Aero: Christine Elizabeth – France 2015 – Life at School


Aero: Christine Elizabeth – France 2015 – Life at School
Creative Commons Image via The LEAF Project

Aero: Christine Elizabeth – France 2015 – Life at School


Christine Elizabeth

My prior thoughts on how I was going to feel in this school being the oldest student in the class was somewhat valid and yet somewhat not, but I will explain that in a little bit. First I want to give you an idea of what my first impression was the 1st day I attended classes.

Upon seeing the school for the first time, the first thought that ran through my head after the Harry potter theme music started playing mentally, was how large this school was, and my goodness how many young students were out in the courtyard smoking! That was a definite shock to me. I mean in America usually you would see students sneaking cigarettes and hiding far off when they were smoking so they wouldn’t be caught because they were underage. Yet here they were all out in the courtyard smoking and chatting low key like kings and queens of an imperial kingdom, as if they were in an outdoor lounge in NYC enjoying the early morning sun.

When looking at the fashion these kids had, I kind of felt like I had walked into a movie scene from Grease. The boys at this school were all dressed casually cool, with skinny jeans, Italian looking dress shoes, a polo usually, and slicked back hair like the male models in Vogue magazine. The girls were just as fashionably cute with their blue skinny jeans, sheikh sweater shirts, adorned with a simple scarf and usually hair that was left down or pulled up in a messy bun. These kids knew how to dress and accessorize. Something I wish many people in the USA would learn how to do.

The architecture of this school was very nice, columns of stone outlined walkways that lead to the entrances of the school. Large glass windows that grazed the floor and ceiling it seemed, lined the inner parts of the columned walkway, in which students could see out and outsiders look in. Very chic design in my opinion. Definitely different from the brick schools with sliding shaded windows in the united states. This school had more of a regal feel to it, yet very laid back and chill. I liked it. The architecture was simple yet Gothic in appearance sometimes.

The classes were lead by one teacher, very similar to classes in America. I also noticed the style of teaching was similar, with graphs, videos, paper handouts,and quizzes. The first class that I was in was a business class, instructed by a short gray haired professor with spectacles and a bright smile. He joked a lot and threw in a lot of silly wit in the midst of talking to his students to engage them in thought provoking questions. Very similar to the professors in the USA. A few differences I noticed were that the classes were very long! 2 hours per class to be precise. In between those 2 hours a bell would ring briefly to notify the kids of a 5-10 minute break, which when finished, students would resume their class. Very different from high school classes in America where one class is about 30-50 minutes depending on the class. We don’t have 2 hour classes until we enter college in America. I also noticed a lack of hand raising when the teacher would ask a question to the class. Students would just speak, and if one student spoke at the same time as another, one would stop and the other would continue. Something else I noticed was how much larger the classes seemed. I would say that there were about 32 kids per class. That is a lot larger than most high school classes which are about 15 kids max.


ML@FLCC France 2015 Flickr Photo Gallery

I thought it was neat that there were classes that I was able to attend that to me felt like college courses rather than high school ones. My two most favorite classes of the 3 I attended were the acting class and Spanish class. I really enjoyed the Spanish class thoroughly and was able to engage a lot with the students and professor because I speak fluent Spanish. I noted how intense that class was. It wasn’t just a typical learning Spanish class, this class taught you a specific subject in the Spanish language. This class I believe was a history class, taught in Spanish. I really admired that and think it is a wonderful way for students to learn the language better. I also enjoyed that class very much because I got to hear professor Kruger speak Spanish for the first time, it was great:) As well as I got to hear professor Van Etten speak it fluently and teach in it as well. Very cool. The last class I took which I really enjoyed was the Acting class. In this class I was with my class mate Jason and he and I got to act out some miming with the french students. I learned very quickly just how far body language and expressions with knowing very little French (or English on their behalf) can go a long way when trying to convey a point. The students were very very funny and I really had fun acting with them and watching them learn from their professor at the same time.

As I stated before I would clarify how my original thought of feeling out of place in s high school setting was and was not valid. In one sense yes it was valid because I know how much older I was than the other students. However it wasn’t valid as well for the fact that this didn’t feel like a high school to me. This had a college feel, and the way that the system was set up for students to learn as well made it feel more mature than teeny bopper-ish.

All in all a fascinating eye opening experience in education that I will take with me always and utilize these applied moments for  my future endeavors.

Christine Elizabeth
LEAF Contributor