Students immerse in French culture for school trip


Stephanie Chen

Taylor Canitz (’19) and Amy Keane (’19) look out over a view of the Mediterranean Sea while on a boat ride in Cassis. This marked the second of three consecutive beach days after the family stay, the first being at the Pont du Gard. The students enjoyed fourty-five minutes out at sea. Those brave enough to sit at the rail were sprayed with cold, Mediterranean water during the rockier portions of the ride.

Wheels roll against cobblestone as students drag their luggage down the streets of Paris, ready to begin their two week stay in France. Among this group are fourteen BC girls. Some, like Sukna Sawah (‘19), are looking forward to the “best two weeks ever.” Others, like Libby Gantz (‘20), are expecting an experience of a whole different culture with their first international trip.

The biennial trip to France is designed to immerse students in French culture and give them the opportunity to interact with the local people to improve their French speaking skills. The trip consisted of eight days touring the major cities of France: Paris, Versailles, Nice, and Nimes.

Also, each student was given the opportunity to stay with a host family in villages in the south of France near Aix-en-Provence for six days. Students are paired with families based on information submitted prior to the trip, including their likes and hobbies. The students are paired with a family that has a child of the same gender and age.

The trip started off in Paris and the students were on the go from the moment they got off the plane. The students visited many popular tourist sites in Paris such as the Eiffel Tower, Towers of Notre Dame, the Louvre, and the Arc de Triomphe.

After five days in Paris, the students traveled to the south of France for the family stay portion of the trip. The students were encouraged to maintain contact with their host families leading into the trip to allow for some familiarity going into the stay; however, the family stay still came with some apprehension.

“I was honestly very nervous for the family stay. When I went to France, I was only in French 2, and [it] was difficult [for me to converse in French],” said Gantz. Amy Keane (‘19) echoed the sentiment. “I had been in contact with my host girl quite a bit, but she had never said anything to me in English, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.”

For Keane, as with others, it was difficult to settle in at first, but as the days went on, the students became more comfortable around their host families and eventually became good friends with them. “By the end of the family stay it was hard to say goodbye; in fact, my host mom cried at my last dinner with them since I was leaving the next morning,” claimed Keane.

Many of the students felt that the French families were very kind and took a lot of effort to show the American students as many places around Marseilles and Aix-en-Provence as they could in the short time frame. Sukna Sawah claimed that “My family stay was so fun it was probably my favorite part of the trip. My family was super nice and tried showing me everything that they could in the five days we had.” Ultimately, most of the students felt that the family stay really helped them improve their French speaking skills and helped them learn about French culture.

After the family stay, the students traveled to Nimes and visited the ancient Roman aqueduct, Pont du Gard. They were able to go cliff jumping and swimming in the Gardon River underneath the Pont du Gard. The students spent their final days in Nice where the students spent time relaxing by swimming in the Mediterranean and shopping in the boutiques.

Every trip has a funny memory or story associated with it. On one of the last group dinners, all the students were encouraged to order their meal in French. For her dessert, sophomore Libby Gantz ordered a panna cotta which was something she wanted to try while she was in France. When the dessert arrived, Gantz was very confused because she received a tall glass with a straw in it instead of a spoon. One of the chaperones quickly pointed out that Gantz had received a pina colada instead of a panna cotta! “The whole table erupted in laughter, that confusion turned into embarrassment because I had no idea what to do,” said Gantz.

Overall, all the students had a really enjoyable trip. “It is a once in a lifetime experience. Even though it might be nerve-racking, the experience is totally worth it,” said Elizabeth Tan (‘19). Even though being in a foreign country and not completely knowing the language or culture might be difficult, the whole experience is truly unforgettable and like no other.