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Students Reflect on French Exchange and Trip

After a three-year pause due to COVID-19, the DSHA French trip took place from Thursday, March 30 - Saturday, April 15. Thirty-one DSHA students immersed themselves in French culture, led by World Languages Faculty Eileen Gleeson

Throughout the two weeks, students stayed with host families while attending Lycée St. Jean, a Catholic school in Limoges. While there, Dashers also traveled to various historical sites including le Château de Chambord, le Château de Hautefort, le Château de Versaille, as well as several museums that featured French art and sculptures.

This trip is part of the 30+ year-old exchange program organized by Gleeson. In October, 30 students from Lycée St. Jean stayed with host families from DSHA and attended classes at DSHA and Marquette University High School. This trip for Dashers during speak break completes the second part of the exchange. 

While in France, students kept journals. Below are excerpts from their final journal entries. 
"At first, I knew about the cultural differences, but I didn’t know what living the cultural aspects would look like.  I greatly enjoyed spending time with my host student and I think I made a lifelong friend that I hope to visit every year or two. This relationship made me realize that even though we live on different sides of the world, we all share things in common and do similar things. The history aspect of this trip was amazing as I put myself in a state of realization where I was standing on the grounds of important people from centuries ago."
~ Christina Monty, DSHA '24 

"Overall this trip has been the most influential and impacting trip of my life. Being fully submerged in French culture, food and language all day, every day has taught me so much about the world and strengthened my French knowledge and confidence. I have learned to expand my horizons so much."
~ Lindsey Hladio, DSHA '24

"I loved seeing my French exchange student again. We had so much fun catching up, chatting, shopping, going to cafés, and just seeing each other. It was a blessing to meet her family and gain a second family. Living in another culture for a little bit taught me to appreciate my own culture. I also learned to open my eyes to other ways of life. Being out of my element has caused me to grow and become more independent."
~ Ella Connelly, DSHA '24

"From beginning to end, my trip to France was something I would consider life-changing. I was scared at first that I would feel very homesick, but this trip cemented my desire to travel as much as I can throughout my life. I am leaving France with every intention to visit again and I have been persuaded through this trip to continue my endeavors in language-learning."
~ Kimberly Andrade, DSHA '23

"I enjoyed spending time doing normal activities with my host student, her family, and friends. Simply walking to school or talking at a family dinner allowed me to enjoy the simple pleasures of life in another country. All of the art I saw touched me in a special way because I could see people from centuries ago portraying the same emotions as people today. Therefore, the trip to France truly broadened my awareness of the simple beauties of life all around me."
~ Elise Daczko, DSHA '23

"This trip was very memorable for me in many ways. Being able to stay with a French family and experience French culture was an experience I will probably never have again. It’s one thing to learn about cultural differences, but it’s another to be truly immersed in a new culture. I especially loved trying new foods and developing relationships with my host family. I also enjoyed attending school and experiencing the differences between French and American schools. I am so grateful to have had this experience and I am now so excited to travel and see new parts of the world."
~ Lauren Dudkiewicz, DSHA '23

"Being surrounded by a new culture really helps change your perspective on life. This trip taught me so much more about France than any culture lesson at school could have. It is so rich and inspiring to see how they have shaped their society today."
~ Celia Fossett, DSHA '24

"I was able to immerse myself in the language I had only ever studied in a textbook. I got to listen to slang, speak, and listen to native speakers. I fell in love with the language again and I was also inspired to learn more languages."
~ Ximena Franco, DSHA '23

"I enjoyed my experience in France. I thought it was so cool learning about the French culture by staying with a family. Limoges was fun for me because I enjoyed seeing the everyday life of people my age. I loved Paris because it was interesting to see the difference of French people and culture in contrast to that of Limoges. I liked the hustle and bustle of Paris and loved the metro. Seeing all of the famous monuments, museums, gardens, and chateaus was almost unreal to me. I loved everything we did even though my feet hurt at times."
~ Ava Harwood, DSHA '24

"Walking around Paris is kind of just like walking around a fully functional museum."
~ Lily Littrell, DSHA '24

"I feel better about my abilities after being able to hold conversations. This experience has encouraged me to learn more languages so I can speak to people and experience different cultures all around the world."
~ Maddie Lund, DSHA '24

"The experience I had living with a French family was a once in a lifetime experience and I learned a lot about a new culture/language. I also leanred a lot about myself and grew as a person while I was here. I learned how to be more independent and navigate a foreign culture/environment."
~ Mia McBurney, DSHA '23

"With my host family, I got to experience their daily life and activities, traditions, interactions with family and friends, meals, things that are important to them, their favorite things, and so much more. The family time allowed for authenticity and deep connections as I got to jump right into the family and get to know them well. I also enjoyed Paris and being a tourist for a little as it is such a contrast to typical, everyday life in France."
~ Emma Kate Porter, DSHA '24

"I absolutely loved this trip! I was so nervous that I would not be able to speak any French. However, I loved the exchange! I met so many incredibly nice people and my French got so much better. I learned so much about French culture too; even after all the amazing experiences in Limoges, I got to go to Paris. Thank you, Madame, for the best spring break."
~ Greta Rehmann, DSHA '24

"These past two weeks have been the most amazing of my life. France literally changed my life. My host family welcomed me with such open arms and experiencing everyday life with them was fascinating. I loved seeing the differences in customs and traditions between her French family and my American family, but I also loved seeing the similarities that showed the universality of family. The biggest take away I have from this trip, however, is how difficult a language barrier truly can be. There were so many instances where I struggled to find the words to express my feelings. It made me feel for all those people I know from school or church or people I just bump into on the street whose first language isn’t English. Even when people seem to know what they are saying, it doesn’t count for the exhausting constant translating and conjugating and simply searching for words they are likely doing internally. It also made me realize another obstacle of refugees leaving war torn countries only to find themselves incapable of asking for help."
~ Janie Retzer, DSHA '23

"I met the kindest, most loving people during my time in Limoges. I got to know a lot of the French culture but I also learned a lot about myself. I learned a lesson to be more grateful for the things I might take for granted like waking up later or spending time with my parents."
~ Yaleska Sosa, DSHA '23 

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