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French Exchange Experience

Throughout the last 12 years that I have been at St Margaret’s, I have been very lucky to be given so many rewarding and enriching experiences that have helped me develop my character and become the person I want to be. While my time at St Margaret’s is enjoyable, having been here since Primary 1, I believe that change is a good thing. Therefore altering my surroundings for even just two weeks has been beneficial, as I have challenged myself to be more independent, pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and particularly, I have grown my confidence in the French language.

Learning is something usually found inside a classroom however on the exchange I found that I was learning all the time! Although I have travelled many times, I have always relied on other people to get me to the right place at the right time but this time it was different. It was a very daunting prospect for me as, before then, I had never flown by myself but keeping to a schedule and looking for a departures board as my mum instructed me to do, definitely helped me to reach my destination. Sometimes its very difficult to find the sort of independence that I experienced in France at home in Scotland and so I am very fortunate to have this chance which has made me become more self-reliant. In addition to my newfound skill of looking after myself thousands of miles away from home, I also reaffirmed the importance of asking for help when you are in need because sometimes I got lost in conversation. As my time in France increased my understanding of what people said grew to a much better level and I developed from a relatively quiet person getting off the plane at Toulouse Airport to someone leaving with their head full of vocabulary and happy memories.

During the two weeks, Cécile’s family and I visited many interesting places in the region for example the impressive Padirac Cave and the beautiful town of Albi which is home to the biggest brick building in the world, St Cecilia’s Cathedral. In addition, I was ecstatic to see Giselle, a well-known French ballet, at the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse, because I love ballet and have done it for years out of school. However, with fun came work and on Monday 9th October, I started school at Lycée Pierre-Marie Théas. Immediately I noticed differences between school in France and school in Scotland: the lack of assembly, no school uniform and the formality of class with it’s lecture-style teaching. Furthermore now I have a greater appreciation for having the freedom to choose the subjects I want to study at St Margaret’s because in France, pupils are limited to only three blocks to choose from. Cécile was in the block surrounding the study of social sciences and economics so I went to classes that I would never usually take part in, in Scotland. Let it be known that if I found science in the English language difficult, “la chimie”, “la physique” and “la biologie” were no more simple! I found it easy to get on with the other people in Cécile’s class and now that I am back in Scotland I am happy to say that I still keep in contact with many of them daily through social media.

I would definitely encourage anyone with an interest in modern languages to take part in the French exchange because going to the country is truly the best way to learn a language. I feel more confident now speaking and writing in French and moreover the exchange was lots of fun as I have made many new friends and also visited a part of France I have never been to before. While at first I was a bit nervous flying to France on my own and staying with a family I barely knew, it has been an experience which has helped shape my character and made me have more self belief therefore I am very grateful for the wonderful opportunity.

Elise, V Senior

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