Semester — Spring 2019
Application deadline: July 25, 2018
Semester — Fall 2018
Sep 4-7, 2018 -> Jan 27-30, 2019 Application deadline: February 22, 2018
If you’ve ever dreamed of cycling down a cobblestone street with a fresh baguette in your basket, you’re bound to feel at home in France’s quaint countryside or charming, historic cities. With its passion for food, philosophy, art, and architecture, France is an ideal place to discover a new culture and rewrite your high school experience. By going to a local high school, you’ll be totally immersed in French language and customs, and what you learn during the day will be reinforced at night when you go home to your host family and community. You’ll be much more than a tourist snapping quick photos of the Eiffel Tower; you’ll have the opportunity to eat, drink, and breathe French culture, to learn the language and get to know the people.
The French may get a bad rap for being arrogant, but really they’re just proud of their language and history. They’re generally hospitable and most will be interested in learning about you and your culture. Food is very important to the French, and you really will see locals strolling down the street with a baguette under their arms. (You’re unlikely to find many berets, though.) France is a historically Catholic country, so you’ll discover some of the most astounding churches in the world even in the smallest, most remote villages. However, in modern culture “laïcité” (secularism) is highly valued, and French students are actually banned by the government from wearing overtly religious symbols to school.
Your journey to France will begin in New York City, where you’ll meet your fellow AFSers from the US. Together you’ll attend an overnight orientation, and then travel to Paris where you’ll be met by AFS staff and volunteers. The second day after your arrival you’ll have the chance to tour Paris by bus and visit the city’s most popular sites.
Soon you’ll be ready to head to your community. Along the way you’re bound to see manicured parks full of flowers and ancient stone walls sheltering cities and small towns alike. As you travel further into your new home, you might also catch sight of the Seine as it twists through much of northern France, from the bustling streets of Paris to the breathtaking gardens where Monet painted his water-lilies.
AFSers have lived in communities all throughout France, but you’ll most likely find yourself in a rural area. You’ll get a taste of the French countryside—your host family could live anywhere from the Alps to the Mediterranean Sea—where the people tend to be friendlier and more relaxed than those in the city.
Like anywhere in the world, all families in France are different. But no matter who they are, your host family will probably greet you with a “bise,” which means a friendly kiss on the cheek. Depending on the region, you might exchange two, three, or even four kisses! Then once you’re settled into your new home, you can expect to be treated like a regular family member, helping with chores and becoming part of the daily routine.
Your French friends will probably like to spend time together in public parks or cafés, and go out to parties on the weekends. Since soccer and basketball are common hobbies for French teenagers, you might be encouraged to “jouer au foot” or “jouer au basket” with your classmates. Other popular sports include handball and cycling (this is the birthplace of the Tour de France, after all). While living in France, you’ll also be able to experience the intricate world of Francophone reality TV, which includes a popular American Idol remake entitled Nouvelle Star.
France is famous for pastries, cheese, and some more daunting delicacies like foie gras (liver paté) and escargots (snails). But no matter which dishes they’re preparing, you’ll find that the French don’t mess around when it comes to food. No matter where you go, the cuisine is delicious and prepared with care. French food is often rich and creamy, with high-quality, fresh ingredients. You’re likely to find a lot of jambon (ham), especially on sandwiches, and some delicious frites (French fries). If you like crêpes, you’ll discover that the French make them in every variety, from the savory buckwheat crêpes of Brittany to the sweet and sour crêpe au citron, which is filled with tangy lemon and sugar.
You’ll probably attend a public lycée (10th-12th grade) or collège (9th grade) depending on your age, but you could also be enrolled in a private school.. The average day’s schedule is likely longer than what you’re used to (beginning around 8:15 am and ending around 5 or 6 pm), but students get a lot of breaks between classes. Wednesdays are usually half days with classes getting out around noon. Some lycées might also have class on Saturday mornings. Quality of life and leisure time are very important in France, so you’ll generally get two weeks of vacation for every six weeks you spend in school.
"Life-changing" is hard to describe, yet it’s nearly always the first thing that AFSers say when asked about their experience abroad.
"Transformed" is another one. When you return home, if you’re like most AFSers, you’ll bring with you a sense of accomplishment unlike any other. You’ll have gained maturity and independence, discovered new passions, and feel like you can do anything you set your mind to. That transformation isn’t visible only to you, though - others see it as well. AFSers gain critical skills for college and careers, ranging from language fluency to intercultural competence and critical reasoning. "Life-changing" means it’s only the beginning.
Please Note: Travel date ranges are meant to help with general scheduling and are subject to change; please don’t book any travel based on these dates until you’ve received confirmation from AFS. All programs, prices, and travel dates are subject to change without notice.