•                                                         FRENCH EXCHANGE
    November - 20, 2009-November 28, 2009
    School building
    Le Lycee Corneille
    Rouen Nov 09 movie
    New Providence April 09 Photo Gallery
    Rouen 08 photo gallery
    The trip of November 2009 to Rouen and Paris:

    Friday November 20

    Our departure


    November 20 was the longest day of school I can remember. You have no idea how many times I looked at the clock and was astonished at how it had only moved two minutes since the last time I checked. Slowly but surely, time passed. The pent-up excitement from the students and the, dare I say, “calmness” of the parents were palpable in the air. Soon enough it was 4:00 PM, and we were waving goodbye to our parents. I must say, it was very difficult trying to show sadness when leaving home for France, but I think we did a pretty good job. Despite our best efforts to sleep on the plane, the countless number of movies available on the individual touch-screen TVs proved to be too enticing.
    L'aeroport de Charles de Gaulle


    Saturday November 21 and Sunday November 22

    The week end


    After a six hour plane ride, we finally arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport bright and early at 8:30 am on Saturday morning. As soon as we stepped off the plane, the change in culture was extremely noticeable. Along with a change in language, there were also changes in fashion, food, and even architecture! Once we collected our luggage and cleared customs, all twenty two of us boarded a bus for the two hour ride to Rouen. After a silent bus ride that was used to make up for the sleepless night, we arrived in Rouen and met our host students at their beautiful school.

    Everyone then went to their new homes, showered, and attempted to get used to speaking and hearing fast-paced French. After relaxing for a few hours, the French students took us out to see their gorgeous city. The weather was rainy and cold, but that didn’t stop us from exploring! That night, we went out with the French and other American students.

    The next day, most of us Americans slept in extremely late, but got rid of our jet lag! Once we had an abundance of food shoved at us, most of the students involved in the exchange went to play laser tag. After two exciting games, each host took their American home for a nice, family dinner and a good night’s sleep to prepare for the next day.


    Monday November 23

    Tour of Lycee Pierre Corneille

    Classes with French students

    Visit of Rouen


    On our first day together as a group from New Providence High School, we gathered in front of our sister school, Lycee Pierre Corneille, at around eight o’clock.  When everyone arrived, the hosts student went to class, while we all were given an excellent breakfast, which was prepared by the school.  After enjoying our meal we met with the head master of the school, and he took us on a very insightful tour of the vast campus.  We learned that the actual building, although very different now, was built in 1593 on the orders of the Cardinal Archbishop of Rouen.  As the school began to grow and grow, it was outfitted with a well-known clock and a Latin motto engraved on the front of the school reading:  in this place, work or the repose of the Muses hang on the passing of hours. We were able to see these works of art first hand when touring the complex.  Finally in 1873, the school took on its current name, Lycee Pierre Corneille.  


    After attending various classes with our host students, which were similar to ours, just in French, the group of Americans met in front of the school for a Madame-Huynh-Guided tour of Rouen.  Here we saw many old historic sites of the city including the magnificent church of Rouen, a church with much age and historical value.  For the next hour or so, we split up into small groups and enjoyed the various cafés or department stores Rouen has to offer.  With fatigue setting in, we marched back to the school, met with our host students, and returned to their houses for a quiet evening.


     Le petit-dejeuner

    Tuesday November 24

    Normandy, France


    Tuesday, November 24, 2009, the fourth day of the trip to France, was a very fun and fascinating day for us Americans.  After the weekend and our day at school on Monday, this was the first day that we were reunited with just with other Americans.  Our agenda included viewing the D-Day museum, taking in the scenery at an artificial lookout, driving along the Normandy coastline, visiting some German trenches, going to the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, and relaxing at a small harbor village called Honfleur.   

    First of all, on many Tuesdays in France workers, including some teachers, go on strike.  So, when we met at the school, Lycee Pierre Corneille, at eight in the morning, the students had dragged garbage cans in front of the school entrances, their normal strike tradition.  But the students don’t get the whole day off from school, just their morning classes.  It was great to see a true and extremely different part of their culture from American culture. 

                Once we boarded the bus and started our two hour journey on the highway, truthfully, mostly everyone fell asleep from jet lag.  When we arrived at the D-Day and WWII museum we viewed an interesting film about WWII in France.  After, we toured the museum which was full of paraphernalia from that era.  We ate our bagged lunch from our host families in a cafeteria provided by the museum.  The lunches were quite different, for example butter on sandwiches, and it was amusing to watch each other trade and share the French food.    

