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Monday, August 22, 2016

Guest Post: 2016 Lexington-Deauville Student Exchange

Enjoy our latest guest blog from Olivia Geveden, participant in the 2016 Lexington-Deauville Student Exchange!

As a student who has studied French for three years, when the opportunity arose to travel to Deauville, I knew I had to go. June 14th, the day we departed, crept up on all of us so fast. Before hand, Lexington Sister Cities held monthly meetings to inform us on their culture, review French, and match us with our counterparts. Here is a quick (or somewhat quick) overview of my favorite days in France.
Advice: Apply. You never know what it might lead to; for me... new friends and a new place to call home. 

Day One: I can only speak for myself (but I am sure I speak for everyone) when I say I was tired when I arrived. The excitement on a nine hour flight overpowered and kept us all up. The moment we arrived we had someone waiting for us to take us to our bus where would we experience the longest two hours of our lives as we anticipated our arrival. On our way to Deauville, we all soaked up what we saw; and most of all, slept. When we finally arrived we were greeted by our host families.
Meet Antoine:

A 16-year-old full of life, who can kick some butt playing foosball. I can say this honestly; I could not have gotten a better counterpart, and I thank Sister Cities for pairing us so well. I not only made a new friend but one that I know will last a lifetime.
As Day one kicked off, I met more French exchange students. Some of us hung out and went to the beach to play volleyball and soccer that day. Tip #1: If you ever think you are good at soccer, re-evaluate because most don't have to play competitively to be as amazing as they are... I guess it is a French thing.

(Left to Right): Antoine, Philéas, Grégor, Zach, Charlotte, Grace, Emily and Olivia (me!)

Day Two: I woke up early and went to school. Usually, I wouldn't be willing to go to school, but French school is amazing. They have a long day but they have two hours for lunch and twenty minutes in between classes. Everyone was so welcoming and understanding of everyone in the program.  Their lunch was incredible.

After school, some of us went to the beach and grabbed some ice-cream. It was great to spend quality time with a lot of the French students because you were able to see how they communicate differently than adults do.

Day Three: One of my favorite days, although it is hard to pick out of them all. That Friday, everyone in the exchange, and school students went to the beach. We all played soccer and volleyball. As Antoine and I left to get ready for a birthday party for one of the Americans that night, we were walking on the boardwalk. I thought it began to rain but I was (sadly) mistaking. A seagull pooped on me... and that began my fear of seagulls and a huge joke throughout the exchange!
That night we all attended a birthday party. We were able to show the French students American music and vice-versa.

Days Four-Six: My host family and I went to the north of Normandy to visit with his family. This was the most challenging time for me because I was overwhelmed. However, Antoine never failed to remind me if I needed help he was there. The north of Normandy was absolutely breathtaking. We went to church on Sunday, went to a castle, aquarium, and ate amazing food.

Day Eight: We traveled to Mont St-Michel this day and this was by far the most amazing day. As we all hiked to the entrance of Mont St-Michel, we were all covered in mud... and when I say covered I mean head to toe. This was a great day to bond with the other exchange students and see a place we always see in pictures. But let me tell you, it is more beautiful in person.

That weekend we traveled to Paris. At the time the Euro Cup was happening and it was awesome to experience that and see so many people. All of the amazing places we visit still hold a special place in my heart. It is one of those things you have to experience in order to truly understand.

During the second week, one of our group activities was going to Omaha beach and American Cemetery. It was absolutely breathtaking and one of those things you can't appreciate until you see it. It was a great way to bond with the fellow Americans and French. We were able to place flowers on each stone that we were assigned to.

Other fun activities in France included; an amusement park, camping with the group, zip-lining, and a Fourth of July cookout

The last day was so hard for everyone in France. Saying goodbye to those who helped you improve in many aspects (language, culture, and in general). Not only was it hard to say goodbye to our new families but to France. It is such a beautiful place.

When the French exchange students left America it was a very challenging day for everyone. As you formed a relationship with your correspondent, you did as well with others in the program.

I am counting down the days until next summer as I will be going back.  Can't wait for 2017 summer… and neither should you! Apply now for an experience of a lifetime. 

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