The French Exchange started at 11.30pm, Thursday 16th October with 50 excited kids and their anxious parents, waiting for the French children to arrive in the bus bay at Belper School.
With a ‘you do stuff for them and they do stuff for you’ basis, some of us (I know I did) tried to fit lots of things in. That first night we did hardly anything, zilch you might say. All of us sat in our lounge - my brother, Myles, laughing. I thought we should try talking again, so I started to explain about our hot tub. The evening ended and all off to bed. The two exchange students were probably thinking I was stupid. (What’s ‘bubbles’ in French?).
Myles’ ‘Frenchie’ was called Maximillion, an ex-Parisian. He was funny, interesting and displayed inquisitive looks whenever he didn’t understand. I got Cindy - tall, sporty and over-confident. But then it starts to get interesting! Anybody who’s had a foreign exchange will know what I mean! (Ha, ha!).
On that first night, our teacher Jan was reading down the list of names alphabetically. But there was a mistake with two boys, both called Jerome. One was 5th down the list and the other at the bottom. So by the time one of them was in their English host’s house having a cup of milk, Jan knocks on the door, telling them the two Jeromes have got mixed up. (Although one had ginger hair and braces, the other being small with blonde hair.) They were both nice and were both different in their own way.
On the second day our French Exchanges went to Sherwood Forest for tales of Robin Hood whilst we had the usual day at school. We picked them up later, thinking about what to do that night and hoping us and them would enjoy it. We saw my friend Naomi and her horse, so invited her to a church youth club on the A6.
The next day Megan, Alice, Jess, Laura the Frenchies and I walked into Belper and ate a burger from McDonalds. Then to Wacky Waters, funny because Frenchie Chloe couldn’t see without her glasses! Cindy was highly amusing when she ran along the 10 metre inflatable/obstacle falling off almost straight away. That night, we went to Matlock Illuminations and enjoyed eating chips outside.
On Monday we went to Chatsworth, walking in the gardens - talking, looking at all the scenery, statues and views. Later in the house we saw a painted violin, clips about the Duchess and were told secrets about a mirror. That Thursday, was Alton Towers! We enjoyed rides on Oblivion, Ripsaw, Air etc with Alice, Jess, Megan, Laura, Toni and Josh. On the way home we shared a seat on the back of the bus with a massive ‘I Love You’ teddy that someone had won.
We also went ice skating and bowling. We ate gorgeous fresh fish and a tasty steak pie at the Black Boy in Heage. We spent the last night in the hot tub and playing pool. Lots of laughs and probably too much fizzy pop and chocolate!
I learned that instead of Frogs Legs, they love Apple Juice and Spag Bol!
I enjoyed the week.
Friday morning at 9am it was time to wave them off. Frenchies and students from school were crying. Not me and Cindy though. We’d all formed strong bonds from sharing our lives together. If it hadn’t have been for Belper School we would never have met. I think Cindy’s loud, funny, a typical Frenchie and has a great way of saying NOoooh! I wouldn’t have missed this for the world and I’m going to be saying “YES!” in June next year. (Well worth it - no helping at home and no homework!). It really was a worthwhile experience and anybody who’s considering trying it, “DO IT!”.
Christina (Age 14) x