I'm gonna be an exchange student! Yippee!

With any luck, I will be going to France for nearly 3 weeks this summer as an exchange student with my school. I will probably be going with about 12 or 13 other kids, but we will have seperate homes. I’ll be staying with a family in Marseille. After 2 weeks there, our small group is going to go to Paris and do a tour of the city for 4 days. I can’t tell you how excited I am about this trip - this is gonna be so cool. And I even know a little French. :wink: So… have any of you ever been an exchange student? In France? What was it like? Is there anything I should know before I go?
(I’ll have more info on my trip in the days ahead.)

“A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men.”
– Henry David Thoreau

If it’s France, 3 weeks would be enough for me. I’d like to live a year somewhere. Like Berlin, Tokyo, Cape Town. Not France.
But have fun, and you will be protected from the flying insults as a group. Watch chevy Chase in European vacation. The waiter scene is hilarious.

Good for you! What fun you’ll have.

What grade are you in?


I’m in 10th grade now, so I’ll be going into 11th grade after I get back from France, if that makes any sense…

I promise I’m not being trite.

My father went to France (Paris) last spring and the common I remember most vividly is about how small ALL the cars there are.

My experience with that country is limited to a seven hour layover in the aeroport on my way back from Russia, so my only words of wisdom to offer are, “When you’re really tired, even ten espressos will not keep you awake.” I, too, will be interested to read impressions garnered outside the airport.

At any rate, congrats.

“There is nothing you ought to do, for the simple reason that you know nothing, nothing whatever- make a mental note of that, if you please.”
-V. Nabokov

::writing in notebook::
“No espressos. Small cars.”

Oh, and FYI, I’m probably gonna refer my french teacher to this thread, so try not to say anything you wouldn’t say to a teacher, OK? Just so you know for the future - no one’s said anything bad yet, but you never know who’ll show up…

<-- ::wondering why everyone stopped posting after he mentioned his french teacher::

“A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men.”
– Henry David Thoreau

Since I’m an adult, as well as a Jr. High School drop out, there’s not much I wouldn’t say to a teacher . But for your sake I will be nice. :wink:

I am so glad you have this chane to broaden your horizons , so to speak. Take lots of pictures, and why not take a small notebook and write a daily record of your experiences.

Congratulations, enjoy your trip ! Let us know how it goes.

Ayesha - Lioness

You sound reasonable. Must be time to up my medication.

You’ll have a great time, Sanibelman.
I was in Paris once, with my parents, when I was 14. Loved it.
You’ll be without your parents, which means you’ll have twice as much fun as I did.

This space for rent.

In Marseille, be careful at night, especially in the harbour area. Things can get rough.

And as for small cars, I dare you to try and park a Lincoln Town Car in downtown Paris :wink:


“You know how complex women are”

  • Neil Peart, Rush (1993)

SanibelMan…You’re in for a blast, even though you’re only limited to France.

As a young man, I lived in neighboring Germany for three years, and I made a few trips to France. Visited Paris for three days. Nowhere near enough time to even begin to see it. Stay with your group and away from the subways and taxis.

BTW, don’t tell your teacher I said so, but certain activities that are frowned upon in the US are legal there.

Have a great experience!


From your point of view, one of the best aspects of france might be the access to alcohol that is afforded to young’uns (sorry, teach). If you can shake off the hangovers, though, Paris is a great city.

My advice on how to see it: try to get off by yourself or with a smaller group of adventuresome folks and get lost. Here’s the way I do it in European cities. I look for a church steeple and walk until I am at the church. While walking, I soak in the culture and the sights. I always try to bring a guide book so that I can read about what I see. Once at my target, I look for another church steeple and repeat. I eat when hungry and drink when thirsty. I continue to acquire and achieve targets until dark. I know of no better way to see neighborhoods, explore famous places, and learn about not so famous places. I did this in Hamburg once and . . . oh right, there’s a teacher looking in.

Have fun.


I don’t think this is true, but certain activities are less aggressively policed for amounts below a few grams. For legal, you’d have to get on a train for Amsterdam.

Which segues nicely into my first piece of advice. Do not bring anything illegal across any national border. Not even within the EU. Not even a gram. Smoke it before you go to the airport. (I once smoked with one of my HS teachers, so I don’t really mind sharing this advice)

Second piece of advice: Those small cars? They’re quick little MFers, and they’re mean. I live in NYC and I’m telling you that the drivers in France are nuts by comparison. Wait for the light.

Third piece of advice: Don’t try to do too much. There is a tendency to try to see each thing on in the guidebook and “check it off” like a to-do list. You’re better off seeing fewer things and experiencing more of the culture. Eissclam’s approach is a good one. I’d just add that you should do it good and slow – think three or four “targets” per day. You’ll learn as much people-watching from an outdoor café as you will looking at the 43rd Cathedral apse of the morning.

Livin’ on Tums, Vitamin E and Rogaine

Congratulations, Sanibel!
Check out a neat little book, Postcards From France by Megan McNeil Libby. She was an American exchange student in France who wrote a regular column for her back-home newspaper about her experience.

It’s a charmer of a book; the chapters on the dogs of France and her attempt at a “real” Thanksgiving dinner are priceless. But she also has a lot to say about culture shock, homesickness, and learning the language. Since it’s from the perspective of an American exchange student, you may get some “been there, done that” advice. Her take on the differences between French and American schools could be valuable, too.

Hey, no matter what, it’s a good, unusual and fast read. I’d recommend it to anyone.

Have a blast!

In Paris, it’s true, the locals can be quite impolite.

Outside Paris you’ll be 3000 times more likely to meet friendly people.

I also lived in Germany for several years and used to visit France with my family at least once per year.

My two pieces of advice: Try the local flavors and do as the French do.

Men are from Mars, women are from Venus, dogs are from Pluto. - Anonymous

So, no one here has been an exchange student at all?

To my French teacher (yes, she’s reading this): If you want to reply to what anyone says, just click on “register” link, up at the top of the thread, right below “Reply”, and sign up - it’s free. Then come back to the thread, hit Reply and type in your username and password, then your reply in the fields listed.

Oh, and about the trip: I have a family ready to accept me already! This is gonna be great - a small group of kids going around France for 3 weeks. I just hope I get over the jet lag quickly.

I went to France when I was 13 and I loved it. I didn’t find the people to be rude at all. I went with a group from school also, but we stayed in hotels :slight_smile:

O p a l C a t

Yup, it’s all true. For real vice, come up north to Amsterdam to join all of us hellbound pot-smoking whore-banging Dutchies :wink:

And BE CAREFUL with drugs and the like in France. They’re quite anal about it. Uh, so I’ve heard, anyways. Remember that a foreigner is ten times as likely to get busted for anything than a local. If there’s one country that lives up to that statement, it’s definately France.


“You know how complex women are”

  • Neil Peart, Rush (1993)

Why does everyone keep thinking that I’m gonna smuggle drugs or something? I’m going to France with my classmates and my teacher. I’ll be under constant supervision - My chances of being alone on some Marseille streetcorner are next to nil.
Not that I’d do anything like that anyway…

Manhattan sez:

Jeez Manhattan, I wasn’t refering to THAT. He could do that here. I was talking about that other activity that young men might enjoy. It’s socially acceptable over there.

I dunno, though. I’m considering inviting SanibelMan up to Orlando for the weekend. My 15 year old daughter is an honor student at Dr Phillips HS, I think they’d hit it off great. He’d make a great son-in-law.

On second thought, stick to the museums and cathredrals, SanibalMan.