French Trip 2018
A group of 15 students from James Hargest, Southland Girls’ and Verdon together with two teachers travelled to France as part of the Invercargill combined schools’ exchange. In February, students from Ecole Normale Catholique in Paris had travelled to Invercargill to experience our culture and practise their english skills. On 31 March, it was our turn to travel 36 hours to experience typical french lifestyle and practise our french.
After the weekend with our host families, we all met again at school for a tour and a day at the school. It was interesting to discover that all technology is banned at school in France which is very different to New Zealand. Since Paris has a lack of space to build, our exchange school decided to lower the ceiling on one floor to make space for another floor. The school was very old fashioned with chalk boards in every class and the odd projector. High school in France starts at 8.50am and can finish as late as 6.00pm, which is very long compared to school here. However, the view from the seventh storey made up for it all with a beautiful view of Paris including the Eiffel Tower.
During the first two weeks, we visited a range of tourist attractions, including the main ones such as the Sacre-Coeur, Notre Dame, Versailles, and the Louvre where we saw the Mona Lisa. We also visited the Arc de Triomphe, Roue de Paris and the Champs Elysées. We took part in a food tour where we tasted different cheeses, strawberries, eclairs and baguette. The cheeses were very different and tasted stronger than New Zealand cheeses. We also visited the Eiffel Tower and Disneyland Paris.
Life with the french families was different than expected, but living with our buddies was a great opportunity to practise our french. The third week was spent with our host family. Most of our group went to the south of France with our families and spent the week in places like Saint Tropez, Nice and Monaco. The south is very beautiful with lots of beaches and definitely a change from a big city like Paris.
After our week’s holiday in the south, we left our host families for a weekend trip to Le Quesnoy, a small village which was liberated by New Zealand soldiers 100 years ago just before the end of the World War 1. This village always celebrates ANZAC Day. During our time here, we were well looked after by the association of Le Quesnoy Nouvelle Zelande who had organised a weekend packed with commemorative events. We learnt about how New Zealand soldiers used some ladders and climbed the town walls to liberate Le Quesnoy on 4 November 1918, instead of bombing it. This day was very successful for New Zealand Soldiers and the community are still very thankful 100 years on.
During a 2 hour walk which followed the path that the soldiers took, two of our students presented the story of Brigadier James Hargest and his journey as a soldier. The community and other NZ visitors were very interested in our story about James Hargest and were thankful for us sharing our story. After attending the weekend, Le Quesnoy has become important to all of the girls who attended the trip and we hope we can share the story and help continue celebrating and remembering the work the NZ soldiers achieved in Le Quesnoy. When we were returning to Paris, we stopped in Arras at the Carriere Wellington which also has a strong link to the NZ miners.
On our last day we visited Normandy and went to Brigadier James Hargest’s grave. Laura and I laid a poppy wreath on Anzac day to remember him. We sang Hemi Hakena and the national anthem with the girls from the other schools. It was very moving seeing his grave. After this we went to Le Mont Saint Michel before heading back to Paris for our 36 hour flight home.
It was such an amazing opportunity to be able to experience french culture in France and practise the language. I am thankful for the opportunity provided by the French teachers from Invercargill schools. This opportunity has made me want to travel and experience different cultures in the world and learn more languages. It is important to take up the opportunities given to you especially if you take a language to improve our listening and speaking. This was an experience we will never forget.
by Alice Moreton
A group of James Hargest College and Southland Girls’ High School senior French students spent just over 3 weeks in France in April and the beginning of May. Firstly the students spent 6 days in Paris. Mrs Black was the group’s tour guide and took the students to a variety of places such as the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre Dame, Versailles, Catacombes and Disneyland. The students loved the experience and rated the sights highly.
From Paris, the group travelled to Arras and Le Quesnoy. Both places had strong links with New Zealand soldiers during World War 1, with the latter town being liberated from the Germans near the end of the war. The students lay a wreath at the NZ Memorial, in remembrance of the soldiers who fought there. It was very fitting being only a week before ANZAC Day.
Next the group travelled to Bourg-en-Bresse. Each student lived with their penpal, who had stayed with them in Invercargill in February. The next 2 weeks were spent completely immersed in the French culture. The students had the opportunity to speak French, dine on French cuisine, attend a French school (Lycee Lalande) and see the local sights.
There were many tears on the last day when the Invercargill students had to leave their host families and begin their journey home. Most of the students are already talking about when they will be able to go back to France and meet up with their hosts again.
On the 5th of April we endured the extremely long flight which took us to France. We spent 3 weeks in Lille with our correspondents and got the chance to attend their school with them and really delve into the French culture. We had the experience of going to Belgium a couple times as it was extremely close to Lille. The city of Bruges was a highlight for many of us as it was very beautiful.
After departing Lille and leaving our correspondents behind which was a rough time for all of us as we had all become so close during our time together, we started the next chapter in our journey. The sadness was soon forgotten though as we had a week in Paris to look forward to. Paris lived up to every expectation I had. It was incredible, from the buildings, to the people, to the food. We had the opportunity of visiting all the famous and historic monuments like the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, including the churches and museums which Paris has to offer.
This month changed my life for the better and if I had the chance I would definitely take it again and again. Travelling to France made me realise how big the world really is and the amount of opportunities which lie out there.