French exchange students discuss their experience in California so far

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Here at San Lorenzo Valley High School, we have a proud history of hosting exchange students. This year we are hosting two students from France, and they are staying with Salem Maness for the entire year. They will be graduating and walking with the class of 2016, and we are excited to see what they do with their time here at SLV.


Q: What is your name and age?

A: Louis: My name is Louis and I am 17.

Joan: My name is Joan and I am 18.


Q: What is the largest difference between France and America?

A: It is not that different, but the biggest difference is that people are more friendly here.


Q: How long are you going to be living here for?

A: We will stay here for the school year, so until June.


Q: How do you like your host family? Who are you living with?

A: We are living with the Maness family. We find that we are very lucky to be with them, they are awesome. They make us [do] a lot of things to discover their life and their country. And they help us to make our life easier.


Q: Is this your first time in America? Where else have you traveled in the United States? A:  Yes it’s our first time in America. So we haven’t traveled anywhere else, but we plan to go to New York and New Orleans, and Kansas maybe.


Q: What is your favorite food in America?

A :We think that our prefered food are the burgers from Betty’s Burger!


Q: Has it been easy to make friends and connections here at San Lorenzo Valley High?

A: It was hard in the beginning because we have to speak in a language which is not our first [language], and we always change classes (in France we keep the same people in every class) and so it’s harder to [get to] know people! But everybody is friendly.


Q: Do you play any sports here at SLV?

A: Louis: I’m playing water-polo but that’s really hard for me but cool, and I plan to play soccer.

Joan: I’m doing cross-country but that’s not that fun (only running), I would like to maybe try baseball in spring!


Q: Are you a part of any clubs or organizations here at SLV?

A: We’re in the “club of nice people” or something like that, where you’re supposed to teach people how to be nice.


Q: What do you like to do on your freetime?

A: We love to skateboard at night in Santa-Cruz, and Ben Lomond. We often like to go in our hot tub and for sure we love to go to parties or just hang out with friends.


Q: Did you come to the homecoming dance? If so, how did you like it? How was it different from the dances you have attended in France?

A: Yes we came [to the dance], and in France we don’t have any dances like that from our high school or whatever. We just [attend] stuff like that during parties organized by friends! It was cool, but sometimes [it was] awkward.


Q: What has been your strangest/funniest experience in America?

A: Joan: We were skateboarding one night in Ben Lomond (on the road) and a guy came and wanted to steal our skateboards; he [tried to] several times and he was apparently drunk. He was getting mad at us for nothing!

Louis: During [the] summer I [shot] in a shooting range and it was really amazing, I felt really powerful after that, and that is something that we can’t do in France!


Q: Do you ever get homesick? How often do you talk to your family?

A: Joan : Yes I can be totally homesick sometimes, [but my] friends and family are really missing me.

Louis: For the moment I don’t feel homesick because [I have known for a] long time that I will be here, so I was prepared. We call our family each sunday on Skype and we talk sometimes during week also.


Q:  How are the academics different at your school in France compared to here at SLV? Are your classes here hard or easy?

A: At high school in France, we have to choose between 3 [subjects]; a scientific one, an economic one and a literary one. We both did the economic [subject], so we had classes like economy, history, geography, etc. We have approximately 30 hours of class during a week. The biggest difference is that we do more theory. It is much more challenging than here. At the end of high school we have a final exam for one week and we have to get half of the points to graduate. Another difference is that we are not allowed to use our phone, to drink, to eat and to stand up during the class. Thus it’s totally different.


Q: Where in France do you live?

A: We live in the North East of France, close to the border with Germany and Luxemburg.


Q: What program did you travel here with? Do you like it?

A: We travel with the SAI program and it’s cool because it’s a very small program so our coordinator has time to help us a lot, so it’s easier. We also know all the other exchange students from the program and we are friend with some of them so that’s cool.


Q: How has your overall experience been as an exchange student so far? Has it been pleasant?

Joan: I had to change my host family two weeks after we came because the first one wasn’t okay, that’s why I’m with Louis now. But after that it’s cool so far.

Louis: For me, it’s really pleasant because I met a lot of people, and I discovered and will discover a lot of new things so that’s exciting. I am also more independent now so it’s really good, even if sometimes it is hard. In general, it’s very cool and exciting.


Q: Are you planning on going to school in France? If so, where would you like to go? What would you like to study?

A:  Louis: I am planning to continue my study in France in the city of Strasbourg, I would like to integrate to an economic school and then go again in a foreign country to continue my studies.

Joan: I don’t know for the moment, and that is partly why I am here. I’d like to go to Metz, but my family is moving to Bordeaux (totally in an opposite place in France) in December, so I have no clue where I will be!

By Alissa Saylor

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