Seven Hills School France 2018
February 10, 2018
– Alex F.
February 12, 2018
Today was our third day in Paris. We took the metro to the Louvre. I honestly don’t know what’s so great about the Mona Lisa. It’s just a lady sitting in in a grim background with no eyebrows. I understand that it’s famous and all, but what really made it famous in the first place? I mean, I pushed my way to the front for the chance at a picture like anybody else, but it just is puzzling. Some even argue the painting is of a man :). Afterwards we went on a walking tour of Ile de la Cite, which included the Notre Dame. The cathedral’s artwork is very strange. There are some pictures of Saints with their heads cut off and such. Our tour guide told us why they were there, but the sculptures would probably freak out some people, like in old silent movies when the ladies with parasols and hoop dresses are fainting left and right. The absolutely scariest part about the decapitated saint man is that his head and his body are just sitting there like nothing’s wrong. He doesn’t seem to care that his head is not attached to his neck. After that we went to the Sacre Couer church. It seemed nice, and you could see the sparkling eiffel tower from afar. Wouldn’t the people who had apartments near the Eiffel Tower not be able to sleep? It was pretty though.
– Darius K,
February 13, 2018
Today is our 4th day in France and considering I’m not a French student, I think I am starting to get a French accent and starting to master the French language. Today we had a somewhat restful day as we left t the MIJE hostel in Paris, to go the beautiful Avignon. We took a bullet train that went a whopping 180mph. As fast as we were going we still got to see the beautiful sights as we exited the stunning Paris, France. After our 2 hour train ride we finally stepped foot in Avignon, France. We hopped on a bus to go to Hotel Danieli . We jumped off the bus to have some down time at the hotel and for once it was warm! We went to explore the amazing sight of the Pont d’Avignon, which means the Bridge of Avignon. We learned about how the bridge had been broken down many times and had been built several times after the first building of the bridge. That seems like a lot of money down the drain. After resting we explored the exotic sights of Avignon. We went to the historical Palais des Papes. We learned many different facts about how the Pope lived. Winter must have been rough for the Pope and his friends! After learning about the Pope’s lifestyle, we went on a fun exciting scavenger hunt to try to win a ride on the carousel ride as our reward. On our adventure we met many local people and learned about the French culture. We went to a really cool restaurant that served Moroccan food, which is definitely different and better than your average American cheeseburger. After dinner we walked back to our hotel for our first night in Avignon. It is crazy how fast this trip is going by, and I can’t wait to explore more of France especially staying with the homestays!
– Audrey R.
February 14, 2018
Today, after visiting Paris and the Palais des Papes and the famous bridge in Avignon, we had an amazing Valentine’s Day at a honey farm. We learned all about bees as well as seeing them, and got to taste different types of honey, or meil. They were really good! They were all different flavors, like fleur, (flowers), oranger (oranges) and lavande (lavenders). The honey was also creamy instead of sticky like we have. In the afternoon, we visited a goat farm where we got to hold adorable baby goats that were only five days old! They already had really fluffy fur and teeth. They even sucked on our fingers! It was so cute! We got to taste goat cheese, both one day old and one week old versions which was also really good. We rode home and played telephone while some of us ate escargot (snails) and frogs’ legs. We arrived home after a very fun day of tasting things and holding baby goats.
