We laughed a lot together.
This week, we went to a high school in South Chicago where students were studying French. We met with them so we could talk about France and some of the cultural differences that exist.
We met four classes of different levels and ages. When we first arrived at the high school, I was a little worried because the surrounding neighborhood might be considered a bit “difficult,” but all my uncertainties disappeared after meeting the first class.
In fact, the students were very interested in hearing what we had to say. They asked a lot of questions, and had a good opinion of France. We laughed a lot together when we started discussing the stereotypes and prejudices about Americans and French people.
In the end, I had a very good day. I met a lot of friendly people who seemed to love what they were doing. The students seemed to love studying French, even though it is a difficult language to learn.
Valentine Van Der Slikke
Our professors are really great. I’m happy to meet them and learn from them.
On Monday, we attended an event for Art for the Hearts with Jane Canepa, our Public Relations teacher. Art for the Hearts is an organization that helps parents who have children with heart problems. The event was in the 900 North Michigan Shops mall where Jane works at Bloomingdales. I really liked the store and their Chinese New Year decorations.
We also went to a fast-food burger place called Shake Shack with one of Jane’s students. All my friends have recommended it and told me to go. I wasn’t disappointed with the food. I had a bacon burger and fries, which were delicious. I also tried some Mexican food this week. I loved the chips and guacamole.
It’s the end of our first session here at Seagull Institute, and our professors were really great and very helpful. I was happy to meet them and learn from them. I’m also very excited to start a new session with different professors. Time has gone by really fast. I can’t believe we are already halfway through the program!
It was the best experience I’ve had since we arrived in Chicago.
This week, we took a bus from Roosevelt University to a high school in Bronzeville with Thomas, one of our program coordinators. I think, for me, it was the best experience I’ve had since we arrived in Chicago.
We met a French teacher at the school who explained to us what her French courses were like. She introduced us to four of her classes. The students introduced themselves in French; they told us their names, how old they were, what they liked, etc. Then they asked us some questions in French; where we lived, what we liked, if we liked Chicago, and why.
Afterwards, we did the same thing in English. That was easier for them; the students were between 14 and 18 years old, and for most of them it was only their first or second year studying French.
The students in this school were very friendly and funny. Many of them liked dancing and singing, and they demonstrated it. It was very cool.
One student told me that he liked to draw. I asked him what he liked to draw and he replied, “Whatever pops in my mind.” At the end of our visit, we took a selfie with the group, and he gave me a sheet of paper. On it was a drawing of me. He also drew himself with a speech bubble coming out of his mouth, saying, “It popped in my mind, so I drew it.”
It was an amazing experience to be able to talk with the students. I loved it.
This week in Chicago was very busy. The sad part was that I was very sick, so I wasn’t really at my best. But it was nice in a lot of ways too.
I met up with some friends I’ve made here, and we went to a trivia event. People asked us random questions, and it was very fun to try to guess the answers. Being the only French person there, it was really interesting. Everything went well and I had a very good time.
After trivia, my friends and I went and played pool at the pool bar. There was a jukebox there that could play any genre of music you wanted. We played many games of pool with other people we met there. I also met some British people the same day, and it was nice chatting with them.
On Friday, we visited a high school in the South Side of Chicago with Seagull Institute. It was one of the best experiences we’ve had in Chicago so far. We took a bus over there, and we could see our surroundings changing as we drove farther south—the neighborhood where the high school was located was a lot different from Downtown Chicago.
I was very eager to see the class and the high school, and I was pleasantly surprised. The kids were nice, fun, full of life, and very interested in what we had to say. I almost feel sad because I didn’t take many pictures.
We talked about the similarities and differences between France and the USA. We also talked about what influences them most—most of the students said sports or whatever makes them want to excel. I think they are more mature than I was at their age.
The ones that surprised me the most were the younger ones. They were so funny, with unique and strong personalities. It was an amazing experience to be able to talk with them. I loved it a lot.
My first impression when we walked in was, “Wow, that’s definitely American high school!”
Yesterday, we had a really cool experience. I think it was the best one we’ve had since arriving here. Usually we have Fridays off, but yesterday we met Thomas at the university at 7:30 AM. Because we had to wake up so early, our night was really short, and the weather was ridiculously cold. It felt like -19 degrees.
Anyway, waking up in the morning wasn’t so easy, but we got on a bus, and after a 40-minute ride, we arrived at a high school in the southern suburbs of Chicago.
My first impression when we walked into the school was, “Wow, that’s American high school!” It was just like the big schools you see on TV with huge hallways and lockers everywhere. It was so cool to see that.
We went inside a classroom, but the students weren’t there yet. Their French teacher was an American woman who studied French and lived in Nantes, a city in West France, for a few months. She explained to us what the class was and about the students’ choice to take French as a second language.
A few minutes later, students started arriving. Some were smiling right away. They introduced themselves in French and talked a little bit about themselves, such as what their names were, their ages, and their hobbies. Their knowledge of French was elementary, because they had only been studying one or two years. We quickly introduced ourselves in French, and after that we all spoke in English, and they asked us a lot of questions.
The cool thing was that although the students were young, between 15 and 18 years old, they were really direct. We were able to see how they behaved at school, and they were all very fun. Some of them were really special and had unique personalities. I appreciated their attitudes.
They asked a lot of funny questions about things, such as our daily lives. We answered with honesty and clarified some stereotypes with a smile, like “French people don’t wear berets.” Other ones we confirmed, like, “French people think they’re perfect and are a bit self-important.” It was a really great teaching moment.
Some students showed off their talents, and that was the best part of the day. One of them danced, and two boys rapped. So cool! Another girl sang us a song. These moments were lovely, and they kept me smiling all day. I left their school with some amazing memories.
The students made me happy to be here and share those moments with them. It was an awesome experience, and I’m glad it happened here.