The French exchange

So my son has gone away on his French exchange. He’s not overly keen on French, so I was surprised (but pleased) when he said he wanted to go. Over the last couple of weeks he’s got really excited about it. And no wonder! What an opportunity – to go away with your friends, to another country, to make new friends and stay with a French family.

My son goes to the same secondary school I went to. Remarkably, they are still doing exchanges with the same school I exchanged with nearly 30 years ago. For me, the French exchange was a real key part of being a teenager and growing up. Independence and freedom, yet in a safe environment. What more could a teenager want?

I’m very impressed with the matching process. My son’s exchange partner is a pescetarian (eats fish, but not meat). They must be VERY rare in France. My son is a vegetarian. The boy’s dad is an A&E doctor. I suspect they’ve done this because my son has a peanut allergy. We’ve been lucky that nothing bad has ever happened to him, but we don’t know if ‘next time’ might be bad. Being in a foreign country with a different language and different foods increases the likelihood.

My son has been in touch with the French boy through Facebook. How very modern. It was a letter in the post with a photo of yourself in the envelope in my day.

He surprised me by doing his own packing. Days in advance. I never thought that would happen, ever.

Even the journey was exciting. They set off late in the afternoon, with a scheduled stop at McDonalds for tea, then they were sailing overnight. The kids got to share a cabin with their friends. Can you imagine how exciting that would have been when you were 13?

He told me he wouldn’t ring or text while he was away. But he rang me at 8pm, less than four hours after he’d set off, to tell me he was at the ferry terminal!

I woke up the next morning, thinking of him. How weird to think he’d been sleeping on a ferry. Well, I hoped he’d been sleeping. His brother and sister kept giving me updates of when he would be getting off the boat and when he would be meeting the family – they even converted the French time to English.

The house is peaceful without him. I can really feel that he’s not here, even though he spends a lot of time in his room. His brother and sister seem happier without him, as he winds them up a lot, but no doubt they’ll be missing him later in the week. I’ll miss him too, but I know how much he enjoys new experiences and how resilient he is.

I know he’ll be having an amazing time, which is all I want for him.

Suitcase, Son, French exchange, 365


Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. It sounds like they’ve chosen a good family for him and he’ll be looked after. Hope he’s having a brilliant time and settling in well. I am guessing it can be daunting!!

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    • Thank you! I’m sure he is! I’d love to know for sure how he’s doing, but we’re trying to give him a bit of independence.

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  2. I am such a believer in exchanges like this, I think that schools do put a lot of time and thought into the whole process and it is such a great way to learn about the culture and language. Sadly these days a lot of schools opt for organised trips instead of exchanges with theme parks and visits to chocolate factories which is great but I think as you say, the exchange is like a rite of passage, a chance to spend some time on your own and stand on your own two feet. I’m sure he will have a brilliant time.

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    • Thank you! I’m sure he will! I did loads of exchanges as a kid, I loved them! They’re getting the trips in the daytime while the French kids are at school, so they’ve got the best of both worlds.

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  3. I’m sure he’ll have a fabulous time on the exchange trip… I can’t wait to hear how he gets on x

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    • Thanks very much! Nor can I! Although whether he’ll tell me is a different matter, you know what teenagers are like! x

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  4. My first thought was – wow, how brave! Then I thought back to myself at 13 and we went for TWO weeks on a french exchange! I never remember even considering the option for very long, it was a no-brainer! I’m sure he’ll have a fab time 🙂 x

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    • Thanks, I’m sure he will. I think everyone was braver in the 80s! I did 10 days when I was a bit younger than him – a week doesn’t really seem long enough! x

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  5. What an amazing opportunity and it does sound like he’s been very thoughtfully matched. I missed out on doing a similar exchange when I was younger and I really miss not having had that experience. Hope he has a great time!

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    • Thanks very much, I’m sure he will! I was really impressed with the matching process, so hope it works out as well in reality as it did on paper.

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  6. It sounds like he’s going to have a great time….They seem to have chosen the family well!

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    • Thanks very much, I think they did a really good job of matching them! Fingers crossed it works out well in reality!

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