Belvedere College - Student Reflection

Student Reflection

Student Reflection

by William Burke. Syntax , Scully.

I just want to start off by saying I love French.  It’s one of my favourite subjects in school and I have gone to France a few times, so when I found out that I was chosen to go on the French exchange to Lyon, I was delighted!  There were about 30 of us going, and we set off not to Lyon but to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris where we would spend the first weekend in the capital.

It was amazing; we did so much in that first weekend. First we were given a short tour around the city on the coach to get the general idea of the city and its history. During the rest of the weekend we went up the Eiffel tower, saw the Arc de Triomphe, went shopping on the Champs-Elysées and went on a bateau mouche boat trip on the river Seine.

The highlight of the weekend for me though was when we visited the neighbourhood of Montmartre because I was allowed arrange a meeting with a good friend who lived in Paris. It was great seeing him; we went around Montmartre looking at all the different street performers and artists who earn their living in the area.

When the weekend was over we left our youth hostel and took the TGV train to Lyon; everyone on board spent most of their time memorising phrases they thought/hoped would come in handy from a vocab booklet which had been given to them.

When we arrived at the train station we were taken out of our group as each correspondent’s family collected us. So at the station I met my correspondent and her mother.  They took me to their apartment which luckily was around the corner from the school I’d be going to each morning so I wouldn’t have to get up as early as some of the other students in the Belvedere group. The family members were extremely nice and I was lucky enough to have a decent amount of French so there wasn’t really any difficulty communicating with them; they did find the way I pronounced words with the letter ‘r’ in them hilarious though. Anyway I settled in fine.

One thing that I found difficult getting used to was the food; they ate a lot of salad for lunch and cheeses - which I don’t particularly enjoy - but one night the family went out to a restaurant and I tried escargots.  It’s great being able to say I went to France and tried snails: they’re actually fairly nice but I wouldn’t eat them regularly.

Every day in the first week we would meet up at the school in the morning for classes or trips. We had two classes during the week on the history and geography of Lyon. We went on trips to the Stade de Gerlande (the region’s football stadium), the Parc de la Tête d’Or, which is a huge public park with a zoo - we were even allowed go inside the giraffes’ habitat!  We also visited the historical part of Lyon (le vieux Lyon) and had a tour of an old printing press.

After the first week it was the French mid-term break, so everyone was split up to do what their host families had in mind; most people stayed in the city but I went out to the countryside with my family to their holiday home. While there I met many of their extended family - cousins, aunts and uncles - and I even attended a baptism one day. During the week it was the mother’s birthday so we were all brought to Cannes which was amazing!  I absolutely loved it, we stayed in a huge hotel and went swimming.

I returned home from the French exchange with my spoken French greatly improved and many fond memories of my time in Lyon.

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