This is the beginning of my fifth week in France, and everything is going smoothly. Of course there were some problems, like getting a cell phone, finding a ballet class, exchanging money, etc. Everything I have ever needed has been fixed so quickly and with ease!
Today was my first day of school at the school in Nimes. Just like at the other school, it was very busy, but easily I found my classrooms. All of my teachers are very enthusiastic in what they do and are easy to talk to. They are excited to teach me, since I am their only exchange student!
In America, I go to a very relaxed, private and progressive school, and I love it! It’s a really great environment for me and it makes learning fun. In France, public schools are way better than private schools. I could tell the moment I walked onto campus. At both schools everyone helped me and tried to speak English, although I wanted them to speak French. I’m so thankful for everyone who put up with me, since I always have a million questions.
The first couple of classes were fine, although I was alone. At lunch, I asked to sit with some girls and they were really nice. I was really quiet though. After lunch, I thought I wasn’t going to make any friends, but I spoke way too soon. Right before the last period, while we were all waiting for our class to start, everyone started talking to me at once. I made friends immediately!
After school, I walked with a new friend to the bus stop. I was so thirsty, so we walked over to a café, got some water, coca-cola and gum, and then went back to the bus stop. For me, it was a very important moment, because I had never bought anything by myself! I was so proud, and my friend thought I was crazy. Also, I wasn’t that thirsty…honestly, I just wanted to buy something.
I took the bus home, a twenty-minute bus ride, but I got off one stop early. This stop is in the middle of the small town near my house. I often take walks here. I’ve walked past the boulangerie/bakery so many times, but it’s always been closed! It was open!! I walked in, asked for a chocolate croissant, in perfect French, gave the woman exact change, and walked out of the store. I was so happy.
I literally couldn’t stop smiling on the walk home. I had had the perfect day. Tonight, a bunch of people from the school friended me on Facebook, and I even got some of their numbers. Tomorrow we have plans to meet at the front gate and go to Espagnol together! I can’t wait. This is just the beginning of my crazy adventure.
Advice for high school students studying abroad:
- Ask, ask ask! At lunch, or during a free period, ask if you can sit with someone. Eating alone is never ever fun. Sitting with someone, you can maybe meet a new friend, or just practice your French. No matter what, you will gain something good.
- Don’t be shy with teachers! The teachers are there to help you, so don’t feel scared to ask about anything. They want to tell you everything more than you know it. After each class, ask the teacher what kind of notebook you will need, what book you have to buy, what utensils you might need, etc. You don’t want to be behind!
- Universal music! If you can, bring your iPod to school. So far, every single group of girls I’ve talked to have asked me about what type of music I like. Bring your iPod, so you can show them. Also, look up the name of the genre of music you like, because when I tried to explain “Alternative” and “Indie”, no one understood!
- Keep a journal! This may seem a little crazy, but it can really help you. When you read through packets or just hear a teacher say a word you don’t know, write it down in a journal and after school, look up the meaning! It’s so helpful and you can learn so much!