Hi, my name is Sarah and I recently returned home from a 6 week exchange in Le Mans, France April 2019.
I flew into Paris on the 17th of March 2019. I was very nervous prior to leaving, but was more at ease once I arrived at the house. Because I arrived on a Sunday, I started school the next day, Monday. The first day of school was difficult, but as it is anywhere, as everything was very new and completely different to the Irish system.
The first week flew by, as did the second as I made sure to keep very busy in classes. We went on a trip to the Palace of Versailles, Mont Saint Michel, an amusement park and Paris. In Paris I got to climb the Eiffel Tower and visit the Louvre Museum, which I am very grateful for.
There are a few tips and ideas that could help another person in the same situation;
• Just go with the flow, relax and go with whatever the family are doing, agree with everything!
• Adapt and let things just happen, don’t try to control the situation or make big demands. Everyone around me wanted to help me and to get used to that.
• Make a promise to yourself that you will succeed and you will. If you do that you will last all the time you are supposed to whether it is 2, 4 or 6 weeks.
• Make yourself go to bed early every night especially on days that there is school or an early start the next day. The days are long and being tired all day is so hard.
• Spend time packing and be realistic about what you pack, if your probably not going to wear it then don’t pack it.
• Bring jeans, jumpers and hoodies, and only one or two leggings. One to wear, one for a spare and one in the wash. Short and sports-wear are good if you like that for sports.
• Don’t bring ripped jeans or stressed jeans these are no worn and you will feel odd. Wearing track suit bottoms doesn’t go down well unless you are running or in a sport.
• Sending and receiving letters is great. Be sure to bring nice writing paper and envelopes. Find out where the post office is and aim to get to it within the first week. You have to write to everyone to get a letter back. It takes about 5 days to get a letter back. You can write letters during the school, it passes the time.
• Bring the guide book from Jane. It is very useful to check in on every so often, to read over the top tips for settling in.
• Try to reduce the amount of time you spend on you phone with you friends from home.
• Don’t panic, everyone is there to help.
Finally, I am proud that I stayed to the end of the 6 weeks and was delighted when I returned home, although I found saying goodbye hard. There has been a noticeable improvement in my French understanding and I hope to see the again as they were very welcoming.