French Exchange Trip - Student Report
Participating in the French exchange was probably one of the most exciting challenges I have ever undertaken. Spending a week fully immersed in an entirely different culture, speaking only a foreign language and eating strange food seemed like an incredibly daunting experience before we left but it was certainly worth it. The nerves I felt before my name was called to meet my partner for the first time felt almost consuming. I was convinced that this had been a bad idea, that I should never have boarded the plane to Toulouse Blagnac. However, by the time I had reached my partner's house, I felt completely at ease. Emma, my exchangee, was extremely welcoming and her entire family were very hospitable. On the first night, when separated from the rest of the group and anything English, I didn't feel nervous; in fact, I was simply excited for the next day. During the weekend I visited Cité de l'Espace- a space museum in Toulouse, went bowling with my French family, visited the Garonne and even cycled through violet fields! It was incredibly fun and I feel as though my French improved a lot even in the casual atmosphere.
When Monday arrived, I was glad to re-join with my friends to share stories of our weekends before setting off to visit the city centre. We toured the city and the Capitole, historically the most important building in Toulouse, (with our guide speaking only French!) and then had some free time to explore. The shops were definitely a highlight!
The Airbus company is also very important to Toulouse's economy and the city in general so we knew that our visit to the factory would help us understand the area more. The factory was huge and during our tour we were able to view the construction of three double-decker planes, the Airbus A380's. Watching the construction from afar and then learning about the process was very interesting but our favourite plane was a large, rounded carrier plane. It was named Beluga after the whale!
Toulouse is situated very close to the Pyrénées and therefore we spent Wednesday trekking up a mountain with our échanges. The walk was fairly arduous but the view at the end was beautiful with the snow-capped mountains sparkling in the distance making the effort worth it. At the top, we played games and ate lunch before descending and visiting the pretty town of Foix. My exchangee and I ate our ice creams in the sun before returning home very worn out from the action filled day.
Although the entire trip was very exciting, my personal highlight was our trip to Carcassonne, a medieval fortress turned town. I found the different eras of architecture and the legend behind the town's name very interesting. We also performed a play based on this story and the interpretations were also... interesting. Overall, it was a really pleasant day.
On Friday, the mood of the group was mixed. We were filled with excitement at the prospect of seeing our families again but had to say goodbye to our exchanges. I was therefore pleased that I would have the opportunity to spend some final time with Emma through observing her lessons. I sat through maths and French, trying to understand the lessons. This proved quite difficult but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
I am extremely glad I took the chance to be a part of the French exchange because I believe it has given me extremely valuable skills and I also had a really brilliant time. I am now also really looking forward to seeing our exchanges again when they visit us in May. We went to so many different places and our week was full of exciting experiences that I would love to relive again.
Zoë Webster – Year 10