Seven Hills School France 2017
June 14-15, 2017
Our journey began when we started driving to SFO. Once we had arrived in the airport, we went through security before we boarded the plane. After boarding the plane and hoping much time had passed, I asked how many hours were left. The answer I received was seven out of the ten hour flight. As hours went by I slept, played games, watched movies, talked with my friends, and eventually the final minute had arrived. We were landing in France. We were at last in France after many restless hours on a plane. After exiting the plane we walked around the airport searching for our amazing leader of the trip, Katie. We introduced ourselves to Katie and went to the hostel for a quick stop before our wonderful journey. We walked to the Metro, and walked a little further and eventually we were able to see the huge sculpture before us, the Eiffel Tower. We began climbing up flights of stairs, the class was tired out and we lost most of our energy. Thankfully, we all made it to the top. We got to see some amazing views, and as me headed back down we were more tired than ever. After we ventured about the Eiffel Tower, we got a sweet treat, some delicious ice cream. We all got ice cream and headed back to the hostel. We came back and took a short rest before dinner. After dinner we went up to our rooms after an exciting first day in France.
June 16, 2017
Today we started off the day with a delicious French breakfast and drinking lots of water to stay hydrated. With the right perseverance and determination we made our first stop at the Louvre for about two hours. We spent quite a while there although not enough to get through everything, walking around and admiring all the sculpture and painting from the ancient times. We got to see many paintings that taught us the truth about the French Revolution while the sculptures were more on the symbolic side. After taking some nice pictures of the beautiful exterior of the Louvre, we took a walk down to the Musée d’Orsay to observe some the famous artists and their artwork that we discussed in class. The Musée d’Orsay has some wonderful things to see that I know the whole class didn’t wish to miss. Lots of walking and many hours go by makes you hungry and soon it was time for us to enjoy our baguette sandwiches and our delicious éclairs in the park behind Notre Dame. Lunch was a great time for us to relax and have lots of fun at the park.
For the two days we have been in France we’ve had the chance to relax and just observe what we see, but because we needed some academic studies we took our time to take a tour on one of the islands where Notre Dame sits. We learned so much factual information that was not very easy to fathom. Our tour guide did it not only push us to learn French we also learned the history behind the cathedral. This evening, we went out to dinner where the class tasted escargot for the first time! And to top off the night, we had the most peaceful boat ride over the Seine River with the breeze hitting against our faces and smell of fresh air.
June 17, 2017
Today we woke up tired, but still ready to see the rest of the biggest monuments and museums of Paris. We started by walking to the Picasso museum and although I don’t have as much of an interest in art as others do, I still found the evolution of his art and how it corresponds to his emotions to be interesting. We then ate falafels for lunch in the park. It was my first time trying one. After lunch we got in the very long line to climb the Notre Dame and we waited for almost an hour, maybe two. Although the wait was long it brought us to a beautiful view and it showed us the incredible architecture of the building. We then took a long metro ride to see the beautiful Arc de Triumph and the Champs Elysees. After that we took another long metro ride, which took us to the top of Paris’ hill. There we ate dinner, saw the view from the Sacre Cœur, and visited the street where many artists painted and drew. We then returned to the hostel late in the night and finally got some rest after this busy day.
June 18, 2017
Today we traveled from Paris to Avignon. We began our day once again by having a breakfast in our hostel. Sadly, right after we had to head to our room to pack up our belongings. We were all elated to get to Avignon, yet we were sad that our time in Paris had just ended. We got on the bus, and headed to the train station. We were going to ride the bullet train. We were wondering what the train ride would be like. To our surprise the train was calm and nice, the three hour trip went by fast. On the ride we got to see the French countryside, and its pretty farms and lavender fields. We disembarked the bus and got on the largest bus ever to get into Avignon. We settled into our hotel and made our way to Pont d’Avignon happy that our hotels have air condoning. We looked at the pretty view off the bridge and looked around at the structure. As a class we sang the Pont d’Avignon song along with dance moves. We met up with our kind tour guide, Emmanuel. He taught us about Palais des Papes, which was the home of the Pope for one hundred years. He also dazzled us with his amazing voice. After the tour, we got in groups to do a scavenger hunt around the city. It encouraged us to talk to locals and people of many languages. This activity made us more comfortable speaking french with people we do not necessarily know. We ended the day with a traditional three hour long French meal. Great day…cannot wait for more!
