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French Exchange


Sarah Burton, Piper Dixon and Phoebe Thompson —

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘Paris’? Angry Parisians, striped shirts and berets, people strolling down the streets with baguettes, and lots of cheese? Guess what! It’s not exactly what you might imagine.

Angry parisians: not true, most Parisians are very lovely as long as you’re a) polite, b) attempt to speak French and c) aren’t American.

Striped shirts and berets: nada, now it’s true berets were popular in France at some point in time, however that time was the 90’s, where berets were also popular in the US, Canada and just about everywhere else in the West. Striped shirts, however, are timeless.

And the food? Well yes... The French are passionate about their nourriture, and Sarah can confirm that the first thing she did in Paris was walk to the market with her host family, only to stroll back with a baguette in hand. Also, pretty sure she also consumed her own weight in cheese.

In December/January of 2017/2018, we, Piper Dixon, Phoebe Thompson, and Sarah Burton, had the amazing opportunity to travel to Paris as a part of the annual exchange between Burnside and La Source in Meudon, a suburb to the south of Paris, with our respective exchange partners Flore Salahun, Théa Fayolle and Clara Sinodinos.

The exchange was an incredible experience, what with being able to discover for ourselves whether or not the French stereotypes were true! And although none of us have eaten a snail, or sampled frogs legs, we can truly say that we have no regrets about taking part in the exchange and our time in Europe. It wasn’t like another holiday - no, it was so much more and we are eternally grateful to our host families who took us in and cared for us, even when our French was truly atrocious and we spoke more rubbish than anything else.

There is nothing quite like living in another culture, and we still marvel at how our days were so different to at home, yet also the same. Every morning went like this - wake-up, eat breakfast, go to school then come home. Except we woke up in Paris, ate a croissant for breakfast, saw the Eiffel tower on the train to school (no biggie!), took classes like Philosophy entirely in French and then went home - but sometimes going home resulted in a short detour through the centre of Paris for a walk through Centre Pompidou or a spot of shopping (especially if you were Sarah and Clara - you couldn’t drag those girls away from Rue de Rivoli).

We will never forget our time spent of the exchange, where we have made unbreakable friendships and unforgettable memories. If you ever have the opportunity to take part in an exchange, make sure you take it up - it was one of the best experiences of our lives.

2018, however, has also been a memorable year for the French department in other ways. At the beginning of the year we celebrated Mardi Gras and at the end of the year, Languages Week, both times selling treats and playing bops from Stromae in K Block. Merci to everyone who helped out and sold des viennoiseries and des crêpes!

2018 also saw a return to the Concours Cuisine des Ecoles (French Cooking Competition), where our Year 13 team comprised of Sarah Burton, Piper Dixon, Phoebe Thompson and Sam Stewart took out second place! The theme of the night was Nouvelle-Caledonie (New Caledonia), and our second place winning dishes included prawns in a spicy pineapple glaze with coconut rice and a mango, avocado and pineapple salsa as the main and a coconut blancmange with shortbread sand, mango puree, candied lime zest and sugar work as the dessert.

It was also fantastic to welcome Flore and Aristide into our class this year for four weeks - it was awesome to have native speakers around to correct our French and to teach New Zealand slang to. We’re sure they had fun in the holidays taking a tiki tour out in the wop wops! Bon voyage and bonne chance also goes to Sam Stewart, who will meet up with Aristide again in December when he goes to Paris as a part of this year’s French exchange.

The French department and Year 12 French welcomed 10 students from Paris in June to take part in the annual BHS -French exchange.

Sidonie, Emile ,Mila, Eloise, Leonie, Adelie Lucie, Soline, Emile, Basile, Elliott, and Guillame were hosted by Bronte Black, Adam Sharpe, Jared Sullivan, Elliot Danzer, Antonios Eskander, Meg Elliott, Caitlin Nesbit, Tegan Porteous, Georgia Keelty, Catherine Wang and Rachel Gillman who will fly of to Paris on December 3 to experience life in a French family for 6 weeks.

Our French students enjoyed their first experience at the year 12 Formal, went on a trip to Akaroa in search of penguins and dolphins, and took part in the French Immersion day at UC.

We really enjoyed their company, their energy, fun and dancing and look forward to meeting up with them again in December when our year 12 students leave to spend 6 weeks in France.

Bon voyage et bon retour 

The past five years in the French department have been incroyable, and we wouldn’t change a thing. Merci to all of our amazing professeurs over the years, we couldn’t have done it without you. And as the French proverb says, “Qui n’avance pas, recule” - “Who does not move forward, recedes.” Although we are moving on from Burnside, our French education will stay with us and help us to live our best French-inspired lives, no matter where we may be.