The French have a history of being grandiose by nature which leads to a history as rich as their cheese. How to be French according to Alison Blair: “Basically be a really big snob and think that you’re better than everyone else, but you also have to look presentable.”
This past summer you could have had witnessed France first hand with Madame Z. and a handful of Kayhi students. For roughly $6,000, a group 15 Kayhi students and chaperones had a one of a kind experience. The group flew to London and from there went to Paris on June 15. Then the trip started to get exciting. Although the group arrived exuberant and ready to go, some of the luggage did not get the memo and missed the flight to Paris.
“Five people were without their suitcases because the connection at Heathrow [Airport] was too quick,” said Madame Z.
Several hours later luggage and owners were reunited and the trip continued on without further complications.
In order to get an authentic experience, the group sometimes spent up to ten hours on the tour bus daily. Because the group from Ketchikan was the only group on the bus, they were able to visit extra stops and had a more personal experience.
“It was a sweet trip because we were the only people on the bus. We had the bus driver and tour guide all to ourselves. We were able to load our stuff onto the bus quickly and because of that we got to visit additional stops,” said Madame Z.
The majority of French people don’t ride tour busses but instead choose to lead more active lifestyles.
“French people do a lot more walking, biking and ride on these cool scooters. The French are a lot more active than Americans,” said Blair.
Some of the sites visited were Normandie, Saumande, Loire Valley, Tours, Sarlat Village, Toulouse, Arles, Nîmes and Nice. Humorously enough, the people from Nice were reported to be the nicest. The highlights of the trip included visiting two chåteaus (castles), cooking an authentic French dinner and learning how to fence.
Throughout the journey, the Kayhi students met many local French citizens. Some were nice and some were, to say the least, not. When asked if the French were rude Blair replied, “Yes! Oh my God they were so offensive. I literally got shoved down at the Mona Lisa. In general people were pretentious, especially the Parisians.” However, outside of Paris the people were much nicer and more accepting towards Americans.
An additional benefit of traveling to another country is getting to eat exotic cuisine. Croissants were eaten everyday and students were given the opportunity to try new and different foods., “Madame Z tried to get me to eat snails and frogs but I was like ‘no thanks,’” said Blair.
The drinking age in Paris for wine is 16 and Parisians are able to order wine everywhere at anytime.
Spencer Landis was an advanced French student who participated on the tour. Her favorite parts included seeing historical sights and communicating with the native people.
“Seeing famous, historical sites, like the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Roman Arena, which are really old was definitely one of my highlights,” said Landis.
Sitting in French class learning French for one hour a day provides decent exposure, but immersing yourself in the birthplace of the native language provides a much more in depth experience with the language.
“Hearing French spoken at normal speed was really interesting and good for practical purposes,” said Landis. “Having to get medicine at a pharmacy gave a real world example for using the language.”
Blair added, “A lot of the French actually speak a lot of English. If a French person recognizes an American they will often reply in English, even if it’s a student attempting to learn French.” Blair also added, “Even though I tried speaking French they still thought I was speaking English.”
This was Madame Z’s seventh time taking students to France and she said just how important it is for her curriculum.
“[For] Students who can afford to go, it solidifies the things that they learn about France and about the French language [in class],” said Madame Z.
It also helps teach this year’s up and coming class because Madame Z brought back goodies for this year’s Advanced French students. Such items include apple cider and paté, a French delicacy made from goose liver. The two week trip provided a small glimpse of France and historical and cultural knowledge was gained first hand.
“[The trip was] overwhelming at times but really inspiring. It made me want to see more of the world,” Landis said.