Enjoy the blog posts during this year's France immersion trip, written by our 7th grade students.
When we first walked out of the airport after a long flight to France, we dragged our bags through the snow-covered ground, got on the bus, and drove to the MIJE (our hostel). We put our luggage away and were ready to explore the cold streets of Paris. First, we headed towards Notre Dame Cathedral, which looked beautiful. The frozen gargoyles on the cathedral looked like they were breathing ice. We even got to go inside the cathedral and see the stunning stained glass.
After seeing Notre Dame, we walked to a crepe stand. Inside the crepes were Nutella, sugar, and bananas. It was delicious! We then stomped through melted snow to get to the metro, which took us to the Arc De Trimophe. Our boots got wet and our hands were cold, but the sight of the Arc was worth it. We finished the day with a good dinner, and then ran to bed after an exciting day.
February 11, 2018, by Alex
After breakfast at la MIJE, we rode the metro to the Catacombs, where bones were taken from different cemeteries. They moved the bones because the other cemeteries were no longer sanitary. The bones were extremely uniform and organized by the people who placed them there. It felt very strange to see many bones stacked so neatly against each other. We explored the Catacombs and took pictures of the underground dungeon.
After walking in the Catacombs, we rode the metro all the way to the Eiffel tower. We made our way to the top of the tower where we looked at the amazing views. The tower made us appreciate Paris by giving its perspective on how vast it is. After that we rode the elevator down to the ground and walked to an Italian restaurant for dinner, then back to our hostel.
February 12, 2018, by Darius
Today we took the metro to the Louvre. I honestly don’t know what’s so great about the Mona Lisa; it’s just a lady sitting in in a grim background with no eyebrows. I understand that it’s famous and all, but what really made it famous in the first place? I pushed my way to the front like everybody else, but it just is puzzling.
Afterwards we went on a walking tour of Ile de la Cite, which included Notre Dame. The cathedral’s artwork is very strange, there are pictures of saints with their heads cut off and such. The scariest part about the decapitated man is that his head and body are just sitting there like nothing’s wrong. He doesn’t seem to care that his head is not attached to his neck. After that we went to the Sacre Couer church, and you could see the sparkling Eiffel Tower from afar. Wouldn’t the people who had apartments near the Eiffel Tower not be able to sleep? It was pretty though.
February 13, 2018, by Audrey
Today is our fourth day and I think I am starting to get a French accent and starting to master the French language. Today we had a somewhat restful day as we left Paris to go Avignon. We took a bullet train that went a whopping 180mph past the beautiful sights. After our two-hour train ride, we finally stepped foot in Avignon and hopped on a bus to Hotel Danieli. For once it was warm! We went to explore the amazing sight of the Pont d’Avignon (the Bridge of Avignon). We learned about how the bridge had been broken down and built several times. That seems like a lot of money down the drain.
At the historical Palais des Papes, we learned many different facts about how the Pope lived. Winter must have been rough for the Pope and his friends! After, we went on a fun exciting scavenger hunt to try to win a ride on the carousel ride. On our adventure we met many local people and learned about the French culture. We went to a cool restaurant that served Moroccan food, which is definitely different and better than your average American cheeseburger. It is crazy how fast this trip is going by, and I can’t wait to explore more of France, especially with the homestays!
February 14, 2018, by Luna
Today we had an amazing Valentine’s Day at a honey farm. We learned all about bees and got to taste different types of miel (honey) — they were really good! They were all different flavors, like fleur (flowers), oranger (oranges) and lavande (lavender). The honey was also creamy instead of sticky. In the afternoon, we visited a goat farm where we got to hold adorable baby goats that were only five days old! They already had fluffy fur and teeth, and sucked on our fingers, it was so cute! We got to taste goat cheese which was also good. We rode home after a fun day and played telephone while some of us ate escargot (snails) and frogs’ legs.
February 15, 2018, by Hans
Today we left Avignon, je suis très triste, but thankfully I was able to get up early enough to grab a few chocolate croissants. After one last pass by the Palais des Papes, we walked to a market and bought ingredients for a picnic lunch. My group’s task was to buy two different cheeses for sandwiches. After asking many times how to say, “can I have cheese please,” we finally tried to order. I started by asking, “Normalment, combien de kilos pour 13 personnes?” It all went south from there, as the cheese person spoke to me in English. I guess she knew we were American. So, after asking her about her recommendations, we decided to get emmental (Swiss) and cheddar cheese. After making a successful purchase of the cheese, I looked at different things for sale in the market, like some crazy fishes, brains, and cow tongue.
We all piled in vans and drove a short distance away to the Pont de Gard, a bridge built by Romans in the year 0 using arches as support. We explored the bridge and had an awesome picnic. I was happy that using our French skills we were able to put together something edible. Then we climbed the surrounding areas and piled back in the vans and waited anxiously as we got closer to Carcassonne and our host families. I was very nervous, but I knew no matter what, I would love my experience.
