Michelle S., 17 years old, a young German girl originally from Wilthen (70km from Dresden in the east of Germany) looks back on her first weeks spent in France.
She lived with a host family who lives in Cluses in the Savoie region near the Swiss border.
She has two host sisters and three host brothers although only two are still at home. She had been learning French for 5 years when she decided to go to school in France.
Her objective was to discover French culture and become bilingual in French. She participated in the ‘question and answer’ game for SILC.
-Interview carried out on the 2nd of October, 2017-
SILC | Hello Michelle, can you tell us how you prepared for your stay before your arrival?
I did prepare for my trip a little. I watched videos and read the reports of other students’ experiences, particularly of those who went to the USA as there are fewer testimonials by students who went to France. I sent some e-mails to my host family and 10 days before my departure I « met » my host family on Skype.
SILC | What happened when you arrived in France?
First we stayed with a host family near Paris and it was very good. I met the other students who also intended to go to school for a year in France.*
It was great because we were able to discuss our experiences, our home countries,…
And then the day out visiting Paris was fantastic: we visited so many tourist sites. I loved it!
Arriving with my host family in the Savoie was also great. It was my host father and host sister who came to collect me at the station. They are really nice, and I am so pleased to be with this family. We get on really well and on weekends we do things together, for example, we go for walks because the area is so pretty!
* SILC organises every year an orientation stay in Paris for all the students who come for an academic year
SILC | How is it going at the Lycée?
I joined a class in the 1st year ‘Economics and Social’ stream and it’s still a bit difficult to follow lessons because I don’t understand everything. It’s only in English, German and Mathematics that I manage to follow everything. Of course, in the beginning that’s quite normal and the marks do not count for me for the moment. Relationships with the other students in the class are going well and when talking with them I understand everything. I cannot say that they’ve all become my friends but all of the students are really nice, and I chat a lot with some of the girls and they help me when I have a problem.
SILC | What about your French, how are you feeling?
At school the teachers speak very quickly and it’s difficult to understand new things in French. But after a few weeks I am now speaking much more with the other students than I did at the beginning. At home it’s fine because when I speak with my host family they speak more slowly. Generally, I think that I am more at ease writing rather than speaking because when I write something I have more time to think.
SILC | And finally, have you noticed any significant differences between France and your home country?
Yes, many things are different, for example, the timetable. Twice a week in France I finish lessons at 18:00, and there are lots of free periods between lessons. That is why I don’t have more lessons than in Germany. At lunchtime we have one hour to eat and that’s a lot, and also we eat lots of different things in France. I like it a lot because at the Lycée we can choose between several things at the self-service restaurant. In the evening we eat really late, always after 20:00, and the French love to stay at the table. Also I find that French people are very open and that’s why it’s easy to begin a conversation.
A big ‘thank you’ to Michelle for this first interview.
Do you want to read the rest of Michelle’s adventures in France?