Paris Exchange 2016
This Easter Break, seven students and two faculty members travel to Paris, France to participate in an exchange with girls from our sister school, Sainte Ursule. The girls will stay with host families, attend school with their hostess, and spend Easter with their host families. The girls will also take some sightseeing excursions. Follow their experience here.
Throughout the duration of the week, most of the time was spent shopping, spending time with our host families, and touring Paris with our informative tour guide, Michelle. We both visited and admired many beautiful monuments in Paris such as the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Sainte-Chappelle and the Musée du Louvre. My absolute favorite place that we visited was the Eiffel Tower, as I absolutely adore the very intriguing and beautiful piece of architecture. The fact that I was bestowed with the opportunity to visit such honorable and ancient monuments was an amazing experience, and one that I will cherish forever.
I do not speak French at all, yet attempting to communicate with fluent French speakers was a very fun and unforgettable experience. I personally believe that French is a very beautiful and charming language and it was very pleasant to be around the conversations on a daily basis. As the days passed, I even managed to obtain a few French words, which was very exciting!
On Saturday, my host and I spent the day at the Palace of Versailles. I thought that Versailles was insanely large and absolutely beautiful. I enjoyed being able to visit such an important aspect of French history. On Easter Sunday, my host family and I spent the morning at Church and enjoyed much chocolate upon arriving back at the house. We also went on a night tour around Paris, giving me the chance to view Paris and all of its beauty at night.
Overall, I have greatly enjoyed my time in Paris, and I am sad to depart on Tuesday. I am thankful for all the hospitality shown from my host family and everyone else that I have encountered. Spending time in Paris has been an amazing experience, and I hope to come again soon!
It seems so far that everyone is doing well with their families, especially in the sense that we are all a bit more willing to speak French and say the words without worrying about our accents. Immersion is the way to go!
This weekend we all spending time with our separate families for Easter. My family has asked me repeatedly to let them know where I would like to visit so they can take me! They are so nice and understanding. My host mom is consistent with speaking to me in slow French and is patient with my responses, whether they are in broken French or English. My host father speaks to me only in French, and sometimes forgets to speak to me slowly. I still try to understand every couple of words. I learn immensely from just listening to the conversations that happen with my family at the dinner table. Today, which is Saturday, my only wish was fulfilled, which was going to a store called Bass Center. As a bass guitarist, I naturally scoped out this store several days prior to my arrival in Paris so that I could visit. After returning home from the music arrondissement, my host sister's older sister asked me if I would like to walk through Paris with her to a famous café, and I of course couldn't say no! As it was a popular spot the line was quite long, and we settled for a quieter area and enjoyed hot chocolate and desserts. It was lovely to enjoy the day and also to get to know the older sister.
This Easter weekend was spent with my host family and a few friends in Arcachon, a small city in the south of France. We arrived in Arcachon by train Saturday afternoon and the city was warm and inviting. We hiked up the biggest sand dune in the world, with an impressive view of a forest to one side and the ocean to the other. That evening, as it was a holiday for everyone, we were finally able to sit for a proper French dinner, which included nearly five courses from radishes to bread, cheese, and preserves! On Easter Sunday, we had a late brunch and walked the town, shopping, getting ice cream and enjoying one another's company. My fellow koala, Kristen (who also travelled to Arcachon with her host) and I decided to provide everyone with a taste of American life, and we made s'mores dip. It was quite a contradiction to the light mushroom salad prepared by our host.
After a little struggle with the packing, preparing for our flight home, I am dwelling in the fact that I will be home at this time tomorrow, and while I feel I've spent much time in France, I cannot believe how quickly it has gone by. I am so grateful to my host family and to my correspondent for making my stay so enjoyable, and I look forward to what tomorrow will bring!
Our morning began early at Sainte Ursule, and our first stop of touring was Musée du Louvre, which is the largest museum in all of Paris, and the second largest in the world. After posing for generic touristy pictures of each other outside Le Louvre pyramid, our tour guide, Michelle, took us in and began explaining the history behind the many paintings, sculptures, and architectural art within the vast museum. Michelle told us that it would take a person about three months to see the entire museum, so we of course only saw a small fraction of all the works; we explored the Roman and Greek arts, paintings form the French Revolution, and some more well known works such as the Mona Lisa.
After Musée du Louvre, Michelle brought us to a place called Sainte-Chappelle, which is a beautiful Church right near the Seine River. We toured the lower Church for just a few minutes, as it was a pretty small area, and then took the stairs to the upper Church with magnificent stained glass windows that filled the relatively small space. The stained glass windows each depicted the stories of the Bible from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Our guide also explained the significance of the patterns of lily flowers and little castles that appeared nearly everywhere; the lily fowers symbolized royalty and the Castilian castles symbolized Saint Louis and his mother, whose name was Blanche de Castille. After Sainte-Chappelle, we entered La Conciergerie, located next door. La Conciergerie was a former Medieval royal palace that later began a prison. One notable prisoner was Marie Antoinette, and we were able to see her cell and the original chair that she sat in as a prisoner awaiting her sentence and the guillotine.
Our day concluded with some shopping on the Champs-Élysées. This street branches from the Arc de Triomphe, and it is very popular place for shopping for clothing and jewelry, as well as eating and going to the cinema. Ashley N. '17
Pictured in front of the Winged Victory of Samothrace, also called the Nike of Samothrace(190BC) in Le Louvre.
