers too.
Hope that this gave you a little insight to what I have been though the past couple of days and helped you get a feel for what a french school and french life may be like. I’ll try as hard as I can to write again very soon but, it takes awhile and I’m still adjusting here.

xoxo Cat

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