Part of being an exchange student is to see, learn and experience new things. I feel that being a student with American Field Service, I have accomplished these things pretty well.
I have had the best luck when it comes to traveling as an exchange student. I have been able to visit different cities in France and Spain such as Marseille, Montpellier, Annecy, Tarragona, and Barcelona. Along with that I have had once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, such as being able to view Mont Blanc, which is the largest mountain in France, to skiing in the Swiss Alps, to my most recent trip where I was able to spend two weeks in Lyon, the center of France, and Paris. I really donít know what else my time in France has in store for me, but Iím sure it will be amazing.
There are so many things that I have been able to learn during the past four months as well. I have been able to learn enough of the French language to where I am almost fluent now. Iím actually able to have a conversation with someone how I would normally talk in English; it has by far been my greatest accomplishment.
But along with that, I have learned many other things, like the French culture, their way of life, and their values as a whole. It seems as though the French peopleís way of life is, in fact; to work. I can see this as how some students will go to school from Monday through Saturday, 8-5 every week. Itís just their way of life. In my opinion; itís a very demanding, hard life. Yet the French seem to enjoy themselves much more. Whenever they arenít working, they are always having fun and enjoying life. I think itís a great trade-off.
French values seem to be all-in-all mostly the same as the ones in the United States, except I feel they put more of an importance on seeing the world. It seems like almost every student I have talked to has or will be spending at least a month in a different country on an exchange program. Seeing this has showed me how important it is to travel, no matter what. I really hope I will be able to help spread this value more once I arrive back in the United States.
I have had such luck, even in my region of France: Provence. I have done things like going to a ProvenÁal French market, and hiking up Mont Ventoux, the famous mountain that Paul Cťzanne painted. Iím also able to say I have lived in a town that started in 900 A.D. And that I have walked through fields of lavender and grapes for making wine, just enjoying life.
I feel like I have experienced a lot since Iíve been here. Itís amazing how much one can do in such little time. I am now able to say that I have gone to French high school, learned the way they learn, lived the way they live, and Iím really proud of that.