by Polina L., 7th grade international middle school student
The day I got the application for my exchange student, there was a rush of excitement in my blood. I was not only excited to go to France, but also for her to come and visit America. We spent a lot of time together and it was great when she was here. The month after she left, and before I went to France, we Skyped every weekend and I could not wait. My friend and I started counting the hours before we were meeting at the airport to go to France for three weeks. I got there and the family was very welcoming, and I was so joyful because the time I had been waiting for was finally here!
I went to school with her the next day. I was shy and my exchange student greeted all her friends with two kisses, one on each cheek. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do and I was desperately waiting for my friend that came on the trip with me to arrive. It felt like everything about that school was different. It was much bigger, more classes, and one thing that I was really looking forward to was waking up much later and taking the public bus to school. What I thought was very interesting about the school buildings was that they were just a lot of old houses and apartments that were remodeled to be classrooms.
What I also loved was the independence you get there; you are trusted to go to school on your own, come back on your own, and then most parents let you just go over to a friends’ after school. Everything is in walking distance, so you go to the store, dance class, or art class by foot all alone.
I loved visiting “Le Musée d’Orangerie”, a beautiful art museum next to the gardens of Tuilleries, with Mme. Greiner and eating a chocolate “macaron” (french cookie with paste in the middle) from Ladurée, a very antique and beautiful bakery/restaurant. I have already been to Paris a couple of times and seen all the popular attractions so my family brought me to see other things like I visited the “Fondation Claude Monet à Giverny”. I love the artist Monet so I could see all his masterpieces come to life. I visited many things and I love being a tourist in Paris.
I made so many friends in France and now I have so many memories to cherish. This exchange trip helped me to learn more about another culture, experience life in another family, and be able to visit France and improve my French.The family was quite different too. Both of my parents are doctors and in France, my exchange mother owned a restaurant downstairs and the father was musician, traveling from concert to concert.
I was very sad to leave and I’m sure it’s a trip that I will not forget.
*In 2020, the International School of the Peninsula (ISTP) formally changed its name to Silicon Valley International School (INTL) to better reflect its bilingual programs, location, and international values.