•                                                        FRENCH EXCHANGE
    School building
    Le Lycee Corneille
    French Exchange April 4th-15th, 2012

     Au pied de la Tour Eiffel

    16 New Providence High School students travelled to Rouen, France. They were hosted by 16 French students from our sister school, Lycee Corneille.  We thank all the students and families from Rouen who took part and accommodated all the students. As well as enjoying time with their French friends, the American group visited Versailles and its gardens, The D-Day beaches, Omaha and Arromanche, the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame, Le Sacre-Coeur and toured the neighbourhoods of Paris. The American students really lived the French life. They not only spent time with their host families, they also enjoyed shopping, eating French food, playing video games and had a friendly US/French laser tags rivalry which they won . New Providence students also attended lessons at school for two days where they appreciated the cafeteria food. We deeply thank our parents for this extremely rewarding experience.



    April 4th
    After our exhausting day in school, we said our last goodbyes to our friends and family as we were making our way to the airport. Everyone was sad to leave but also very excited to be on their way to France. Our flight was scheduled to depart at 6:10 pm. We all met at the airport at 4:00 pm. Once everyone was together, we proceeded to the check-in and customs. Both stops went by fairly quickly, and then came boarding time. Parents were waving and blowing kisses for as long as they could see us. Between customs and boarding we were given about 40 minutes. The time went by fast and we were soon on the plane ready for our seven hour flight. For some people this was the first time going out of the country, for others it was the first time going to France. There was a mix of emotions as we were all waiting and anxious to leave. However, as usual, something was wrong with the plane . So all the passengers were told to wait and the issue would take 15 minutes. After 15 minutes we were still there. Then after 15 minutes went by,then an hour, and we were finally ready for take-off. With the luck that I always have I was suck next to a very rude couple. I was counting the minutes to landing. BON VOYAGE!

    April 5th: On Saturday, we traveled with our correspondents to Paris. For many of us, this was our first trip to the French capital and we reacted with awe as we stepped outside of the Gare Saint-Lazare. Feeling more French than ever, we decided that it was not only appropriate, but also necessary to stop and buy baguettes and sandwiches from an outdoor café. While this delicious snack fulfilled our physical hunger, we were feeling anything but satiated with an entire day of one of the world’s greatest cities ahead of us.

                Our first destination was “Les Jardins du Luxembourg,” a vast green space filled with large sculptures and neatly trimmed trees and bushes. The beautiful aesthetics of this garden filled us with a pleasantness that no New York, Chicago, or L.A. could accomplish. After sitting and enjoying the scenery for some time, we took the Metro to Trocadero, the famous stop where sightseers view the Tour Eiffel from afar. A good half hour was spent here marveling at the impossibly tall tower and taking funny photos.

                After experiencing a culturally French day, we decided to eat American food. We walked to the Champs-Elysees to dine at McDonalds, or “MacDo,” as the French nicknamed it. Although the menu was the same as one at an American McDonalds, the portions at “MacDo” were much smaller. After eating, we finished the day by walking back to the Tour Eiffel to see it illuminated under the night sky. The twinkling lights that engulfed the tower and lit up the scene left us nothing less than enchanted as we headed back to Rouen.

