French Visitors Enjoy California Dreaming


Casey Miller, Editor-in-Chief

9 French students resided at Campolindo students’ homes, toured Northern California and visited campus as part of an exchange program. The French students departed from San Francisco International Airport, back to France, on Monday, March 2.  They had arrived on February 15.

Lisa Duriez, who stayed with senior Montana Dunn, compared everything she experienced in America as “bigger” than France. “All of this is bigger than France. The food is bigger, the school bigger, everything bigger,” Duriez said.

Like all of the exchange students in the Bay Area wide program, Duriez spent her days learning about American culture and taking fun field trips while her host student attended school. Marianne Boudot, who stayed with senior Jacque and junior Natalie Van Ardenne, said, “We visit San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, Muir Woods, many popular places. It was a trip with my school. Muir Woods, I think is very big and very beautiful. We don’t have Muir Woods in France.”

On the weekends, hosts were able to spend more time with their French guests. Natalie Van Ardenne said, “I think it’s fun. [She] has activities a lot of the time, so most of the time we see each other at dinner. Last weekend we went to the beach, and shopping.”

“The best part is being able to get out and go see things that you wouldn’t normally go see every day, just to show her what it’s like to live in California,” Dunn said. “We’re thinking about going laser tagging [this weekend]! She’s gone to basketball games, and we went to Tiburon last weekend, so that was fun. We spent 3 days in San Francisco, and I took her to Muir Woods.”

The students were able to spend one day at school with their hosts on Friday, February 27. The exchange students found classes difficult to understand, as they are not yet fluent in English. “I don’t understand all the class. The subject in general, I understand. English [was the hardest class today]. Shakespeare!” Boudot explained.

Many factors went into the exchange students’ decision to apply for two weeks at Campolindo, and hosts’ decision to entertain the students. For the French students, the program was expensive. “[It was] a lot of money. Two hundred thousand dollars. No, two thousand Euros,” Duriez said as an estimate of her total costs.

Duriez’s parents visited San Francisco last year, and enjoyed their experience, so they encouraged their daughter to apply. “My parents went here last year and they say it was pretty cool, the American are cool, the city is beautiful. They really like it. I’m here for two weeks, and I come back to France soon. Sad,” Duriez explained.

“California is big dream for France, is very different. I watch movies, and it’s a dream for me. It’s different, very different,” Boudot said, and added that American high school is just like the movies.

Dunn chose to host an exchange student because she had always wanted to visit France as an exchange student herself. “I always wanted to be [an exchange student], so I wanted to know what it would be like for her. I wanted to have one so that I could be able to expand my French and be able to communicate and see how well I speak French,” Dunn said.

“It’s cool to be able to talk to her and see what’s different about her home life and my home life, and understanding the culture shock,” Dunn added. “Also being able to say stuff without my parents understanding in French!”

Before finally meeting in person on February 15, the students communicated with their hosts up to six months in advance. “We talked about once a week. It got hard around Christmas time. After it was like, oh hey! Three weeks later,” Natalie Van Ardenne said.

Time zones affected levels of communications between pairs as well. “We started communicating about 3 months before we met. We started emailing once a day. But she would email back when I was asleep, and I would email back when she was asleep,” Dunn explained.

On March 1, there was a farewell party for all exchange students and hosts that participated in the Bay Area program before they flew out the next day.

“I think I will cry when I leave,” Boudot said.