Today is Friday, March 25. It has been a long, exciting and fun filled week. It is our last day attending Sainte Ursule College before the long weekend and our departure. Our day began with spending time with the middle school students with special needs. They know very little English and I know very little French. Using pictures and hand motions, we were able to communicate pretty well. They told us about their recent trip to Rome, Italy. They kept a notebook with pictures and notes of their experience and shared with each of us. It was very nice to talk with them and help them with their English, I even picked up a few new French words. The middle schoolers surprised us with a gift, a Sainte Ursule tote bag. We were very thankful and after many 'au-revoirs' it was time to go to the school's computer lab to work on our blogs. One surprising thing about the keyboard, the letters are in different locations than our American keyboard, presenting a challenge which we all eventually mastered!
The Eiffel Tower has been my favorite part of the trip so far; I have seen pictures of it many times but nothing beats seeing it in real life. When I thought it could not get any more beautiful, we went all the way up to the top and I was proven wrong. The view was absolutely breathtaking. I was able to see all of Paris and it was amazing. I would love to visit again.
At the conclusion of our day at Sainte Ursule, we will be participating in the Rice Bowl. It is an annual event where everyone donates six euros and eats rice for lunch. The money raised will go to support the Cambodia Ursuline Project. After school, my host sister, Emma and I are heading to the metro to go shopping at the mall. I am not sure what our weekend plans will be but I am very sad that in just a few days our trip will be coming to an end. I am very thankful to both Ursuline and Sainte Ursule College for giving me this amazing opportunity and for the experience I have had. I hope to return soon!
Danielle M. '19
On Wednesday the 23rd, I woke up early and made my way to Sainte Ursule College with my host sister, Lucie. I was still very jetlagged but was more excited to tour Paris. We started our day by going to the Cathedrale de Notre Dame (Cathedral of our Lady of Paris) which is located in the center of Paris. We met our tour guide named Michelle in front of the Church. She told us a lot of interesting information about the gorgeous Cathedral, particularly the history of the stained glass. When we finished the tour, our guide showed us the actual center of Paris and it is said if you step in the center you will visit again. The whole group stepped on the center medallion and wished the legend would come true.
We hopped on a bus and headed to the Musee d'Orsay. Michelle showed us some of the most famous paintings and artwork, including Vincent van Gogh's self portrait. The paintings were beautiful and the building as well, it was formally used as a train station and restored; the view through the famous clock provided an incredible view of Sacre Coeur. After spending over two hours in the museum, we were starving! The group headed to a local cafe and most of us ordered crepes, my country ham and cheese crepe was delicious! With full bellies, we walked across the lovers bridge to Musee de l'Orangerie. Musee de l'Orangerie is located at the end of the Jardin des Tuileries. This museum is most famous for Claude Monet's Water Lillies. As soon as I walked in to the first oval gallery, I was taken aback by the enourmous paintings. They were absolutely amazing and we all took photographs to capture the beauty. This museum was my favorite because it was not as large as the others, but the paintings were phenomenal. This was our last stop for the day before returning to school. We were all exhausted but fulfilled with all we had accomplished and seen. We are all anxious for the next day. Submitted by Alaina A.
On Tuesday morning we arrived at Sainte Ursule at 8:00am (3:00am NY time) after spending our first night with our host families. We set off for the Eiffel Tower, walking to the subway station where we purchased tickets and learned how to access the station. Once on board the double decker RER train, we were off to one of the most well known spots in all of Paris and the world! Arriving at the Eiffel Tower was like a scene from a movie, we rounded the corner to see the enormous tower, and were all taken aback. The tower which we had seen in so many pictures had come to life right before our eyes. We hurried on line, and were quickly on the elevator to the top. Once there, the views were incredible; it felt like we were on top of the world. All of Paris could be seen from the top, and we took advantage of the view by taking tons of pictures.
After descending the Eiffel Tower, we made our way across the lawn and promenade to the bank of the Seine River for a riverboat cruise. We found our boat and boarded quickly to avoid waiting for the next boat. Soon we were off on the river, surrounded on both sides by some of the most beautiful buildings in Paris such as the National Assembly, Notre Dame and the Louvre. Travelling down the river while looking at these amazing sites was both peaceful and interesting. We learned about all the bridges that we crossed under and about the Zouave statute which the residents use as a marker for how high the water rises during floods. We ate our homemade lunches as we experienced Paris from a different vantage. The cruise was a well-needed rest from the hustle and bustle of our first morning venturing through Paris and allowed us to see some of the sites that we would revisit later in the week.
Our next destination was The Opera House for a tour with our guide, who explained the significance of the elaborate decorations and importance of every room. The decorations on the walls and paintings on the ceiling were incredible. Ever detail was exact and perfect. We were surrounded by a centuries-old building with a wonderful story. We learned about how the Phantom of the Opera was based on a true story of the ghost in box number 5 and we saw the boxes of the rich men and women which surrounded the stage. Marble stairs were all over for visitors to climb or admire, and art students were seated everywhere, sketching the unique architecture. The theater itself was beautiful and huge, with velvet seats and a enormous ceiling mural. The boxes on either side of the stage (for the king and the queen) were palatial, golden compartments with heavy cloth curtains. There was even a reinforced emergency exit just for the king. Soon we left the Opera House and took the subway back to Ste. Ursule to meet our host sisters, and return home. We were all tired, but felt accomplished from our first day of touring the city, and ready to continue our journey tomorrow. Submitted by Kristin W.
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