The French Exchange


Brianna Yang For two fun-filled weeks, fourteen Latin students and fourteen École Alsacienne students were able to meet and bond and form friendships with kids that they’d normally never meet. In fact, Isabella Norris interrupted my hurried interview with her exchange student, Louise, to instruct her to say, “Isabella is like my sister now.” It seemed like Louise was headed towards saying that anyways. Amid the hustle and bustle of the farewell Ice Cream Social, several French students and Latin students were able to sit down with me and answer some questions about their experience with this year’s French Exchange. “Please, Margaux, I have an interview,” said Marie Calvet to her friend as she sat down with me. Sarcastic and witty, Marie joked that the difference between American and French kids was that American kids could throw longer parties because the police were more incompetent. When her friends saw that she was being interviewed, they all ran over to witness her big moment. In between the rapid French, most of which I happened to understand, I asked all of them what they were planning to do with the Latin students in Paris. Talking over one another, they seemed to be mentioning hanging out, eating food, and visiting Paris at night. Marie mentioned that she was planning to take Sophomore Leah Peluchiwski to see Stanley, her horse. I also asked all the French kids what they thought about the difference between American and French schools. Two French students, Iris and Hoa, had a lot to say about that. “Imagine jail—that’s our school. Now imagine freedom—that’s your school, “ observed Iris. They commented that they had larger class sizes, stricter classroom rules (they couldn’t leave class at all), and that school ended later for them (sometimes people finish at 7 or 8 pm). They are also required to take two languages, but that they had more language options like Ancient Greek, Russian, and Italian. Another student, Paul, said that phones weren’t allowed in class, so “the school is not giving us every way to use everything we can.” Hosting a French student has allowed the Latin students to see Chicago from a different perspective. “It’s not weird to see Lake Michigan or the Sears Tower or all these super tall buildings, but it is strange for them,” said Leah Peluchiwski. She added that when you have an exchange student in the home, “Sometimes you have to explain things that seem normal for your family to do, or there’s a lot of scheduling things—it’s very busy—but you have to remember that you have someone else who’s tagging along.” When asked about the difference between French and American kids, most Latin students commented that there wasn’t that big of a difference. Sophomore Daera Thomas observed that one difference is the closeness of the French students; they seemed to be “friends no matter what.” In three weeks, the Latin students will be traveling to Paris and will spend two weeks exploring Paris with their exchange students. Daera expressed her excitement for the shopping, culture and the food, and she said that she’s looking forward to traveling outside of the US for the first time. Leah commented that she was excited to spend more time with Marie and the other students and see Paris from a native’s point of view.  ]]>