This is what 11 students from our local high schools said as they landed in France a few weeks ago. A chaperone from Howard High School and students from Reservoir, Atholton, Long Reach and Howard high schools enjoyed some time living with host families and visiting many famous landmarks. Most of the travelers have just completed their sophomore year of high school where they took French III. Each student was matched with a French student, referred to as a correspondent, living in Columbia’s sister city of Port Cergy.
The French students and their families hosted the American students for two weeks, taking them to Paris, Normandy and Versailles. A highlight of the trip was a visit to Normandy, where they saw the American cemetery and walked out to Mont St. Michel and the Abbey. They also took several day trips into Paris where they saw the Etoile quarter in Paris, the Arc of Triomphe, the Champs Elysees and the Louvre pyramid. Everyone enjoyed a boat tour on the Seine and visits to Notre Dame Cathedral, Trocadero gardens, Eiffel Tower and the Palace of Versailles.
During the days when group activities were not planned, the students spent time with their host families, enjoying French food and culture. Lucy Buda, a Reservoir high school student, enjoyed a visit to Reims in the Champagne region of France where she visited a champagne winery. Another special visit included the Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Reims.
According to Buda, the most interesting part of the trip for her was the immersion in the French language and local culture which comes from living with a host family. The American students noticed many differences in how French families live, how they eat and how they travel. Smaller houses and the use of public transportation seem to be the norm in France. A French meal often ends with tomato slices and yogurt which was noted by the American students as one example of French cuisine.
Students from France are currently visiting us here in Maryland. Trips to the Washington D.C. monuments, Hershey Park, Camden Yards for an Orioles game, Ocean City and New York are all planned. A few families in our area, the Budas, the Oleks and Phillips, all spent an extra day in New York where their French correspondents saw the Broadway production of “Aladdin” and had New York bagels with cream cheese and lox for breakfast. One of the French students commented that it was the best breakfast they ever ate.
I am sure this has been an unforgettable summer for these students and their families.
I would love to share your special summer experiences. If you and your family take a memorable, even educational, trip please email me to tell me all about it. It would be wonderful to learn about all the places we’ve traveled this summer.