When my family arrived, I greeted them cheerfully and was very glad that I was comfortable in my new home. My host famille showed us our rooms, and then we got settled and had dinner. It was delicious — burritos french-fried with a sauce. Then we watched TV and American movies in French. We were all tired, so we went to bed happy and excited for another great day in France.
February 16, 2018, by Peter
My roommates and I all woke up to our host mom knocking on our door saying bonjour. After eating some bread and Nutella, our group drove to the school where we waited for our new friends to arrive. A group of eighth graders walked into the room, and once we learned each other’s names, we got into groups and started to ask each other questions in English and French. I expected questions like favorite sports teams, hobbies, and what we eat, but we got questions on stereotypes, families, and pets. Then we got a mini tour of the school by one of the students, followed by a character guessing game. We got to dress up in different costumes and read a script, and each group had to answer who they thought it was. It was really fun!
I was ready for the part of the day I had been waiting for, the scavenger hunt. We learned each other’s names then headed out. It was a little hard to communicate at first, but we got the hang of it. We went all over the school looking for different people and objects. When the teachers called us in they decided it would be cool if we did the mannequin challenge. Once we finished the challenge we took a couple pictures together and went to lunch in their cafeteria. Because it was Chinese New Year, they had delicious food like shrimp salad, noodles, and soup! When we finally left the school, the teachers all gave us gifts. We had a great time and learned so much French!
February 17, 2018, by Nick
Today we drove over to an archeological site to excavate a 13th century water mill. This was an interesting site, as it previously housed the only machine used in the 13th century. The site was different from anything we have in the United States, as most buildings that were from early centuries were either torn down or not kept in good condition or restored. I have never worked at an archaeological site or anything like it, so I found it unique to experience restoring an old factory.
We worked at the site for three hours, picking, shoveling, and flattening the earth. After, we had lunch and played tag with the group of French kids we had been working with. Playing the game and practicing French with the kids was very fun way to end our time at the mill site. After lunch we drove over to the site where our school normally does community service, and walked on a path next to countless grape vines. After the walk in the site, we drove back home to our host families.
February 18, 2018, by Owen
Rain and wind flew into our faces, freezing us to the bone. We were up at the top of the Saint Vincent church. Beneath the clouds of the storm, we saw Carcassonne, spread across the valley before us. The Pyrenees loomed in the distance, like giants in the fog. The view came at a price however, as we had to climb countless spiral stairs to get to our position at the top of the tower. Fearing the wind and rain would strengthen, we hurried down to the base level of the church, where beautiful organ music played. We walked quickly to the nearest store we could find, in the hopes that it would shelter us from the worst of the storm. Our host family spotted a bookstore and all of us entered, with my friend and I in high hopes of finding some English books. Once the rain stopped, and we all rushed to a café where we ordered some delicious hot chocolate which warmed me up immediately.
Next on our to-do list was to meet the other families and play pétanque at the courts. Soon after we finished our game, we headed back to the house, and I started working on the puzzle my friend had gifted to our homestay family. Our host family had organized for us to go bowling with another homestay family. Once there, we organized ourselves into groups—the children and the adults. I had forgotten how much I liked bowling, and the experience rekindled my liking for it. Our excitement only grew when we saw we were having pizza together. The food was delicious and we had a great day with our host families.
February 19, 2018, by Zach
The morning of the last day has dawned on us. We ate our “healthy” breakfast of two chocolate croissants with Nutella, yogurt, and a cup of tea. Today was the day for our French cooking class! We were greeted by our teacher who told us that beyond her front door, we couldn’t speak English. We found tools ready, and made “chaussons,” dumplings baked with squash, walnuts, carrots, onion, and garlic inside.
Our next activity was community service in a local daycare. When we arrived, we were greeted by kids ranging from four to 11 years old, all engaged in activities. I joined a game of tag with three kids, which grew into 20 kids poking me screaming “touche!” We took the older ones up to a field where we introduced our game “Banana Tag,” and they introduced another game. We learned lots of French!
Later, we went to a supermarket with our homestay dad. It it wasn’t that different from an American supermarket, except for the big cheese shop that wafted the smell of cheese through the whole building. We returned to our homestay and played foosball and ping pong in the game room. My roommate and I went to the rooms of our homestay brothers and played video games with them. We ate dinner consisting of a carrot/tomato salad and bread, followed by the main dish of chicken, asparagus, and potatoes, and finished it off with a dessert of chocolate pudding. We finished our night with a chess game, my roommate victorious, and I read a comic book series that my homestay brother had. I talked with my roommate about the day, cracked jokes, packed for the flight home tomorrow. I realized that this was the end of the trip, and thought if only I could do this one more time…