February 15, 2018
Today was the day that we left Avignon. Je suis très triste. It was hard waking up but thankfully I was able to get there early enough to grab a few chocolate croissants. After one last pass by the Palais des Papes, we walked to a market, split up in groups, and bought ingredients for a picnic lunch. When I walked in the door, I smelled beacoup (a lot) of fromage (cheese) and meat. Immediately to my right and left were bakeries, and beyond that a cheese shop. My group’s task was to buy 2 different cheeses for sandwiches. After asking many times how to say, “can I have cheese please, we finally tried to order. I started by asking, “Normalment, combien de kilos pour 13 personnes?” It all went south from there, as the cheese person spoke to me in English. I guess somehow she knew we were American. So, after asking her about her recommendations, we decided to get emmental (Swiss) and cheddar cheese. After making a successful purchase of the cheese, I passed the time by looking at different things for sale in the market, like some crazy fishes, brains, and cow tongue and comparing the weight of my backpack with others. (Mine was the heaviest). Then, we got time to shop outside the market at a flea market type place. I did not get anything, but I know that some people got WWII era gas masks. Done with buying ingredients, we bought drinks for the picnic and I was thankful that I was quick enough to grab a Sprite instead of water. Then, we all piled in vans and drove a short distance away to the Pont de Gard, a bridge built by Romans in the year 0 using arches as support. We explored the bridge for a bit, and had an awesome picnic. I was happy that using our French skills we were able to put together something edible. Then we had a quick lesson on les bises, which I did not enjoy. Then we walked and climbed the surrounding areas and piled back in the vans and waited anxiously as we got closer to Carcassonne and our host families. I passed the time in the van by playing solitaire. We got off the vans, unloaded our bags, and waited. I was very nervous but I knew no matter what I would love my experience. When my family arrived, I greeted them cheerfully until I realized that they were welcoming us. Les bises weren’t that bad, and I was very glad that I was comfortable in my new home. We ate a little bit and then went home. My host famille showed us our rooms, and then we got settled and had dinner. It was delicious burritos french-fried with a sauce. Then we watched TV and had fun watching American movies in French. We were all tired, so we went to bed and we were all happy and excited for another great day in France.
February 16, 2018
Today was our second day in Carcassonne. My roommates and I all woke up to our host mom knocking on our door saying “bonjour”. We slowly got out of out beds and got our clothes on and after that they feed us some bread and Nutella. Once we met with our group, we drove right on over to the school where we sat waiting for our new friends from a different country to arrive. A group of eighth graders walked into the room and once we learned each other’s names we got into groups and started to ask each other questions in English and French. I expected questions like favorite sports teams, hobbies, and what we eat, but what we really got were questions on stereotypes, families, and pets. Once the questions were over, we got a mini tour of the school by one of the students. The second we went outside people were coming up to me asking so many questions that I didn’t know who was saying each question. Once the tour was over, we went back into the classroom where another group of eighth graders came in and we played a character guessing game with them. We got to dress up in different costumes and read a script in front of both classes and each group had to answer who they thought it was. It was really fun! When we finished that game we split into smaller groups who got different sheets of paper with different questions. My group got to about the fifth sheet of paper. Because they only have an hour with us they had to go which meant only one other class could meet with us. And now I was ready for the biggest part of the day I had been waiting for, the scavenger hunt. I was very exited for this because the last time I did a scavenger hunt I was in sixth grade. When the students entered the room we learned each other’s names then headed out. I was with a couple of my friends, and it was a little hard to communicate at first, but than we got the hang of it. We went all over the school looking for different people and objects, and overall it was very fun. When the teachers called us in they decided it would be pretty cool if we did the mannequin challenge. Once we finished the challenge we took a couple pictures together and went to lunch in their cafeteria. Because it was Chinese New Year, they had food like shrimp salad, noodles, and soup. It was delicious! When we left the lunchroom, there was no one from the school with us so we instantly got swarmed by people. Everywhere I looked I saw some one hoping that I would answer their questions. Some of my friends and I were sitting on a bench and we had to sprint out of there just to get away from some of the people who were constantly asking us questions. Eventually they let us sit down without being crowded by half the school. When we finally left, the teachers all gave us gifts and we walked down to our cars. We had a great time and learned so much French!
February 17, 2018
Today we drove over to an archeological site to excavate and move dirt out of a 13th century water mill. This was an interesting site to work at as it previously housed the only machine used in the 13th century. We were able to look at the first, second, and third floors. We worked at the site for three hours, picking, shoveling, and flattening the earth. The work consisted of people moving shoveled dirt outside, to flatten it, people picking at the dirt to make it easier to shovel, and people outside flattening the dirt that was being dropped off by the wheel barrow. After, we had lunch and played tag with the group of French kids we had been working with. Playing the game with the French kids was very fun, as it allowed me to continue to practice my French that day, and I thought it was a great way to end our time at the mill site. The site was different from anything we have in the United States, as most buildings that were from early centuries were either torn down, or were not kept in good condition or restored. I have never worked at an archaeological site or anything similar to it, so I found it unique to be able to experience restoring an old factory. After lunch, we drove over to the site that our school normally does community service at. There, we walked on a dirt path next to countless grape vines. After the walk in the site, we drove back home to our host families.
