Bienvenue à French Students


French exchange students meeting their host students at West.

By Isa Gil, Social Media Editor

Every two years, Niles West participates in the French Exchange Program. This program allows students from France to come to America in order to simultaneously improve their English and further their knowledge of the American culture. This happens through excursions, interactions with American kids, and living with host families. American students are to undergo the same experience when they travel to France.

This year marked the return of the French Exchange Program. The exchange students arrived at Niles West Monday, Oct. 15. Since their arrival, they have been improving their English skills while touring Chicago and participating in traditional American festivities.

“I really love meeting new people and going into the city because it is so pretty and different from France. In France, we don’t have cities with big buildings like they do here,” exchange student Alexis Buchard said.

Being in October, the French students have been able to enjoy many of America’s fall festivities, including pumpkin carving, corn mazes, and haunted houses.

“By being in America, I have been able to experience new things I would not have been able to in France. I went pumpkin carving for the first time here, which was very different and cool and I experienced my first haunted house,” exchange student Nicolas Gaudin said.

One of the unique things about the French exchange is the opportunity for French students to stay in American households. Instead of coming as tourists, they are able to get the experience of living the authentic American lifestyle. By following and participating in their teenage hosts’ lives, they get a unique perspective of America rather than just what they read in books or learn in school.

“This is the first time I have gone to America. I decided to come because I love discovering new things, new people, and new culture. Throughout my trip here I have been able to try new food and see all the things I see in the movies. Also, the school here is very different from France because the school days end earlier and the school as a whole is much bigger here,” exchange student Julie Visonneau said.

Through this exchange, students are able to make life-long friendships and interact with people that have a different culture, language, and ultimately a different life.

Exchange students enjoying Chicago with their host students.

“It is cool to get to know what life is like on the other side of the world. I always thought they lived so differently in other places, but they’re so similar,” sophomore Niyah Poole said.

The French Exchange students leave Monday, Oct. 29, but that will not mark the end of the international friendships, as the American students will visit France during their spring break. That exchange will enable the American students to have the same experience of expanding their knowledge of French culture and language.