    Etretat,  April 6th
    On the morning of our first Saturday in France, Aurelia, her parents, little brother and I all piled into their car for the hour long ride north to the beach at Etretat to see the famous cliffs. First, however, we idled at the end of her street fiddling with the GPS and a messy stack of very confusing maps.  Mrs. Metois could not seem to understand the fact that the word 'plage' is not a valid address.  Once we were underway, the car ride there was very fun.  We talked and joked around and made fun of Aurelia's frustration with driving a stick shift.  But to be honest, for the life of me I can not understand how people can use those things at all.  Once we got there, we met up with some of the other kids from the exchange and aurelia's family went off to grab lunch somewhere.  Then, despite the light rain and freezing cold weather, we all ran onto the beach and skipped rocks and threw seaweed at each other before trekking up the giant cliff side.  We were all struck by how beautiful it was, even in the wet weather.  Then, we were all desperate for some warmth, so we all ran back down to the town on a mad dash for coffee, crêpes, and heaters.  The rest of the afternoon was spent huddled together in a tiny cafe talking, playing cards, and consuming mass amounts of nutella.  By the time Aurelia and I met back up with her family, we were so exhausted we slept the entire way back.  Then, we spent the evening talking together, making card castles, and watching movies in our pajamas and slippers.  And that is how I spent my first Sunday in France.
    Easter Monday
    The evening before, I had slept over at chez Agathe (Alex's corespondent) because we went to a friend's house for a little party. It ran very late, and since Axelle lives out in the country, she decided it would be simpler for us to stay with Agathe. So on Monday, I awoke at Agathe's house and went downstairs for a wonderful breakfast with Agathe's mother- she's practically fluent in English! Anyways, by the time I woke up it was around 10 AM, so when all was said and done it was around noon. Axelle's grandmother came and picked Axelle and me up, and we traveled back to her house. This was where the fun began! here, I got to meet a lot of Axelle's mother's family. Her brother was there, with his family, and both sides of Axelle's grandparents were there as well. We engaged in a fun Easter egg hunt, and I got mounds of chocolates! Yum!! Afterwards, I played dominoes with both grandfathers, and it was so much fun! There was still some sense of jet lag afterwards, so I took a long nap. Before her grandparents left, I played on the keyboard for them, and they were very impressed! At the end of the day, I just lounged around with her family, eating leftovers and reminiscing on the great day. By far, it was the most rewarding day of the trip, and I will never forget it. 


    April 13th: We were sitting on the cozy, candy-colored train, gazing out the window at the French countryside, still only half believing we were in France, as the train carried us to Paris. Beyond the window lay the green velvet of grass flecked with golden flowers the color of which showed more like an enameled glaze than a stretch of plant life. It was not long at all until we were stepping down from the train and under the great glass ceiling of the train station. The humming surge of pushing people followed us down into the tiled French metro and after a handful of stops we hurriedly lightly up the steps and began to really see Paris.

                There was the Eiffel Tower before us and after a breath of a wait we were dragging ourselves up the steps to the top of this monumental piece of metallic filigree. After drinking in the beauty of the view from the tower we continued on to Le Petit Palais, after indulging in a peaceful lunch in a charming little park. We found the Petit Palais, a sumptuous little architectural morsel, gilded and marble paved, laden with gorgeous and deliciously obscure art works. I personally remember a poignant rendering of the tragic drowning of Shakespeare’s Ophelia painted by Steck. After this sojourn came a casual stroll down the Champs-Elysees to see the Arc de Triomphe and after that we were free to shop at our leisure. I visited the Opera with my friends and was entirely thrilled within its decadent walls. Despite its hurried nature and the fullness of our schedule he day was nevertheless immensely satisfying.

                I was not let down by Paris; its sights are certainly as breathtaking and spectacular as they are reputed. The rows and twisting avenues of beige, ornately carved buildings hugging the Seine, the old bridges, the museums, the opera all shone in their own resplendent right. However the endless haste at which the Parisians move, in addition to the great volume of tourists pushing in one huge, restless crowd leaves me to believe that the rich history and beauty of Paris have been somewhat polluted and corrupted by modern attitudes and society. Aside from this Paris is still, in my eyes city of dreams, lights, and love.
    April 14th: Today was our last full day in Rouen. Since it was a Saturday most of us slept in very late. Some of the French students had school but all of the Americans stayed home to catch up on sleep. The families provided us with delicious breakfasts, and in my case with fresh food from the local farmer’s market.  In the afternoon some students went to play soccer in an intense match with the French students, while others explored downtown Rouen and purchased clothes, macarons, and presents to bring back to the U.S.

                In the evening everyone returned to their host families for a final dinner together. After, we showered, changed, and left for a night in Rouen. Some students when to the Lycée Corneille rock concert and others went to a gathering at one of the student’s home. The rock concert was very funny. It felt like I was in “La Boum” watching the crazy French teenagers dancing and attempting to sing American classic rock songs with their thick accents! At the end of the concert, my host and I went to the other student’s gathering. There, we danced, sang, and enjoyed our final evening together.