How High School in France is Different than Canada

How High School in France is Different than Canada

So far, I have spent 2 weeks at school and I feel that I have been here long enough to give an explanation of a day in the life in Carcassone for my high school exchange in France. School is a little bit different than my regular school in Canada. First things first, my school is divided into three different buildings; building A, building B, and also a cafeteria with building C attached to it. There is also one last building and it is an apartment block for anybody who lives too far away to make the commute everyday. There is the option to rent an apartment there and students can return to their families when the weekend comes. The school here is also not quite as technically advanced as at home. If I want to know what class I have in block 2, I have to ask my first block teacher (not the office) and all their documents are hand printed instead of on a computer. (Forgive me, my photos of school are off the internet so there are no people blocking the view)

The paper is also quite different here. North American kindergarten children use the paper with the dotted lines in the middle; the paper here has four lines so you can write different sizes and write proper handwriting. There is also a graph paper incorporated into it so it becomes confusing at times and is even difficult to look at because of all the lines. Writing here is also another story, most people hand write instead of print, because printing is very choppy. It is also quite normal to have a glue stick, small ruler and scissors so that you can make your work as neat as possible without using a binder (instead, students glue all teacher handouts into a scribbler). The teachers here will give us an hour to write one page because they believe that if we have neat work we will understand it better.

I find all my classes more difficult because they are in French and my teachers speak really fast. A technique I use for paying attention is copying all the words they say. If I do this I can hear the words again in my head long enough to translate them as well as learning pronunciation of the French language.

Today in English class we spoke about the United States, particularly New York City and the topic of colonization came up. It is surprising to me that French students do not know the meaning of the word “colonization” because the French point of view it is different learning history in Europe vs learning history in North America (where our only history is colonization). From my perspective, being First Nation, it is interesting to hear how the teachers speak about my history and how Europeans communicated with First Nations people at the time. It is also interesting to see from their perspective what they think of the United States. Here, New York is the best city in the United States because it is big and because there’s lots of people, diversity and everything is new with lots of attractions. My teacher is very proud that France gave the USA the Statue of Liberty and is now one of the main monuments of the United States.

Also regarding my classes, I get a new timetable every single week because my classes change. No two weeks will ever be the same, which makes it very confusing when trying to build a routine for which classes to follow next. There are also a lot more breaks at school here. I have my usual Saturday and Sunday weekend, but I also have Wednesdays off, as well every 6 weeks there is a 2 week vacation and a 2 month summer holiday.

Many of my classes are learning the exact same things that I learnt grade 10 high school in Canada but the teachers go into more detail and explain things clearly a devoted love for their job. This is the overall attitude in the south of France,  you don’t buy something unless you love it, you don’t eat something unless you love it, you don’t do something unless you love it. It ensures that everything is done well and everyone can stay remotely happy.

Friends are coming along for me too. I have made four really good friends so far, and we can communicate by a couple of English words, a couple of French words and a lot of sign language and facial expressions. I’ll try to take a couple pictures with them soon.




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