Exchange students return to France

Two students from France may have had to leave their friends at St. Francis School behind as they left town—one on Friday and another on Sunday—but they’ll be taking some good memories along with them.
Caroline Sautereau and Geraldine Gorsjean, both 14, came here as part of a student exchange program in mid-August, staying with the Brianne Hebert and Aubrie Byrne families respectively.
“It’s been fun staying with our hosts,” Gorsjean said last Thursday during an interview at the school.
Since they’ve been here, the pair has kept busy camping, going to the ballet in Winnipeg and shopping in Thunder Bay, attending tour de Fort concerts, and even taking lessons at Fort Dance Studio.
“We did Hallowe’en. We don’t do that normally—in France, it’s just for little kids,” said Gorsjean, who hails from Vichy. Sautereau is from Feucherolles.
The pair also said their English has improved, as well as their slang, and they’ve learned more about Canadian history, culture, and food than they ever would have back at home.
“It was fun. It was interesting, and it was good to meet all the people,” said Gorsjean.
And not surprising, the young teens noted Canada wasn’t much like France at all.
“The school is not the same. It’s bigger in France. We change classes for each subject,” said Sautereau, explaining a student’s level of education is based strictly on age, as opposed to grades.
For example, one can’t go to high school until they’re 15.
“The people are also really friendly. The houses and cars are different. And the environment—there’s lot of animals we don’t see in France,” she added.
“For me, I hope I will come back. I really enjoyed myself. It’s difficult to go back to France,” noted Gorsjean.
Gorsjean, accompanied by Byrne, headed back to Vichy on Sunday. Sautereau left here Friday although Hebert won’t be joining her in Feucherolles until February.
The two local hosts noted the experience of having someone from another country stay with them wasn’t a new one. “We’ve hosted four times. I’m kind of used to it,” said Hebert, whose sisters, Sarah and Megan, had done the exchange in previous years.
“But it’s been very interesting. It’s been a great experience to find out what they are like,” she added. “Each person is different. It’s fun when each person comes.”
Byrne’s brother, Zach, went two years ago and so a student stayed with her family then. “I’m excited to go to France. Geraldine has a younger brother and I only have an older one, so that should be a change,” she enthused.
“I’m really excited, too. It’s going to interesting to have three brothers and one sister, instead of one brother and two sisters,” echoed Hebert.
“We’re looking forward to introducing them to our homes, our lifestyles,” said Gorsjean.