I went on a foreign exchange to France for 3 weeks by myself and this is my experience:
At first, I wanted to go for 3 months but my parents didn’t want me away for so long, so I settled for 3 weeks instead. Although I speak a lot of French already due to my family, I was still a little nervous.
On the Wednesday of our May half-term, I joined my year group in France (Y10) which is the final year of High School there. The atmosphere was very different compared to year 9 and thankfully I got to sit out when they were doing exams! I had no idea how different it would be compared to an English school, but I felt that I adapted quickly, since everyone was so welcoming. It was a bit odd at first to have boys in my class, especially as some were clearly older due to having to repeat a year…or two!
There were many differences compared to PGHS such as no uniform, a different timetable, boys, the canteen food choices and many more. One of my favourite things about French schools was the timetable. It varied everyday so some days I would have less lessons than others. I started and ended at different times depending on the day (although some days I had lessons from 9 till 5pm with double lessons and only had 55 minutes for lunch). We also had free periods. On Fridays, we started at 11am, had one lesson and then went back home for lunch and back to school again for the afternoon.
I also loved wearing my own clothes to school; the dress code was so relaxed so I could feel confident in my own clothes. It was a life saver for when it was boiling hot as none of the classrooms had air conditioning.
There was one thing that I was glad to leave behind and that was having PE first thing for 2 hours on a Monday morning and occasionally on a Thursday morning! If that wasn’t bad enough, we had to play rugby with boys in that heat. It was not fun!
Living with a family who don’t speak English by myself at 14 is an experience in itself. It was odd at first and I felt very out of place but, after a couple days, Eva (the girl I was staying with) and I became super close friends and then it all felt normal living there!
This was such an amazing experience for me. I have no regrets and would 100% do it again!