June 19, 2017
Today we traveled outside Avignon to visit a lavender farm, and an apiary. We woke up in the morning, around 8, and met down for breakfast around 8:45, and boarded a bus ride out to a bee farm outside the city. There, we listened to someone teach us about bees, and how honey is harvested and farmed. This was primarily in French, and much of the class found it difficult to understand, but Katie, our guide, happily translated some of it to English for us. Some of the students believed that this may have gone a little long, but I personally enjoyed it. After that, we boarded a bus to the lavender farm, which was relatively long, an hour or so, and mostly filled with quiet chit-chat and sleeping. Upon arrival, we ate our pre-ordered pizza lunch, and began our tour of the lavender fields. We walked around in the hot Provençal sun, examining and smelling the different types of lavender, and listening to the owner of the farm’s stories. After that we made lavender flavored jam with our guide, cutting up fruit, and stirring the fruit while it’s cooking. After that, we took half an hour to relax and buy souvenirs from the gift shop, before boarding the bus back to Avignon for a long, drawn out dinner of Moroccan food, which the class enjoyed. We returned back to our hotel around 9, leaving just enough time for writing in our journals and contacting home for an hour before heading to sleep.
June 20, 2017
The morning started off avec les croissants et les yaourts. We headed to Les Halles, an indoor market pour acheter notre déjeuner et pratiquer notre français. After purchasing ingredients and possibly a souvenir from the flea market-like stands nearby, we returned to Hotel Danieli to pick up our luggage. Since the head count stopped at huit, the teachers found Islay and Nyah before Serge drove us to the Pont du Gard, un aqueduct très ancient. A quick dip in the river was followed by a picnic lunch. A little more than two and a half hours later the bus dropped us off at the “Fast Hôtel” to meet our familles d’accueiles. Olivia and I greeted Valerie et Chloé avec les bises. À leur maison, nous avons parlé avec Tom, 12 ans, et nous avons mangé des tomates, des concombres, du pain, et du saucisson sec. Olivia and I gave the Ducombs our thank you gift, which they loved, before showering and going to bed. Bonne nuit!
June 21, 2017
Today was the beginning of our service learning which was very fun. We woke up today at our host family’s home enjoying the change of venue. We ate breakfast at the home then left to meet the rest of our class. Upon arrival at the meeting point we gave bisous (kissed on the cheek/ yes, they really do that in France) and were excited to tell our classmates about last night’s experiences. We then began our trek up to le Chateau de Carcassonne. On our way we got to experience and view a lot of French architecture. Once we arrived at the Chateau de Carcassonne we looked at the castle and then went souvenir shopping. People bought stuff like fake swords and even a few crossbows. After a half an hour of souvenir shopping we met up again for our tour. Our tour guide told us lots of legends about medieval warfare. We also got to learn about religion in the town and the warfare advantages the castle had. After our tour we had 10 more minutes for souvenirs where all the girls bought candy. We then proceeded to the spacious bus where we drove to our next destination, the kids camp. The group ate our lunches under a shady tree near the kids camp on the lake. We had multiple conversations about our host families and how much we enjoy the homestays. After lunch we practiced our songs we were going to sing with the children at the camp. With our anticipation for the camp growing, we then went down to the lake to dip our toes in the water. After the refreshing cool-down, we walked to the children’s camp. When we arrived we were all nervous. We got to play musical chairs, a cup game, a matching game, and then a water game, with all the children. After that we split into groups to entertain the children, and share some of our American culture with the French children. Some groups played red light green light, some sang and clapped to Down By The Banks, and some even did the hand clap game Lemonade. The kids seemed to enjoy our visit. After the games we had a snack and free time. They loved to talk to us, and even played Lemonade. During free time they got to play with the children one on one. We then changed into our swimsuits, waved good bye and hopped into the lake nearby. We got to swim in the lake for about 10 minutes before getting into the bus and driving to meet our host families. Once at the meeting point we waved goodbye to our classmates and said hello to our host family who we would sped the rest of the day with. Today was a great day because we pushed to our French speaking limits while still having fun!
June 22, 2017
We began the day with community service. Arriving at Jules Fil, we found a large group of kids welcoming us to the work area. Our class got the opportunity to talk and play with the French children, who were very eager to communicate and get to know us. The kids, coming from a local school, learned to play an American game while we were taught by the kids how to play a French game. When the kids left, we started on cleaning out the ditch of a bridge. Even though the work was difficult, it gave us a meaningful experience that would give our effort to others. On our way back, we were invited to have a snack with the kids we met earlier. We found their class and school style to be much different than ours. I loved visiting the school. All the kids were very sweet and one even gave me a picture she drew. 🙂 As soon as we found out about our surprise destination everyone was wild! At a lake, there was a floating water inflatable parcours. Sky-scraping mountains, giant trampolines, and rollercoaster slides filled the lake. Everyone had a blast, enjoying every second of a burning day’s reward! I headed home, cooking and preparing dinner with my French family. The first few days with my French family have been awesome. I’m looking forward to the rest of the trip!