French Connection

They’re Le Havre-ing a great time!


Bienvenue aux Etats-Unis! Seven French students from Le Havre, France arrived at SEM on January 8 and will be staying until March 5. Who are these girls? What do they think of the United States? What do they think of the SEM community?

SEM began hosting temporary French students from Le Havre seven years ago. Since then, many groups of French girls have passed through those tall wooden doors: this group is made up of sophomores Anna Vandermersch, Olympe Preval, Marie Didier, Lola Cottard, Enola Boutigny, Constance Gillot, and Camille Lanfranchi. This group stands out because of their intense untypical interest in integrating themselves into the SEM community. The girls have joined a variety of activities including ski club, fencing and even the Semachords, SEM’s a capella group. Lola is the first French immersion student to join the Semachords in the group’s history. Constance and Camille are heavily involved in fencing.”I’m very bad, but it’s fun,” said Camille.

Constance (left) and Camille (right) in their fencing gear!

Despite their enjoyment of the opportunities SEM has to offer, the girls explained that SEM is very different from their school in Le Havre, Institution St. Joseph. The first difference they brought up was the lack of boys. They also explained that Institution St. Joseph is much larger. “There are many more people… 2000 students. SEM is more like a family,” said Camille. Lola continued, “Since there’s not a lot of people at SEM, everybody knows each other.” Anna remarked on SEM’s nonjudgmental and friendly atmosphere. “I think here, nobody is judging you. In France if you wear something different then people will judge you,” she said. The girls also loved SEM’s laptops. “In Institution St. Joseph, we write everything,” said Lola.

The French and American students in the French elective Bon Appetit went on a field trip to Break ‘n Eggs creperie on February 1.

When asked if they had anything they wished they had known before coming, the girls had plenty of answers. Marie immediately answered by saying “We miss iced tea!” The girls explained that iced tea that they drink in France is very different from what they described as “Lipton iced tea.” The girls also regretted the clothes they had packed. “It’s very hot in school. I only brought very warm clothes. I regret that I didn’t bring a T-shirt!” said Enola. The girls were also surprised by the food. “The food is better than in France,” said Olympe. Camille said “In the beginning of the meal, you say “I’m only going to have two cookies today. Sometimes, I eat seven cookies in a day.” It seems that SEM’s cookies are tempting no matter what nationality you are!

Most of all, the girls were excited to spend time in the United States. “I wanted to live the American dream,” said Enola. The other girls agreed. “We really love this school. I don’t want to go back to France!” said Camille. They were proud to be joining the legacy of French immersion students here at SEM.  Marie explained that there’s a buzz about SEM at her school in France. “All the girls say that once you go to SEM, you are totally changed.”