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School in France: Bojana’s first steps

Bojana J. is 16, she lives in a small Hungarian town on the outskirts of Budapest and she arrived in August to spend a year in a school in France, in the Première level, in Literature stream.  She is staying with a host family in La Roche sur Yon in the Vendée region on the West coast of France.
Her host family has 3 older boys who are 23, 21 and 20 years old but only the youngest, Noah, still lives at home.  The family is also hosting two other young girls who have come to spend an academic year in France; a young Swiss girl and a young Swedish girl.  
When she was a child Bojana lived in France for 4 years with her family.  She has a good level in Bulgarian and in English but has practiced French less since returning to Hungary.  She wanted to regain her competence in French, hence her wish to spend a few months in France.

School in France testimony

Her wish n°1: to be able to pursue her passions

In her presentation folder, Bojana insisted that she wanted to continue practising her favourite activities outside of school in France: she likes to perform on stage, sing, play the piano and dance.  She has appeared in many dance videos, she did rhythmic gymnastics for 10 years, then modern dance, aerial circus acrobatics and also ballroom dancing which she loved (classical and Latin).  Today she does contemporary and classical ballet.

Therefore, SILC offered Bojana a host family who lives near a town centre which allows her to pursue her extra-curricular activities: she is only 10 minutes away by bus from her home so she can easily go to the 7 classes and workshops that enhance her weekly schedule! Bojana is going to perform with her troupe in a dance performance in March and she has joined a children’s choir who are aiming for the top; together they will perform in 5 shows in the major towns in their region.

Bojana’s dream? “To become a jazz singer, and also to continue to dance”.  If she cannot break into this field, she would like to gravitate towards Events Management, Communication and Languages.

Her progress in French

Young foreign girl coming to school in France

Bojana looks back on her first weeks at Lycée: “I joined a class of Première L, and I can say that after two months I am much more comfortable following the lessons.
Fortunately from the start I made a friend in my class, who took the time to explain the lessons in a different way so that I could understand them.  Particularly in literature, it was very difficult.  I struggled to write what I wanted to say.  But the teacher encouraged me and that gave me the motivation to try harder.

In my Lycée there are several foreign students so the teachers are more or less used to it, they are vigilant and offer us extra support to help us.

To share with my classmates, my form teacher has suggested that I do a presentation of my country and Hungarian culture, but we have not had the time yet to programme it in.

It’s also easier now to communicate with my host family but luckily from the beginning the Dad and Noah spoke good English so we always managed to understand each other.

Her advice before arriving in France

I would say that the most important thing is not to do as many French lessons as possible before coming, because it is in France that you will make the most progress.  
However, you will need to have a good level to be able to follow the lessons at the start, but if you work hard and if you are attentive, progress will be fast.”

You should also prepare yourself not to see friends and family for several months, so take advantage of the time before leaving to create some memories.”

Some cultural differences with Hungary?

There are many things that are different in France: for example, in Hungary lessons continue until 14:00 and we have only 20 minutes for lunch.  I prefer it here because we have a longer break to chat.  In Hungary during the break we can stay in the classroom, but in France we have to go out in the playground which is more fun and we can get to know each other.

I have also noticed that in France mealtimes are more strict and between meals you do not snack! In Hungary when you meet up with someone you often buy something to nibble while you talk or when you go for a coffee.  Small snacks are more common.  In France people were always telling me “but it’s not break time!!!”.

Finally, dinner in Hungary is not as important whereas in France the family gets together and everyone talks about their day.  Here, it is an important part of the day for the family, when they spend time together.

Thank you, Bojana, for your enthusiasm and your infectious ‘joie de vivre’. 
The SILC team wishes you a pleasant stay in France!

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