Hello to all the parents, guardians, friends and families who are following the Saumur blog this summer! The last few days have been a whirlwind, between the long journey to Saumur and the busy first full day on site, but it was all positive attitudes and smiles with this group. I think the excitement of being in France triumphs over fatigue! Now the students have the entire weekend to get settled, get to know their host families, and rest before classes start next week. I have lots of pictures to share with you, so I’ll just jump right in!
Day 1 : The flight.
Jill and Renata accompanied the students on the flight while Michael and I waited patiently in France. The kids were all very excited and talking up a storm! The flight went smoothly. No bags were lost, and the flight actually got into Paris a little early.
Day 2 : Bus ride to Saumur, visit of Le Mans, meeting the families.
We had all of day 2 to make our way to Saumur, since we weren’t meeting the host families until 6pm. We made a mid-day stop in Le Mans for lunch, and then had a little tour around the city center with Bruno, our on-site coordinator’s brother who lives there. It’s a picturesque, medieval city, and the students were so excited to finally be in France, get to walk around, and take it all in.
Le Mans has a lovely cathedral with beautiful stained glass windows. The students seemed quite taken aback by the beauty and enormity of it. The choir was rehearsing for a concert while we were there, which made the whole experience that much more surreal and breathtaking.
There was a lot of picture taking!
Before heading back to the bus, we found a nice green space by the Sarthe river to sit for a bit. It was nice to rest after walking around and just enjoy the sunshine. We were lucky to have such wonderful weather!
We made it to Saumur right on schedule, and the families were already there waiting patiently. As we pulled up in the bus and pointed out the crowd gathered for them, you could see the excitement on their faces. It was the moment they had been waiting for!
Day 3 : Ice-breaker activities and orientation at L’Institution Saint-Louis, and photo-excursion of Saumur.
Friday was another big day for the students. We began at 9:10am, which is when classes will start during the week. They seemed to be doing very well with the jet-lag, and were already speaking more readily in French, both with us and among themselves.
We started the day off with a few ice-breaker activities to wake them up and help them get more acquainted with each other. They also voted on the class slogan for the trip. There were a lot of great suggestions, but they picked “intégrité, fraternité, français,” integrity, fraternity, French. It is a clever play on the French national motto “liberté, egalité, fraternité,” freedom, equality, fraternity. The slogan is entirely up to the students, but we were very happy with it as it reflects the core values of our program and is very positive (and very French!).
Before lunch, we took the students on a little tour of L’Institution Saint-Louis, where we have classes, and the city center of Saumur. L’Institution Saint-Louis has a beautiful campus with gardens and a chapel. It is quite different from what they are used to!
By then we were all getting hungry! You can all rest assured that Chef Fred at the L’Habitat Jeunes du Saumurois will feed them (very!) well. On Friday they had the choice of pork, chicken, or fish as a main course. They also choose three items from a variety of salads, patés, cheeses, fruit, and desserts, such as blackcurrant applesauce, yogurt, or chocolate mousse.
After lunch we walked up to the castle, and then back to school to finish orientation with some useful information, tips and tricks for communicating with the host family, etc. We showed them briefly how to get to the shopping center down the street, and then waited with them for the host families.
It was a busy couple of days, but this entire group has such a fantastic attitude that it just flew by. They were always ready to go and didn’t let jet-lag hold them back. I personally can’t wait to get them in the classroom on Monday, but I’m sure they’re just enjoying the weekend and are happy to be catching up on their sleep and spending time with their host families.