Craig student learning ropes in Europe
Moffat County High School Principal Jane Krogman said she sent a child to Europe in August. In June, she expects an adult to return.
Krogman said her daughter, 17-year-old Emily, has come into her own in the six months since she left for Paris as part of the Craig Rotary Club student exchange program.
“Here, she was always the principal’s daughter,” Krogman said. “There she has to make it on her own. And she has. Beautifully.”
Emily had visions of visiting the Emerald Isle when she first heard she’d spend her junior year abroad. When she discovered that spending a year in Ireland wasn’t an option, she chose Europe.
“I had taken two years of French at the high school, and we’d learned about some of the cultural differences,” Emily said. “I thought this would be a great experience to learn how other people live, see their traditions, and experience daily life in another country.”
She agrees with her mother that the experience has been life-changing.
Most difficult, though, wasn’t adapting to another culture and language, she said. It was leaving her friends and family behind for an entire school year.
And she wasn’t the only one feeling the loss.
“Letting her go was so hard,” Krogman said. “For all her life, it’s just been her and I. She’s my best friend.”
Emily said knowing what to do and how to act in the beginning was difficult.
“When you are in the comfort of your own home, you know what is allowed and where the boundaries are,” she said.
Now, she feels like a member of her host family.
Two years of studying the French language laid the groundwork that immersion built on.
Emily speaks English so rarely that she said she misses the language. She communicates entirely in French and all of her schoolwork is done in the native language. Emily is so immersed, she said sometimes it’s difficult for her to think of words in English.
“I now have a group of friends and can joke around with them because I can understand what they are saying,” she said. “It is still a shock for me to see how far I have progressed. It is really cool to be able to say that you are bilingual.”
Emily said American schools are extremely laid back compared with French schools, where teachers are very much considered figures of authority, and talking back to a teacher can result in hours of detention to expulsion.
The principal rarely visits classrooms, but when he does, everyone stands until he says to be seated, Emily said.
At her school, students are split into different sections depending on their strong subjects. She is in the literature section. She takes mostly literature and history classes.
“When I have math and science, they tend to be very easy,” she said.
Students have two-hour lunch breaks, but the trade means they attend school Saturday mornings.
For lunch, students have a single choice served with a salad, yogurt or cheese and dessert.
“We never have a choice of nachos, pizza, or hamburgers unless that is the meal for the day,” she said.
The teaching style is very different, Emily said, and focuses more on lectures than on worksheets and bookwork.
Students get two weeks of vacation after every two months in school.
On her winter vacation, Emily went skiing in the Alps with her host family. She spent seven days skiing “above the clouds.”
Emily’s host family is learning a lot about Paris through her. Emily has been to the top of the Eiffel Tower three times, taking her host sister, who had only been once.
The two climbed the 700 steps to the second level and then down as they headed to the Arc de Triomphe for her host-sister’s first visit. They climbed 300 stairs for a view of the Champs-Elysee, Place de la Concorde, the Tuilerie gardens and the Louvre.
Emily said she misses driving her car through the country with the top down. And, she’s craving a juicy grilled cheeseburger dripping with mustard and catsup.
The fois gras patte and carats rÃ•pe she tried and hated didn’t even compare.
“However, I have tasted mussels and clams, and they aren’t that bad,” she said. “I think that this experience has opened my eyes to see that there is a huge world out there just waiting to be explored. This has taught me that even though different people live different ways, have different languages, customs, and beliefs, it doesn’t make them or their beliefs bad, it makes them unique.”
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