Posts Tagged ‘France’


Dear future self…

AFS-USA student, Natalie, with Speedwell Foundation founders, Jenny and Mike Messner, at the annual Speedwell Picnic.


Natalie is a US high school student who will study abroad in France with AFS during the coming academic year. She is also a Speedwell scholarship recipient. Here is her letter to her post-study abroad self.

“Dear Future Natalie,

As I write this letter, there are 30 days until your AFS Program begins. It has also been over a year since you decided to study abroad.

You knew in your heart that you wanted to go to France, and you were already telling people “when I go to France…” Yet, when you found out the only way to study abroad was to win a scholarship, you quit telling people about it. When you found out that 60 kids were applying, and only 30 would win, you started crying. Even though those are much better odds than college scholarships, you were afraid you dream could be ripped out from under you.

Luckily, that didn’t happen, and I will soon be boarding a plane and flying to France! I get to meet my wonderful host family, who you surely know very well.

And so, dearest future Natalie, now that you have come back from France, I’m sure you have changed in more ways that I can imagine. But here is how I hope you’ve grown:

I hope you are more independent. I know, I know, I’m already very independent. But I still need approval before making decisions. I hope you have learned not to get caught up with simple decisions.

I hope you are more spontaneous. I hope that at least once during the year you looked at a menu and picked something random – something you’ve never heard of. Maybe it was pleasant, maybe it was objectionable, but you lived.

I hope that you are fluent in French. This is my biggest hope for you. I want you to be able to speak to anyone in French without fear. You probably still make mistakes, and your French may never be perfect. But I hope you have realized that this is okay.

I hope you had an amazing time and took advantage of every opportunity while you were there. If you didn’t, I’m honestly disappointed in you. You were in France, silly!

I hope you’ve discovered an occupation where you can use your French and other skills.

I hope you know much more about the world than I do.

I hope you’ve found a way to offer sufficient thanks to Jenny and Mike Messner, who selflessly funded of the very scholarship that sent you abroad.

I hope you’ve become close to your host family and plan to keep in touch with them. So far, I adore them.

And most of all, I hope you write me back. Now that your exchange year is over, how are you feeling? Do you want to move to France? Have you made any decisions about your career or college? Please don’t forget to fill me in!

Until later,


A Chinese Proverb

*This entry was adapted from the post, “Dear Natalie,” on the AFS-USA student blog, “Frenchieville.”

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Learning How to Bake with my Host Dad

So, this weekend I helped my hostdad (who is trying to learn how to bake) make pain-au-lait.

French homework!

And sometimes, I get to hang out with some of my favorite folks here: my fellow exchange students:


In Photo: AFSer Laura Comes Home from 10 Months in France.


Learning to Cook Ratatouille with all my AFS Friends in France

This past weekend, was my last AFS weekend. All the exchange students in Languedoc met up in Meze and we had a weekend full of games, cooking, talking, and more. I have grown so close with the others and I truly am going to be so sad to leave them in Paris on July 8th. The five of us in Montpellier, Aron, Tonya, Macarana, Iveta, and myself, try to do things together as often as we can, but for the other 5, it is hard to see them. Regardless, I have grown extremely close to all my friends and I am honestly glad to have known them.


Advice from a Year in France: “Don’t Waste a Second”

I have mere weeks left in France. Not so long ago, it was that I would still be here for months to come, now in just a few weeks, I will be gone. Weird. I figured quite recently, that I have spent my whole life up until this point searching for the purple grass, only to discover that it had been underneath my feet the entire time. But now it is thousands of miles away, because I thought I had to go far in search of it, and maybe I did, because if I had not, I never would have realized it had been there the entire time. If you do not get the reference, you have not read the right books. “Dreams are fulfilled where the purple grass grows.”




10 Ways School in France is Different than in the U.S.

(Photo: My host mom and I having lunch.)


1. There is no particular room for a teacher.
At my high school, each teacher has their own room with their desk and computers etc. etc. Here, almost every class is in a different building, let alone room, each day…we are constantly in contact with our friends to see if a teacher has said anything about where we are to be.


2. Everyone in your class is in all our your classes.
That being said, it is hard to know a lot of people outside of your class, which I really hate!


3. Every class has a different schedule.
At Foothill, almost all students start at 8, with the exception of 0 period, and end after 6th period or sport. But here, some kids start at 8 while others start at 1pm.

4. Homework/tests are much different.
Homework is optional and almost never collected. Tests and quizzes are never multiple choice, or even have a single answer. My last history test was just two blank pages with a question at the top of the first saying, “Write down everything you know about the totalitarianism governments in the 20th century.”


5. Lunch is never brought from home.
Everyday, everyone either walks into town and eats at a cafe or restaurant, or eats in the Cantine. The cantine at my school is not very popular though, because nobody likes the food.




Amanda in France: How to Cook Frog

I have been enjoying my April vacation, and I can’t believe the first week is already over! The Monday after Easter, I relaxed with my family and had a very nice afternoon. First, Emma and I walked to the local bakery and I FINALLY took some pictures of Lattes! For lunch, Nathalie taught me how to make frogs. They are surprisingly easy to prepare, and taste super, super good!!




Raclette, My Favorite Food in France

Remember a few weeks ago when I talked about how Sunday lunch was a big deal and was full family time? How Sunday lunch meant a multiple course meal eaten in the dining room? Well, it is so true in my current host family. This Sunday, we had raclette, which may well be my new favorite food. It is so great.




Ken’s Winter Break in Paris (Be Jealous.)

Hello everyone! I hope you’ve all had an amazing Christmas, and Happy New Year! I had an exciting two weeks of winter vacation this year in France, starting a week or so before Christmas and ending just after the New Year. It includes trips to Paris, a ski trip to Western Europe, and relaxing in Etampes with my host family. Read more.

  • Learn More about the 2012 France High School Programs. Full Application Deadline: March 15, 2012.
  • Read More Student Blog Posts from France.



Lycee in France vs. U.S. High School


I’ve been in France for over two weeks now, so I think it’s about time to update.
I started school two weeks ago on Tuesday, and have since then obviously noticed many differences between school here and school back in West Bend. Because I don’t want to bore you to death with writing forever, I’ll condense them down into four main topics:

  1. Time/Schedules
  2. Open Campus
  3. The Shelf (Cafeteria)
  4. The Students Themselves

Read about Elise’s thoughts on attending school in France.