À la France

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French trip students pose in front of the Louvre.

Simran Dhaliwal, Assistant Editor-in-Chief

This past June, 14 BC students went on the France Trip with Madame Mann. The trip itinerary included five days in Paris, five days with a host family, one day in Nîmes, and the last two days in Nice. This was the first trip to France since the Covid-19 Pandemic.

On the morning of June 16th, the fourteen excited students gathered at the front entrance of BC with their suitcases and backpacks ready for an adventure. The students packed their luggage on the back of a school bus as they headed toward O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. They had a few-hour layover in Amsterdam before heading on another flight to Paris. As the students left the airport, they sat down on a bus that would take them to the Catacombs, their first stop in Paris. 

Their first five days in Paris went by in a flash, they visited many monuments, historical sites, museums, and shopping districts. Some places included: the Arc De Triomphe, a guided boat tour around the two islands of Paris, the Louvre, Musée D’Orsay, Champs Élysées,  Chateau de Versailles, the Samaritaine, and the Eiffel Tower to name a few. One of the most memorable moments during the students’ stay in Paris was when lightning struck the Eiffel tower while they were on the top. One of the students on the trip, Josh Wasielewski (‘24), shared his experience. He recieved a ticket from the metro police after entering the metro, “It was enlightening. One of my friends was taking a video of the situation but the police officers made her delete it. It made me realize the difference in culture between the US and other countries.

After spending a few days in Paris The students took the TJV, a high-speed train, from Paris to Toulon, a city in the south of France. There, each student was greeted by their host family, with whom they would be staying with for the next five days. Before leaving for France the students were in contact with their host family in preparation for their arrival. The students really enjoyed their stay with their host family. Many students cried when they had to leave.

Alex Emaci (‘23) said, “My stay with the host family was an incredible experience and I would do it all again if I could.” Emaci also shared how the trip allowed her to discover more about herself and France during this trip, stating, “even if you aren’t with your “best friends” it’s such an amazing trip, in a way, there is some self-discovery and just walking the streets in France by yourself is so fun to do. Not to mention the friends you can make along the way that you didn’t think would happen.”

Some Students were very worried about the language barrier, but most of the families were very kind and welcoming which helped the students feel more comfortable in a new environment. Melissa Keane (‘24) stated, “They were all very kind and considerate when it came to the language barrier between us. I really enjoyed everything we did together and all the new experiences I had in Toulon.”

After the students returned from their host family stay the group went to Nîmes where they toured Pont du Gard and saw the Roman Arena. The next day the students went to Cassis to see the Calanques on a boat tour and swim in the Mediterranean. After that, they went to Nice where the students spent the last two days of their trip exploring the city and swimming in the Mediterranean.

During their last dinner in France, the students were informed that the trip was the last trip Madame Mann would be taking with students. Madame Mann has taken 14 trips with students and more without students. Her first time visiting the country was in 1980. During this France trip, Madame Mann visited Toulon for the first time and revisited Pont du Gard and the Calanques. When asked how she feels about this being her last Trip with BC students and what she will miss, Madame stated, “I will miss getting to share the country and culture that I have come to love with my students; that is the reason I have led these trips.  I won’t miss the stress.  It’s funny, so many people see it as a vacation for me but it’s not. This trip 14 sets of parents put their trust in me to make sure that their kids would be safe in France for two weeks.  That’s a lot of responsibility. I’ve been fortunate in that nothing bad has ever happened but it has always been my fear.  But that said, what I have learned and experienced while traveling with students has enriched my life and in the balance, it has been more than worth it and I will miss it.”

Overall, the 2022 France trip was a great experience and all of the students had a great time.