Aero: Amanda Vitale – France 2018 – Life at School

Aero: Amanda Vitale - France 2018 - Life at School

Aero: Amanda Vitale – France 2018 – Life at School

Amanda Vitale

Amanda Vitale

Life inside a high school in France was fascinating. I saw similarities along with differences in comparison to my old high school. To start, the first thing I noticed different about the French school was the actual appearance of the building. While walking up to the structure, I saw that the outside of the French school looked older than most school buildings would look in the United States.

Within the building, the students were very nice to me and my American friends. I saw more curiosity, other than judgment, from the French students which I found delightful. I also noticed that these students dressed very nice for school each day. Much nicer than what I used to see in my old high school. I learned that scarfs are very popularly warn by both women and men in French schools. Aside from fashion, a typical French student has much longer school days than an American student. My host student started school around 9am and finished around 6pm. These long school days excluded Wednesdays, for these are considered to be half school days for all students.

The class sizes were relatively the same as to what I experienced in high school. Something that stood out to me was the amount of trust given to the students by their professors. For example, the French students had their own private “chitchat” room that professors respected to not enter. I know for a fact that this would never be allowed at my old high school because of the lack of trust in students. The mobility on campus was also more openly allowed in France. It looked as if students could come and go as they pleased. I also saw more discipline and motivation in these students. There was more freedom shown in the school, yet also more peace.

A major difference shown was in the ability to smoke on school grounds. Many students, if not more than half of the school, smoked cigarettes. They even had “cigarette breaks” between classes with a large area for those who smoked. This was shocking to me because I remember smoking being heavily restricted on school grounds in my old high school.

Moving from this, many know that the French never mess around when it comes to food. This was demonstrated well with what was served for lunch at school. For example, the first day we shadowed at this French school veal was on the menu. In New York, veal would never be apart of school lunches. I also noticed that the portion sizes within these French school lunches were larger than what we were used to. They had a few different choices in fruits and vegetables and had an option of dessert. I believe these lunches were also better displayed compared to most American school lunches.

Something else I found interesting was the lack of new technology in the classrooms. In my old high school, a Smartboard was set up in practically every room. In this French high school, I don’t believe I saw any Smartboards. It looked as if they did things the “old fashion way” of using chalkboards or erase boards and this seemed to work efficiently for them.

Another thing that caught my attention was the fact that there were no drinking fountains in this school. This is far different from my old high school, as I remember in each hallway there was at least one drinking fountain present in my old high school.

Another fascinating thing I learned is that these French students have to make a career path decision when they’re super young. When they’re around 15 years old they have to carefully decide their own career path. It is also more difficult to change career paths in France than it is in America.

One last thing that really surprised me is how politically aware many French student are about American politics. I joined in on a class that knew just as much, if not more, than I did about American politics. Overall, this was an amazing opportunity to experience how a French high school works and to identify some similarities and differences with what I’m used to.

Amanda Vitale
Study Abroad – France 2018 @ FLCC

World Languages @ FLCC: France Study Abroad 2018

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