My first day of school in Vannes started something like this:
My host sister: "Zaria let's check the board to see what class you're in!"
Me: "Okay, umm my name is on that list."
(my host sister checks the list)
My host sister: "Oh... you're not in my class, I don't see anyone I know on that list..." (fast french whispering to her friend that I couldn't understand)
The French school system is split up much differently than the American system. At the lycée (French high school) you must choose one of three tracks: science, economics/ social science, or humanities. I was put into the extremely difficult science track. Also different from the U.S., instead of having different people in each class, you have one group of people that you go to all of your classes with. So, as you can imagine, the fact that I was to be all alone was not at all good.
When the bell rang, I walked with the rest of my class to our classroom (we move for a couple classes, but mostly the teachers come to us) and I took a seat near the back. Within the first five minutes of class the girl next to me asked me something, I (of course) did not understand, and after I explained to her my situation, I had my first friend! So in the end, luckily, I was only alone for all of three or four minutes.
Our teacher started talking and asked everyone a question I didn't understand, (everyone said "oui," so I did too) and basically my 'sink or swim' test started then and there. I was either to be the stupid American, or the cute American girl that tries, and I was determined to be the latter!
My revealing (when everyone discovered I was an exchange student) happened the next day, when in french class, we were told to write an essay. I went up to the teacher and blatantly told him that I had no idea what he said and that even if I did, I probably couldn't do the assignment. He was very nice and, in the end, I wrote about where I lived in the United States and why I wanted to come to France.
Now, a month later, I am still lost in class a lot of the time, but my comprehension has gotten much better and I understand what's going on at least as much as the time that I don't.
Here are the classes I'm taking:
- PE (umm ew. I have to run, like track. It is honestly the most horrible thing ever)
- History and Geography (hard, but the teacher is very nice and I understand more that I thought I would- I even wrote an in-class essay!)
- French (I draw, mostly)
- Spanish 3 (which, having never taken Spanish in my entire life, I finally got out of today! So, no more spanish!)
- Earth Science/ Biology (nice teacher, horrible class)
- Physics/ Chemistry (horrible teacher, horrible class)
- English (my favorite class- as you could guess)
- Education Civic ( I have no idea what it is either)
Each day, I am at school for a different amount of time as well:
- Monday: 8am to 5:40pm (with a 3 hour lunch)
- Tuesday: 9am to 3:50pm (with a 3 hour lunch)
- Wednesday: 8am/9am (every other week) to 11am (Wednesdays are half days!)
- Thursday: 8am to 5:40pm (with a 2 hour lunch)
- Friday: 10am to 2:40pm (with a 2 hour lunch)
Lunch is also extremely different from what I'm used to! You have 2 hours, which is very different from the 50 minutes we get at my school in the United States. At lunch time, you go to the cafeteria and wait in line for about 30 minutes. Then you finally grab a tray and get your food. Picture Mean Girls but without the mean girls.
The food isn't that horrible- just sometimes- and you sit and eat with your friends. I love it, you can take your time, and still have time to relax before class!
So there, in short, is my experience at school! I now have many friends (good job me!) and I am gradually understanding more and more. You will of course hear more about school as time goes on! Stay tuned to hear about my first official weekend where I went to a beautiful beach!