I meant to upload this yesterday, but something came up and I completely forgot! Sorry about that! Anyways, today’s post is about my time abroad as an international student. If you’ve read pretty much any of my posts in the past, you’d know that for the last 2.5 months I have been in (for the most part) in Dijon, France. In 2 weeks I’ll be returning to Canada and my regular high school.
I wanted to make this post for two reasons. The first is to tell you guys a bit about the program I went with, and the second is to tell you about French schooling (because I’ve gotten quite a few questions about it and how it’s different from Canada).
To start, I first found out about the possibility of an exchange in Grade 7 or 8. I obviously was waaaaay too young to do it then, so I moved it to the back burner until the start of grade 9. One day in French class we had a presentation from a company called ISE Ontario (International Student Exchange in case you didn’t connect those dots). I eagerly listened to the presentation and rushed home to tell my parents about it. After a LOT of begging, my parents agreed to let me apply (when I say a lot, I mean a lot – just ask my mum).
The application process was… thorough to say the least. Approximately 12 pages long, it asked you about pretty much everything. My parents also filled out a bunch of questions, mostly about the home and routines. They try to be as thorough as possible, because you’re spending 6 months with your partner, and it’d be a shame if you didn’t get along!
Anyways, that was in the winter months. By May-June I got my partner profile who (as my family jokingly said) was the French equivalent of me. We liked a lot of the same things and whatnot, so I was super excited! We talked to each other on Facebook and Skype, and then finally met in August when she came to Canada. We had a wonderful time, and kept in touch after she went back in November. Then as you know, I went there in February and will be returning shortly! (If you want to read about my time here, check out the travel part of my blog).
Next part is about French school vs Canadian school. I figured this was a good time to write about it, since my last day just passed!
To put it simply, they’re about as different as they can get! For starters, school size. My Canadian school is about 1200 kids, while my French school was 2.5x that; my Canadian school is a simple two story square-ish building, my French school is a labyrinth that I STILL don’t know how to navigate (tbh I don’t think anybody does!).
School here is much more formal and strict than in Canada. Teachers are treated with the utmost respect, technology is prohibited unless otherwise stated (more on that later), and school is a place for learning – not other things such as electives or extra curriculars.
Academics are taken very seriously here, which is something I really appreciated it. Although it was in French, I understood the majority of the lessons (just like I don’t understand Shakespeare in English, I don’t understand Moliere in French) and I liked the challenges posed to us.
I have to say though, that I do like the freedom of expression there is in Canada. I love and have learned to value the opportunities given to me through electives, clubs, and sports. I also enjoy (aka need) my phone in class, because I work 10x better when having music to distract me from other people. Like I said, technology isn’t allowed unless you’re given permission. Fortunately, the Dean gave me permission to use my phone as a translator when I needed it, so that was great (no music though).
Overall, going to school here was an interesting experience, as was the trip as a whole. I skipped a lot in this post about how it all works, but if anybody wants to know more about ISE or is just curious about French school, you can always leave a comment and I’d be happy to chat with you about it!
For now, i’m going to go enjoy my two week vacation (OH YEAH. WE GET A TON OF BREAKS HERE! IT’S GREAT!). Until next time!
P.S. Sorry for the no picture post, I still love you all!