Sydney’s French Adventure
November 22, 2011 • Abbie Isaac, Student Life Editor
Filed under Student Life
Sydney Stansfield really wanted to go with Mr. Rigby on the annual European Trip. Who wouldn’t? But, like most of us, money was a problem and she wasn’t able to go. From then on, she was interested in Europe.
“I was really intrigued by all the really old buildings and museums, etc.,” Sydney says.
Then she met an exchange student from Belgium attending Bountiful High, they began to be good friends, and he gave her some information how to get started in a foreign exchange program. She also had a friend who was an exchange student in Italy.
“Talk to Mrs. Cleverly in the Career Center!” She says to those who would like to be in a program, “She helped me get started and there are a lot of different programs you can choose from.” She was able to find a program that suited her, and off she went to Lille, France.
She went to France only knowing one phrase, “Je ne comprends pas” which means “I don’t understand”. What she misses most about being in the U.S. is being able to understand everything people say. “My brain has to work double time her because I have to think of the things said, and switch them to English or vice-versa. Sometimes, I will come across somebody speaking English in the town, and I will get really excited.”
But, her favorite part of the experience has been her own growth in the French language. “I find myself understanding without switching all the words in my head to English. It’s seriously an awesome feeling.” Now, “… I will do anything not to say [Je ne comprends pas].”
She also wrote, “I’m sorry I sound totally unprofessional, I seriously don’t know if any of this makes sense because I’m forgetting English.”
There were other things that were hard to adjust to. One of the hardest things for Sydney, was the dinner schedule. Families in France have dinner together every day, pretty late. “In my family, we eat dinner at about 8:30.” And because of this, “Nobody hangs out on weekends past 7 or 8.”
“School is 99% different than school here in Utah,” Sydney says. She really misses American school, “I mean, it’s not that bad…”. Some days she has school until 6 PM. All of her classes are an hour long, much like ours, and there are lots of them: “I have about 4 different science classes, math, French, English (the entire class speaks English), Italian, a French class for foreigners, History, Economics, Geography, PE, and a science class in English.”
And she loves the food. “There’s about a million little pastry shops here and everything is sooo good. I feel like I’ve gained like a hundred pounds.”
She also says that it’s weird to see people her age smoking. In France, there isn’t an age limit on tobacco. Between classes, a majority of her class mates can be seen in the front of the school smoking.
But there are some things in France that she was used to already, like the cold. “But, there’s no snow so that makes it a little better than Utah.”
In movies, French are portrayed as snooty people who hate Americans and they kiss each other on the cheek. One of these is true. “I was so scared that I would accidentally kiss someone on the mouth or something,” Sydney says. Now, she is totally comfortable greeting people by kissing them on the cheek.
And, “Everyone told me that French people hate Americans before I got here, but its really not like that at all. A lot of French people really like Americans and they all really want to go to America. They think about the USA the same way we think of Europe, I think. Everything just looks so much more glamorous on the other side.”
She is very much enjoying her French adventure and recommends foreign exchange to anyone. She has some parting advice for those who are contemplating a foreign exchange program, “DO IT. And if you do it, learn as much of the language as you can before you get there”.
You can go on your own adventure, just like Sydney! Talk to Mrs. Cleverly in the Career Center for more information!