French classes travel abroad for spring break

Taylor Spencer, News Editor

After a long break in school-sponsored language trips due to COVID-19, French students traveled to France over spring break.

Although the trip was initially canceled in October, the group fought to get it re-approved, so they were able to go on the trip. French teacher Kacey Schlotz said the group started and ended in Paris, but traveled across the country.

“So we started in Paris. It was a 10 day trip, We stayed at five different hotels total. We started in Paris then went Southwest to Chartres and the Loire Valley. Along the river valley is famous for the castles, so we visited several castles along the way, then we went up north to St. Malo and to Normandy, and visited that area. Then we came back to Paris,” Schlotz said.

After arriving in Paris, senior Kavya Ramesh said the group spent the first two days going sightseeing. 

“In Paris, we did all the sights. We saw the Eiffel Tower, we went to all the parks, and we also got to see all of the Emily in Paris locations, which was fun. We [also] went to Notre Dame and the Luxembourg gardens,” Ramesh said.

After Paris, the group saw castles along the Loire Valley before making their way to St. Malo. Ramesh said her favorite part of the trip was getting to see the castles, although many were covered in scaffolding due to renovations.

“We went to the Loire Valley, and we saw a bunch of towns along the way and a bunch of castles. We had four hour drives but we would stop every two hours, stay there and look at castles, then keep going. I really liked the castles, they were really cool.The only thing is that a lot of the castles have scaffolding on them because they have to keep getting renovated every so often,” Ramesh said. “Then we went to St. Malo, which was a town on the ocean. That was a really cute town, and we stayed there for a night and went to the D-Day beaches.”

When back in Paris for the last couple of days, the students participated in more personal activities, such as taking a chocolate pastry class and eating a homemade meal with a local family. Schlotz said the students really got to develop their language skills during these experiences because they had to do them entirely in French.

“When you are actually in the language in a real world situation, those experiences are so much better because you remember and learn the language. It sticks in your long term memory. Several of the activities we did were completely in French, so like the homemade meal that we did. The lady said that we were learning French so she wasn’t going to speak any English at all,” Schlotz said. “Also, we did a chocolate pastry class where we had all of the materials but it was completely in French, and we had to come up with our own chocolate pastries. The French-speaking chef gave us help, but only in French, then we had a contest on which team made the better pastry.”

Senior Kenzie Hall said by the end of the trip, students really pushed themselves to practice the language without worrying about making mistakes.

“At the beginning of the trip everyone was nervous about speaking French but [because we were] in a country where that is their first language, we were pushed out of our comfort zones. By the end of the trip everyone was a lot more comfortable and we were more willing to try even if we weren’t sure if we were right,” Hall said.

Ramesh said she was surprised by the amount of people that spoke English there, but she still always attempted to speak in French so she could practice and improve her speaking skills.

“One thing that was kind of surprising is that a lot of people know English. I think we only met one person we met who didn’t know any English. At least for me, I always tried French because I wanted to improve, so I always ordered my food in French and when I was buying something I always tried to talk in French. Obviously if it didn’t work out they would switch to English. The one thing I struggled with was always talking, that’s always been my lowest scoring thing, but I was really proud of myself for forming full sentences,” Ramesh said.

Schlotz said in the future, they plan on taking more trips to other French-speaking countries in Europe and the Caribbean.

“We travel every two years and we vary the trips. The middle school goes to Quebec, and we will go to another French speaking country. This time we did France, but we are looking to go to Martinique, Belgium and Switzerland in the future. Any student that is enrolled in French will have the opportunity to travel with us,” Schlotz said.

Ramesh said any students who have the opportunity to go on a school trip should go because the personalized nature of the itinerary made the trip incredibly unique.

“It was probably my favorite I’ve ever taken, and if you ever have the opportunity to go with a language class, you should go because you will experience a country so much better. Whatever we did, I couldn’t have planned a trip on my own because it was so specialized for us and we really got to experience the culture,” Ramesh said.