I chose to do an AFS intensive program to improve my French and learn more about the French culture.
Not only has this experience has transformed my life, and the lives of people around me, it has made me a better, more independent and easy-going person.
“I improved my French and embraced new and daring experiences.”
My host family was fantastic. They were super lovely, inclusive and easy going. I was in a family of five, which included a mum who was a doctor, a dad who was an engineer, an older sister who didn’t live at home, an older brother who was in his senior year (terminale), and a younger brother who was in his second year (deuxieme).
The most challenging part of the exchange was going to school and making friends. Not having anyone from my host family in the same year as me at school was hard because it meant that I had to go to all of my classes alone, get outside of my comfort zone and talk to new people to make my own friends. This was particularly tough, especially because everything is already super overwhelming when you are there.
When I did try, the girls were really nice, but they found it quite hard to stay interested in my conversation because when my level of French wasn’t yet up to their standards, so I found it quite hard to practise my speaking with them.
I overcame this by continually trying to speak French with the girls in my class, and not to get disheartened. After trying hard to make friends, I got along with four girls in particular really well, and I was able build friendships and practise my French with them. It was a really valuable experience because it pushed me to improve my French and embrace new and daring experiences.
Something that was unexpected during my program, was how quickly it got dark in Louannec because it was winter.
My favourite memory of my exchange was the Christmas holidays. During this period, I was at home with my host brothers and sister, who were all really lovely. We played games, watched TV together, shared stories… It was really great. And being with them helped my French most of all because they were all really happy to speak French with me, and help correct my French.
Going on exchange was a great opportunity to practise my French and I improved greatly in my confidence and listening abilities.
In the future, I would like to travel and live overseas. Hopefully, my AFS experience will be able to help me with that.
I think if everyone had the opportunity to do exchange, the world would consist with a lot more open minded, independent, and encouraging people. In my opinion, these qualities would greatly benefit the world. It would give individuals the opportunity to understand ideas from different perspectives. If we were more open minded, and we were able to have humility, then this world would be moving forward in a positive direction.
To any students thinking about going on exchange or doing an AFS program, definitely do it! It is a daring experience, but it is totally worth it. It will push you out of your comfort zone, but you can embrace that.
If I could say one thing to any parents who have children interested in going on exchange, it would be that this experience an amazing way your child will grow into their best selves: independent and open-minded people. Something, that would greatly benefit your child in their lives and yours.
An intercultural experience is like a practise version of life and the future. If you ever want to move forward, you must get out of your comfort zone and try new, challenging and daring things. Definitely do it!
Frederike – Student from Australia to France