February 18, 2018
Rain and wind flew into our faces, freezing us to the bone. We were up at the top of the Saint Vincent church, where we were exposed to the elements. Beneath the clouds of the storm, we saw Carcassonne, spread across the valley before us. The Pyrenees loomed in the distance, like giants in the fog. The view came at a price however, as we had to climb countless spiral stairs to get to our position at the top of the tower. Fearing the wind and rain would strengthen; we hurried down from our position, reaching the base level of the church, where beautiful organ music was played. We exited the church, and walked quickly to the nearest store we could find, in the hopes that it would shelter us from the worst of the storm. Our host family spotted a bookstore and all of us entered, with my friend and I in high hopes of finding some English books. Once the rain stopped, and we all rushed to a café where we ordered some delicious hot chocolate. The heat rushed to my stomach, and warmed me up immediately. By the time we exited the café the rain had permanently stopped, and we were able to take our time walking back to the car. Next on our to do list was to meet the other families and play pétanque. We arrived at the courts and started playing. The game itself was fun, and I enjoyed it. Soon after we finished our game, we headed back to the house, and I started working on the puzzle my friend had gifted to our homestay family. Time passed, and it was almost time to go bowling. Our host family had organized for us to play with another homestay family. We drove to pick them up, and then headed to the bowling alley. Once there, we organized ourselves into groups, the children, and the adults. I had forgotten how much I liked bowling, and the experience rekindled my liking for it. We played well, and I got first place, and my friend scored just below me. He and I were excited by doing so well, and our excitement only grew when we saw we were having pizza together. As it turned out, the food was delicious! We had a great day with our host families!
February 19th, 2018
The morning of the last day has dawned on us. I wake up to realize that this was in fact a full true day in France. I wake up to have my roommate jab me in the side to eat breakfast. We eat our breakfast of a healthy 2 chocolate croissants with Nutella, yogurt, and finished it with a cup of tea. Today is the day for our French cooking class! We are greeted by our teacher who told us that beyond her front door we couldn’t speak English. We walk in and find tools ready. The woman lets us feel the ingredients under a blanket, which I deemed as weird. We make “chaussons,” dumplings baked with squash, walnuts, carrots, onion, and garlic inside. Our next activity was community service in a local daycare. When we arrived, we were greeted by kids ranging from four to eleven years old, all engaged in activities. I join a game of tag with three kids, which grows into twenty kids poking me screaming “touche!” We group the kids and take the older ones up to a field where we introduce our game called “Banana Tag” and they introduced another game which seems that no one could remember. As I recall now, we played for two hours which was tiring but fun. We learned lots of French! Later, we went to a supermarket with our homestay dad. There, we see some of our friends and shop for groceries. As I looked around the store I realized that it wasn’t that different from an American supermarket, except for the big cheese shop that wafted the smell of cheese through the whole building. We returned to our homestay and we play foosball and ping pong in the game room. My roommate and I then go to the rooms of our homestay brothers and play video games with them, teaching them video gaming slang in America. We eat dinner, which consisted of an appetizer of a carrot/tomato salad and bread, followed by the main dish of chicken, asparagus, and potatoes (which was very tasty) and finished it off with a dessert of chocolate pudding that we brought from the supermarket. We finish our night with a chess game, my roommate still victorious. I read a comic book series that I hadn’t finished that I realized that my homestay brother had. The thing was he had all the books, so I was able to read four books. I talk with my roommate and talk about the day and crack out jokes, and go to bed packed for the flight home tomorrow. I realized that this was the end of the trip and thought if only I could do this one more time…