Here is an update about my new life in France as a Rotary exchange student! My experiences so far have already been amazing and I am so thankful that I was chosen as an exchange student from District 50/60. I can’t thank my sponsoring Rotary club and district, and hosting club and district enough!
I am living in Strasbourg, the capital and dominant city of the Alsace region in northeastern France and also the official seat of the European Parliament. Strasbourg has about 700,000 people (a nice change from Clearwater!) and many old but historic and beautiful buildings. I’ve already been down a river canal on a tour through the city, been to an ancient Roman bath, and toured the famous Strasbourg Cathedral. The cathedral, which is 2,000 years old, stands 142 meters tall, and took 300 years to build, has definitely been the most majestic sight, especially when one takes into account that it was all built without machinery!
I live with my first host family, the Tahery’s, for six months. They are the best first host family I could have asked for because I just seem to fit right in! I have a 12-year-old sister named Gabriella who is a lot of fun and a 19-year-old brother named Raphael who is a huge help because he is fluent in English.
My family has been very supportive and has already taught me a lot of French and helped me immerse myself into French culture.
My school, Lycée Sainte Clotilde, is a beautiful private school located in downtown Strasbourg. There are about 1,200 students who attend the school, which is very different from attending Clearwater Secondary, but I’ve adapted! Unlike the typical stereotypes about French people, I have found it very easy to get along with my teachers and make friends! My teachers have let me choose my courses, which never happens for French students, and to my surprise, it was very easy for me to make French friends. I’m always out with my friends during lunch breaks, shopping with them downtown, and they have even invited me to attend French basketball and football (aka soccer) matches!
On top of friends from school, I’ve also met many international friends who are on exchanges in my district. I went on Sept. 10-11 to the Vescemont Castle for my first “Inbound” orientation. There I met 26 other exchange students like myself, which was great because we could talk about the similar experiences and feelings we were all having. After that weekend, I’ve met up with many students multiple times in downtown Strasbourg to hang out and get to know them better!
So far, France has only had a positive impact on me! I look forward to spending the next eight months here and to continue to grow as a person. Although I don’t really miss too much about Canada yet, I do miss B.C.’s mountains, the small number of smokers, and the opportunities that Canadian schools can offer. As great as my school is, I cannot be involved in sports teams or band because school in France is strictly academic. So, I strongly urge students to take advantage of the varied opportunities that our Clearwater schools can offer!
And to the Senior Girls volleyball team, which I’ve learned is actually Grades 8-12 girls, (now, that’s depressing), I’m sorry I’m missing volleyball season right now. But that doesn’t mean you guys can’t be amazing! It’s okay if you lose too – just make sure you’re having fun and living it up for your last year (or five!) of high school. And please try to refrain from losing to Barriere!
I can’t believe I’ve already been here for a month. Time goes by so fast! Stay tuned for another update!
– Emma Persad