                After that we drove through the French countryside to reach the artificial lookout, and this time we were all awake.  Cows, sheep, farms, houses, and churches were the most frequent things we saw.  The countryside was very beautiful and the gray sky seemed enormous from our view on the bus.  The lookout was a fun stop to enjoy the picturesque scenery of the coastline and take group pictures.

                The next stop was the site of the trenches.  The trenches, or dugouts, were open to the public so we took advantage and were in, on top, and basically climbed everywhere that one could reach.  There was even an ancient tanker cannon inside one of the trenches. 

                After that, we ventured on to the Normandy American Cemetery.  It was extremely moving to see the display of white crosses and stars that you see in textbooks in life.  Everyone was respectable and absorbed the aura of courage and pride that stood in the cemetery.  To be in a foreign country and see the American humility and bravery that remains there made me really proud of my country, and I am sure that the other kids felt the same way. 

                Then, we had some relaxing time to stroll through the harbor town of Honfleur which had many striking sailboats and cute boutiques.  We had crepes and a hot beverage in a small French café.  It was the perfect way to put us in a calm mood before the bus ride home. 

                After we met our French correspondents, everyone went out to dinner at a restaurant called Pizza Pai (the “pai” pronounced as “pie”).  It was a great relaxing way to end a very busy day with all of our American and French friends. 

       Memorial Normandie

    Wednesday Nov 25


    The day we arrived in Versailles was cold, windy, and rainy, however the gilded gates stood out in the distance.  The golden accents on the castle truly defined its remarkable beauty, even in the somber weather.  When we walked behind the palace, the construction of the garden and waters was breathtaking.  Unfortunately for us, we were unlucky with weather so we couldn’t admire the outdoor scenery as well as one could in the spring.

                The inside of the castle was much expected.  Each room was adorned with exquisite Victorian details and the flair of the 17th century.  Beautiful paintings covered the walls of most rooms. Perhaps one of the most memorable parts of the castle was the Hall of Mirrors that separated the war and peace rooms. The hall was very tall and wide, with glass chandeliers hanging from the ceilings and statues lining up against the mirrored walls.  It almost felt like a ballroom.

                The castle represented France’s overall elegance and true beauty and I strongly encourage all visitors to France to see this historical site.


    Thursday Nov 26:   THANKSGIVING           

    Students tour school and attend classes

    Thanksgiving in France


    Today, the American students went to school with the French students again.  The first class we went to was History.  I really liked this class because the teacher was awesome.  The teacher seemed very enthusiastic about what he was teaching, and he gave a very loud and entertaining lecture for 2 hours straight!! That’s something I have never seen a teacher do.

    I also enjoyed this class because all of my new friends like Alexandre,  Kevin, Ennissia and Solemne were there.  They all asked me to sing a Thanksgiving song, but since there are none, I could not.  They instead started singing ”We wish you a merry Thanksgiving…”  I thought this was cute because they could not pronounce the “TH” sound.  It sounded like they were saying “sanksgiving”.

    After History, we all went to the Thanksgiving lunch the school prepared for us.  The food was delicious because instead of having lunch ladies like our school, their food was prepared by actual chefs.  I sat with all my new French friends for the lunch.  I thought it was funny that I ended up being the only American to sit with the French kids.

    Then we went to English class.  The English class was great too, but I learned that we know much more French than they know English.

    Finally we returned home and we had a delightful evening with Swan’s family.


    Friday Nov 28


    Today only the American kids went to Paris, which was an extension of the bus tour through the city two days ago. Our first stop in Paris was the astounding, symbolic Eiffel Tower. With group passes we were able to bypass the long line for tickets to go up the tower. The view of the city from the second floor was spectacular. After we finished taking many photos we ate in the park underneath the structure’s shadow.

    By this time, we had to make haste to our next stop; the Musee d’Orsay. Here we took a guided tour to understand several of the most well-known art pieces to the fullest extent. We all had spirits lifted with anticipation for our next stop; the Notre Dame

    On the way to the Notre Dame, we walked through the Latin Quarter, where many prestigious colleges were located. At the Notre Dame we took several group photos, and we continue our excursion of Paris. We walked pass the pyramid, and the grand Opera House.

    Near the end of our journey in Paris we had half an hour to shop for gifts and such in a mall at the center of Paris. Then we had to end the stay at Paris to catch a 7’oclock train back to Rouen.

    Later that night there was a memorable farewell party to end our stay in France with happy times.


    Saturday Nov 28

    Our return

    Eight days later, we arrived back at Charles de Gaulle, lugging our tightly-packed suitcases filled with souvenirs and gifts for our families. And no matter what anybody tries to tell you, we were all happy to be back home.